Morning Garden Photography

This article features some early morning garden photography captured handheld during a light, misty rain. Early morning is one of the best times of the day to create images of flowers as we have soft light with which to work.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-2000, subject distance 325 mm

It had been some time since I spent any time with my M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens so I decided to begin my early morning garden photography with it.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 270 mm

Since there was a light, misty rain falling, I initially looked for some blossoms with water droplets on them as they add interesting details.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 275 mm

It didn’t take long to identify some interesting subjects.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 315 mm

One of the challenges of doing early morning garden photography with a small sensor camera is that we sometimes need to use higher ISO values.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-3200, subject distance 260 mm

Shooting in RAW and using a software program with a good noise reduction function can help deal with noise issues.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-2500, subject distance 255 mm

I concentrated on finding subject blossoms and shooting angles that allowed me to achieve good subject separation in my compositions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-2500, subject distance 285 mm

It had been a while since I used the Handheld Hi Res Mode with my E-M1X, so I tried a few macro compositions using that feature.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-1000, subject distance 295 mm, Handheld Hi Res Mode

Although I wasn’t specifically looking for any insects to photograph, I did come across a couple.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5, 1/500, ISO-6400, subject distance 245 mm, Handheld Hi Res mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 235 mm

Deciding to switch things up a bit, I changed lenses and began to use the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 700 mm

When I initially considered purchasing Olympus camera gear, the first lens that I knew would be included in my kit was the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8. It’s unique focal length and fast aperture makes it an incredibly flexible lens. Adding a teleconverter like the MC-20 and a set of extension tubes, expands its functionality further.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-2500, subject distance 885 mm

I enjoy both insect and flower photography. Having this lens and the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro in my bag is a great combination. As I continued to explore my backyard I found a number of interesting subject flowers as you can see with the following images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-800, subject distance 1.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 815 mm
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO-2500, subject distance 740 mm
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, -0,.3 step, 1/250, ISO-320, subject distance 855 mm
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 142 mm, efov 284 mm, f/5, -0,.3 step, 1/250, ISO-800, subject distance 720 mm

I also took the opportunity to create a few Handheld Hi Res mode flower images with the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO-2000, subject distance 705 mm, Handheld Hi Res mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO-3200, subject distance 715 mm, Handheld Hi Res mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, -0.3 step, 1/250, ISO-640, subject distance 730 mm, Handheld Hi Res mode

I had a very enjoyable time with my early morning garden photography, starting at about 5:45 AM and wrapping up just after 7 AM. After that… it was time for a coffee!

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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6 thoughts on “Morning Garden Photography”

  1. This micro photography is awesome. I have also took some micro photography using my canon 5d mark 3, but it’s does not look like your photos. I will try to improve my photography skill so I follow your blog regularly.

  2. Mr. Stirr,

    Thank you for these wonderful close up images.

    I too do a lot of close up flowers as well as other close up images with my 60mm Oly lens and my EM-1 Mark III. I guess most of my work falls into this category although I like to do landscape and architecture but getting out in public is now very difficult here in Arizona. Most of my flowers come from morning walks at about 5:30 AM but with the current restrictions and the summer heat this is not possible at the present time.

    I have tried HHHR and it seems to work just fine but I find the depth of field sometimes to be restrictive. I have found that our cameras do a great job of focus bracketing which I can use on my small subjects to control depth of field while still shooting at f2.8. I can now start and stop my depth of field by selecting the images in the stack that achieve my desire. I don’t know if you have ever tried this method. Granted this is not a hand held procedure but very effective for me.

    Enough hot air. I do have a question.
    You were very specific about your post processing with the Nikon1. Do you use the same type of procedures for M4/3, or has the procedure changed very much? I find that any one software solution for post is not usually adequate to achieve my desired result. This type of workflow appears to be similar to yours.

    Regards,
    Bob West

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing some of your experiences! I haven’t done very much work with focus bracketing. It’s a great technique that works very well as your comment points out. A number of other readers of our website also do a lot of work with focus bracketing.

      I’ve never enjoyed using a tripod, and I tend to spend as little time as I can working in post. Those two things have likely been the biggest impediments to me doing more work with focus bracketing. 🙂 That’s not to say that it won’t enter into my experimentations some time in the future.

      In terms of working in post with my Nikon 1 images, I’ve had the luxury of many years of experimentation so its now become second nature. My basic approach is to set up custom presets in DxO PhotoLab and do my basic RAW processing in that program. I export a DNG file into CS6 for some additional adjustments, then usually finish my files with the Nik Collection.

      I follow the same basic process with my M4/3 Olympus files (DxO PhotoLab, CS6, Nik). Since the sensor in my E-M1X is quite a bit better than those in Nikon 1 cameras my Olympus files take much less work, and I don’t need to be nearly as aggressive with them. Rather than have a couple of dozen custom presets like I do for my Nikon 1 files, I think I have only have about 4-5 for Olympus.

      The image quality produced by M.Zuiko PRO lenses is simply superb which reduces work in post. If I’ve done a good job with my original image captures with my E-M1X sometimes all I need to do with my Olympus files is apply standard lens corrections and PRIME in DxO, and finish them with some minor tweaks in CS6.

      Tom

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