On the QT | The Official Newsletter of GWA August-September 2016 | Page 5

P H OTO G R A P H Y CO LU M N BILL JOHNSON HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EARLY MORNING PHOTO EXCURSIONS OPEN EARLY Generally, the location— this year it’s the Atlanta Botanical Garden—has a scheduled time where everyone will have the opportunity to go there as part of the regular tour schedule. But by signing up for the crack-of-dawn photo trip, you will have complete access to the garden as part of a small group for up to two hours before the thundering herds of GWA members and the public arrive. Most of the time you’ll arrive just as the sun is coming up, resulting in experiencing the garden in soft early-morning colors. If you are using a tripod, this is one of the few times you can actually safely shoot from one without having people accidentally bump into you or trip over your equipment. A tripod also gives you the rare opportunity to possibly do long exposures without getting physically interrupted. LOW-LIGHT TIPS Upon arrival, it can actually still be dark out and using a flash might be helpful. As the sun comes up and it becomes brighter, a few lowlight shooting suggestions can come in handy. Above: The early morning photo shoot at Tucson Botanical Garden allowed photographers to capture the beauty without fighting the crowds. Below right: There are no people or unwanted objects cluttering the scene during the early morning photo shoot at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. For folks who don’t use or have a tripod, handheld photography is so much easier to do these days with the advent of newer versions of phone cameras that have very good low-light shooting capabilities. For users of traditional cameras, a lot of the newer SLR systems are coming out with much higher ranges of ASA settings than ever before. That can allow you to use higher ASA (ISO) settings without seeing the traditional ‘noise’ (the digital equivalent of ‘grain’ from the days of film photography). Using a high ASA on early digital cameras was always a dicey affair, which created a very degraded image. Using a higher ASA~1000 in today’s cameras allows the photographer to use higher shutter speeds. These can help to reduce any personal movement, resulting in steadier and sharper images. The advent of image stabilization with which most new lenses are equipped adds to the quality of your shots. EXPERTS ON HAND In all of the early morning photo shoots that I’ve been involved with, another nice bonus is access to various staff members at the venue. The gardens usually bring in almost all of their staff to be there to answer questions or point out interesting things to see. When everyone else arrives, those connections become more difficult, and from that point on, taking a picture without anyone in it becomes nearly impossible. So, if you can, sign up for the early photo excursion. By the end of the day, you’ll probably be dragging your tail around, looking for a coffee IV, but, believe me, it will have been well worth the bleary eyes and all the yawning. Bill is an award-winning photographer specializing in plant and insect photography. He writes the monthly “Insect ID” column for Horticulture and has written articles for Birds & Blooms and Minnesota Gardener magazines. Bill is the co-creator and photographer of the children’s book Minnesota Bug Hunt, written by Bruce Giebink and published by Minnesota Historical Society Press. 5 PHOTOS COURTESY BILL JOHNSON You’re in the middle of a great dream. The alarm goes off or the phone rings. You begin to open your bleary eyes. It’s still dark out. It’s the crack of dawn. Why am I getting up? Wait. I remember. I signed up for the annual GWA Early Morning Photo Shoot. For those who are regulars to our annual gatherings and have gone on one of these before, you know what I’m talking about. To those who are new to our conference, it’s something that, whether you’re a photographer or not, it can be a great way to experience the location without hundreds of people wandering around. Most of the time, it’s almost impossible to get a shot without someone being in it during the many tours we go on during the run of the conference. So, unless you want people in your pictures, I highly recommend signing up for the early morning photo session.