I approach plant photography both as a botanist and from an interest in the pictorial qualities of photographic images as such. As a botanist, my interest is in recording the features of the plants - flowers, vegetative parts, overall structure and immediate habitat - and especially those features that are critical to identification. But close-up photographs of plants or plant communities in their immediate space - with their often strong local colour and contrasts, the geometrical forms for their flowers and foliage, and with the "shallow space" of their immediate surroundings - also lend themselves to compositions with pleasing abstract qualities. This aspect of plant photography is of as much interest to me as the botanical, and so I go to lengths to crop and to manage aspects of the photographs to maximise these qualities - whilst avoiding unnatural effects. It is also the reason why I rarely take photos of plants with distant backgrounds. So I hope these photographs will be of use and interest to botanists and those with a general interest in Alpine flora, and attractive to those with an eye for the aesthetic qualities of the images themselves.
Most of the photographs in this collection were taken using either a Canon EOS 70D (2015-2016) or EOS 80D (2017 onwards). There are a few photographs taken using either a Canon Powershot SX50HS or SX60HS dating from 2013-2015. In 2016 I also carried the very good Canon Powershot G9X compact camera, and so there are several photographs using this camera as well.
With the Canon EOS I always use my Vanguard Alta Pro 254CT Carbon Fibre Tripod. This is quite light and compact to carry and can hold the camera firmly even on steep ground and at any angle, including upside-down at ground level hanging below the tripod.
The Canon EOS 70D and 80D are not top of the range among the Canon DSLRs, but they do have advantageous features when photographing plants. It is the only one in the range with a rotatable screen, which is useful when it comes to composing shots, especially when the camera is on the tripod and often at awkward angles. It is also the only one in the range with the rotatable screen and WiFi, enabling the camera to be controlled remotely using an iPad - focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure bias can all be adjusted. Being able to make fine adjustments of focus remotely on a large screen is especially useful. It is also helpful to be able to operate the camera out of the sunlight, and to choose the moment to take the photograph when the wind has dropped!
The lenses used with the EOS 70D & 80D are: Canon EF-S60 f/2.8 Macro USM; Canon EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ISTM; EF-S24mm f/2.8 STM.
The photos are captured as RAW files and processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional Software. They are then viewed, organised and occasionally "tweaked" in Corel Paintshop Pro X9.
Photographing flowering plants can present particular technical difficulties. White or very pale flowers against dark foliage or shadows are easy to over-expose, resulting in unrecoverable loss of detail in the highlights. For this reason I generally adjust the exposure bias down where appropriate. As long as the information is still in the digital record, the software can be used to bring out and to modify the detail and tonal gradations in these areas. It can be used similarly to bring up the illumination and contrast in dark areas without changing lightness in other parts. But as with all modifications using such software, this has to be done tastefully to avoid artificiality. Because I begin with what is often a rather dark image, I would be grateful for any feedback on whether images still seem too dark - though I have to say that I quite like looking into darker images.
In some instances there may be two images where I appear simply to have cropped the same photograph differently. In fact I have done this only in a very few cases. For the most part, apparently similar photographs are of the same plant but using a different aperture or focus setting, resulting in a changed depth of field or plane of focus. Since I regard this collection as a resource for others to use rather than as just a gallery, it makes sense to include alternative takes even of the same view.