Taking close up flower pictures has trained me to really enjoy the beauty of nature. I now see all the marvelous ways that Mother Nature has of attracting pollinators to flowers. Certainly, “She” has captured me too.
While I do try to make large prints from some of my photographs, today the main way of saving and sharing photography is electronically. So my comments will look towards the goal of showing them on a monitor, not on your wall.
The first thing to realize is that high definition screens (TV or computer) only have 2 megabytes (pixels) of information. And to keep the internet times acceptable at today's speeds (2009) most of my pictures are presented with only 100 thousand pixels. Any digital camera today has much more capacity than can be used for electronic display so the megapixel race is not important to you. The really important equipment to have is:
With these two requirements only, you can get a good to great flower shots.
The art of taking a wildflower picture comes mainly from practice and having an "good eye". The following are important for taking a wildflower picture:
Finally there is processing in Photoshop or a similar program. I use Photoshop Elements which is much more than I need. And I typically do only a few adjustments. Taking a good picture is a much preferred approach to making a good picture.
The few steps I use in Photoshop are:
That is pretty much all I "focus on":). To be specific about equipment, I use a Cannon SLR camera (originally the first Digital Rebel, then the 40D and now the 5D body). My macro lens is a 50mm made by Cannon. It is small and light which I appreciate on the trail. However, you must be able to get very close to the flower subject, which is typically not a problem around Lake Tahoe. If you need to shoot from a distance you need a longer lens (100mm which I have recently purchased) and, probably, a tripod L.
Finally I must say that I do not let photography totally consume my time and attention on the trail. I usually hike with others who do not want to tarry in one place too long. So I shoot fairly quickly and frequently. And I experiment often. It is so nice to see your mistakes disappear with the push of a button and at no cost. So enjoy.