Each month, we sit down with one of our favorite photographers for a snapshot interview of the person behind the lens. Professional photographer Faith Bemiss shared excellent advice and tips, and told us about an exciting new direction that’s she’s taking her photography: skyward!
What inspired you to become a garden photographer?
I’ve always loved the outdoors, even as a child. When I began my career, I still had children at home, so I found gardens easily accessible–more so than far away landscapes where one has to spend time traveling. Another important reason I chose this type of photography is because of the beautiful colors and textures one can find in a garden. It’s also a very peaceful place to be. Besides all the flora one can find, there are so many photo possibilities with butterflies and insects too. I especially love getting up close to a flower or insect using macro photography.
What does photography give back to you?
It defines me as an artist/photographer and person. When I used film I loved the thrill of getting my images back from processing. It was like opening a present, capturing a moment in time. Now with digital the “present” is delivered much quicker, but there is still that thrill of capture and creativity that I miss if I’m unable pursue my craft.
What inspires you, or what is your favorite thing to photograph?
My outdoor photography interests are very eclectic! But, I love color, pattern and texture. If I see those qualities in an image whether it be gardens, landscapes or vintage buildings, that inspires me. It’s one of the fundamentals I teach photography students to look for.
I see you’ve written a book of poetry– tell us about it.
Yes I have written a original poetry book called “Toward the Sun, a Marriage of Photography and Poetry,” illustrated with my color nature photos. The photos range from landscape, and seascape, to wildlife, and to garden and macro images of flowers. I find macro compelling because it makes you look at a subject more deeply. It’s like putting the flower or leaf under a microscope and discovering a whole new world of veins, pollen, textures and subtle color variations.
If a person wanted to dabble in macro photography just to see what it was about, how would you advise them to proceed?
First it’s best to use a tripod to eliminate camera-shake. And don’t try to use auto focus since the lens will often focus on the “wrong” area of the frame. Use a manual setting.
I use a Nikkor manual micro 55mm lens with a Nikon D-200 camera–but hope to buy a 100mm micro lens soon. A less expensive way to get macro photos, is to use a close up filter–but buy a good quality one. Extension tubes are also relatively economical and can be attached to an existing lens. They are hollow tubes that bring the focus closer.
Do you have a few tips to share with aspiring photographers?
Keep shooting!! The more you are out there taking photos, the more you will learn! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read articles on photography and equipment. Also, approach a garden or subject with an understanding of composition and the lighting during different times of the day. And never give up!
What is your favorite camera feature or piece of equipment, and why?
I guess my favorite piece of equipment would be my tripod. My camera is important, of course, but without my tripod my macro, garden and landscape images wouldn’t be tack-sharp. After saving my money for awhile, I was finally able to purchase a Gitzo G-1228 MK-2 carbon filter tripod with a ball-head a few years ago. I love it!
What’s in the future for you?
I have been exploring night sky and astrophotography. I taught a class on night sky photography last fall. I hope to learn more about this subject myself, and build a portfolio of night sky images. I’m also dabbling with creating abstract fine art photos using camera movement and layering techniques.