Let's Get Digital
An Easy Way to Photograph Roses

By Kitty Belendez

I love taking pictures of roses. In the garden. At the rose shows. On garden tours and in public parks. There is always something new and special to capture. In addition to roses, I like to take pictures of my rose friends at special events. Bugs and diseases also make interesting subjects.

When I first began taking rose photos, I used Kodak color print film with a small fixed lens Canon G-III camera. Prints are great for sharing with friends, mounting into scrapbooks, and keeping in picture frames. This got to be expensive, and it took time to wait for the photos to arrive from the developer. 

Later, as I became more proficient, I switched to Kodak Ektachrome color slide film and a Canon AE-1 with various lenses including a zoom. I like slides because the photo quality is very good, they are inexpensive to produce, and I can use them in slide presentations at meetings. However, unless you have a really good filing system (which I don't) the slides can get very dusty, and are difficult to find when you want them. Also, this camera was heavy, especially with the zoom lens and the flash attachment.

As editor of "Rose Ecstasy," whenever I wanted to use photos in the bulletin, I would need to ask a friend to scan the prints or slides using his scanner, since I didn't have one. Even though my friend was very quick to respond to my many requests, it was always a hassle and inconvenient for me to take them back and forth to his house. Plus, I didn't have the control over the scans like I wanted.

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a digital camera which was given to me. This Sony Mavica camera was already two years old at the time I got it, so it was already outmoded but it still did its job. It used a 3" floppy disk with about 20 photos fitting on each 1.4 MB disk, when the setting is set to "fine quality." The newer cameras use a tiny disk that holds hundreds of photos. With my digital camera there is no film to buy or develop, the disk costs less than a dollar, and it's so quick to snap a shot anywhere, anytime, and instantly see your results. Of course, since then I have upgraded to a newer Sony camera with 7 megapixels and it uses a tiny disk that holds 2 GB and more.

The digital camera was scary at first. How did this thing work? I thought it was too technical! I got over my initial fear by taking the camera to the ARS 2000 national rose show in Atlanta where I took my first digital photos. I played and experimented with it. Some of the shots turned out pretty darned good and are even posted on our Pacific Southwest District web page. Once I found out how easy a digital camera is to use, I began taking pictures at the fall rose shows. That was in October 2000. I have taken thousands of digital photos since then.

By March 2001 I was in the process of designing web pages for the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society. I was so very happy that I had finally learned how to use the digital camera, although I still by no means consider myself an expert. But, I did learn how to use it and began to use it extensively on the web pages as well as in our Rose Ecstasy newsletter. 

I soon learned that if I wanted to have the best digital photos possible, I would have to purchase photo-editing software, and decided on Photoshop. Now, every photo I take is adjusted to perfection for sharpness, color balance and brightness. Junk in the background is cropped out, and flaws are touched up before it is published.

What's great about the digital camera is that it is instantaneous, somewhat like the old (and now defunct) Polaroid cameras, except much better. You can see what you have just shot right on the camera display. And if you don't like it, you can shoot again until you get it right. This way you are always assured of getting a picture of that special event. Plus, it's easy to e-mail your photos to family and friends.

When I first began taking digital photos, I was told that digital was poor quality for print reproduction. That is not exactly true. Many of my digital photos have been published in the American Rose magazine. You just need to know how to do it. If you need to make prints or slides from your digital photos, there are vendors on the Internet who can convert them for you. 

Here are some tips of some of the things I have learned about using digital photos successfully over the past two years.

© Copyright Kitty Belendez. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published in "Rose Ecstasy," bulletin of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.

Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez


Updated June 11, 2023
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