ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog en-us (C) ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:13:00 GMT Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:13:00 GMT ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog 120 120 The Flower and Garden Photography Conference  


I am excited to announce Out of Chicago's first ever Flower and Garden Photography Conference! We've been dreaming about this conference for a long time and it has finally become a reality. It's happening August 26-30th. Registration is open today and it is limited to 100 people so we expect it to sell out quickly. Join me with 9 other instructors to learn everything you could ever want to know about flower and garden photography. We've gathered a dynamic and enthusiastic group of instructors who can't wait to share their varied passions with you in five days of jam-packed learning and fun. Presentations, critique sessions, post-processing sessions and lots of socializing will happen at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Deerfield, IL. (hey, even happy hour is included) and we'll be taking small groups out all day for instructor-led shoots at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden, a few miles from the hotel. Out of Chicago is known for its dynamic, fun and hands-on conferences where you get to spend lots of time with instructors - learning, interacting, shooting and sharing our passion for photography. I'll be doing the opening keynote to introduce you to one of my favorite places in the world, The Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as my approach to flower photography. I'll be teaching lots of Lensbaby during the conference, too. Be prepared for a creative, fun, energizing week of learning!  To get details, see our line-up of fantastic instructors and register visit

Use my special code to get $300 off your registration for the 5 day workshop: BELMONT 

(good until midnight Monday, March 5)

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden flower and garden photography conference flower photography garden photography macro photography photography conference out of chicago Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:00:56 GMT
Photographing Orchids - Tips to Create Stunning Images in an Orchid Exhibit If you enjoy photographing flowers in the warmth of the greenhouses during these cold winter months, The Orchid Show, “Asia in Bloom,” at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the perfect place to be. Regenstein Hall, the galleries and greenhouses have all been transformed into a magical and elaborate display of 10,000 orchids with a beautiful Asian theme. The show opened February 10 and runs until March 25 and is open each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tripods are only allowed in the exhibit during “Photographer’s Hours,” Thursdays, 8:15 - 9:45 a.m. (best to purchase tickets online as these special hours will sell out and are limited).  Tickets are $10.00 for members/$12.00 for non-members.  To order tickets online or find more information about the show, please visit the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website:

100mm macro f4.5, handheld


For those of you who live in other parts of the country, many botanic gardens have wonderful orchid shows going on this time of year - Longwood Garden, New York Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, to name a few. Some conservatories, like Chicago's Lincoln Park Conservatory, have a dedicated orchid room, open all year. Even if you don’t have a local orchid show or conservatory, find a greenhouse or florist that supplies orchids and go there to shoot. In the Chicago area, we have Orchids by Hausermann in Villa Park, my favorite place to shoot and buy orchids. My neighborhood florist, Hlavacek Florist, has a wonderful orchid collection and they work with Chicago Botanic Garden to set up a beautiful display within the Orchid Show. I’ve gotten some of my best orchid photographs in these places because I can often move the orchids or stage them since they are in pots. Get permission first and I always buy an orchid or two as my thanks for letting me shoot. As you can imagine, orchids are taking over my house!


Image in CBG exhibit, The Orchid Show 2015-2017, shot at Orchids by Hausermann, 100mm macro f/9, tripod


Orchid shot at Hlavacek Florist, 100mm macro, f/32, tripod


Orchids are complex and exotic flowers and, in my opinion, one of the hardest flowers to photograph. They are worth the effort, however, as they are one of the most beloved and beautiful flowers. One of my favorite things about orchids is the stories they elicit - orchids can have such wonderful human or animal-like characteristics.


'Graceful Ballerina' 100mm macro with macro ring light, f20, handheld

Experiment with a range of apertures to create different effects with orchids. When my goal is to create an image with every part in sharp focus, I move in close and use a small aperture, going as high as f22 - f32, depending on the depth of the flower. Sharp close-ups of orchids require these higher apertures to get everything in focus. Many orchids are complex and have great depth and interesting details to capture. Apertures this high require the use of a tripod to avoid camera shake with slow shutter speeds. If you worry about lens diffraction, the loss of sharpness that can happen when shooting in the higher apertures, use focus stacking if that is of interest to you. I personally don’t use focus stacking or worry about diffraction - a few simple steps in post processing can bring detail back to the image. Keep in mind that shooting in higher apertures will bring forth more detail in your background, too. This is often why I move in close to simplify and eliminate as much background as possible. As with all flower photography, paying attention to your backgrounds is just as important as the flower itself.   

Image in CBG exhibit, The Orchid Show 2015-2017, 100mm macro f/22, tripod


180mm macro, f/32, tripod

My favorite way to shoot flowers of any kind is to use selective focus to produce a softer, dreamier image.   Using a wider aperture will help blur the distractions of the background and bring only one flower or part of a flower in focus.  There is enough light in many parts of the greenhouses to handhold your camera if using wider apertures. This is a great way to shoot when tripods are not allowed in the exhibit. I study the orchid carefully, looking for interesting details that catch my eye - a beautiful curve or a soft ruffle. Using selective focus to draw the eye is a powerful, creative and fun way to shoot. Decide what is most important to have in focus and experiment with a small range of apertures to see what effect is most pleasing. 

100mm macro, f/6.3, handheld


100mm macro, f/4.5, handheld

100mm macro, f/6.3, handheld


70-200mm lens shot at 200mm, f4.5, handheld. The compression of longer focal length lenses helps blur backgrounds.


To achieve a softer look I always reach for my Lensbaby lenses, particularly the Velvet 56mm and Velvet 85mm to create a beautiful, ethereal portrait of the orchids. The Lensbaby Velvet will give me a beautiful blurred background, as well, and images are often perfect straight out of camera.

Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Lensbaby Velvet 85mm, f/4, handheld


Phalaenopsis OrchidPhalaenopsis Orchid Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f/4, tripod


Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, f/4, handheld

Spathoglottis Ground OrchidSpathoglottis Ground Orchid Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 35 Optic, f/4, handheld - another fun lens system to shoot orchids. 


It may be challenging to find a good composition for an orchid or grouping of orchids. Many orchids grow in clusters or in close proximity to other orchids or plants, making it hard to isolate one orchid from others and eliminate distracting backgrounds. Take your time and experiment. Move around to find the best background. Look for darker foliage and backgrounds that might be further back.  Sometimes positioning yourself just a fraction of an inch in a different direction can make all the difference in eliminating distracting elements and spots of light. If you can’t control your background, cloning out areas or darkening areas in post processing will help. I prefer to get as much right in camera as possible, but the reality of photographing orchids is that you may have to do a bit of post processing magic to improve your image and eliminate distracting elements.

100mm macro, f/13, handheld. Distracting background darkened in layer in Photoshop.


100mm macro, f/4, handheld. Foliage in a distance paired with a lower aperture created a beautiful blurred background. 


Another trick I have found helpful in photographing orchids in exhibits is to use a macro ring light. I own the Yongnuo YN-14EX, which is compatible with my Canon camera. I consider myself a natural light photographer; I had never used or liked flash with flowers, so it was a big step for me to even give it a try. When shooting in dimly lit exhibit spaces where I can’t use a tripod, a macro ring light allows me to get sharp, well-lit images handheld. It also allows me to get in closer in a way I may not be able to do with a tripod in an exhibit. Sometimes I like the effect, sometimes I don’t, but it’s always in my bag to experiment with while shooting orchids. By powering up or powering down the flash I can control the amount of light in an effort to produce as natural-looking an image as possible.  It is also helpful for illuminating the deeper centers of orchids and in darkening the backgrounds. 

100mm macro with macro ring light, f/11, handheld. Note how the flash darkens the background.


100mm macro with macro ring light, f/5, handheld


Don’t forget to carry your diffuser and reflector. On a sunny day, the light in the greenhouses can be harsh and contrasty. The diffuser will soften the light and the reflector will bounce light into those inner recesses of the orchid. Remember, you always want the part of the orchid you are drawing the eye to to be well-illuminated.

100mm macro, f/11, handheld

Some of my orchid photographs that were on exhibit in the 2015-2017 Orchid Shows at CBG were captured with black backgrounds. For someone who prefers shooting with the backgrounds nature provides, this was a new way of shooting prompted by this commissioned project. It’s important to know that these were staged with potted orchids outside the exhibit. You are not allowed to use black backdrops or even slip a piece of black mat board behind the orchids in most orchid exhibits. Save that kind of shooting for home or a place that will allow you to move potted orchids.

100mm macro, f/32. Shot in my kitchen near window light. Orchid purchased at Orchids by Hausermann.

100mm macro, f/32. Shot at Orchids by Hausermann.


Give orchids a try and keep in mind that, as with anything, the more you practice and experiment, the better you will get. Have fun and enjoy the beauty of these exotic flowers!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) orchid photography orchid show orchid show 2018 orchids by hausermann chicago botanic garden flower photography hlavacek florist lensbaby lensbaby velvet orchids Sun, 25 Feb 2018 15:57:09 GMT
Upcoming Conferences LotusLotus 2018 is off to a very busy start! I've been busy planning and preparing for so many exciting events. Just a summary of some of the things to come:

I am honored to be a featured speaker at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference on May 19th and 20th in Southbridge, MA. I will be representing Lensbaby and my presentation will be "Unleash Your Creative Spirit: Creating Beautiful Flower Portraits with Lensbaby." We'll also have hands-on shooting with Lensbabies. To learn more about the conference, visit Hazel's website by clicking here and more about my talk here. Use my special discount code to get $50 off: anne50. The code expires on 2/28.

Although our Out of Chicago Winter Conference was cancelled due to a big blizzard the day before the conference, the following podcast with Out of Chicago's Chris Smith was a lead-in to the conference where I talk a bit about my presentation and thoughts on creativity. It was a huge disappointment that we had to cancel but it was done with everyone's safety in mind. I'll be doing this presentation at our Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 22-24. Details will be coming soon on that conference at

Meanwhile, we are about to announce a very exciting new Out of Chicago conference, The Flower and Garden Photography Conference, August 26-30. This conference has been a dream of Chris Smith and mine for a long time and we've finally made it a reality. We are bringing an amazing line-up of instructors together to teach you everything you could want to know about flower and garden photography and we'll be shooting every day at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden, my home away from home. If you aren't on the email list for, go sign up now so you will receive an email when registration opens for this event on Tuesday, February 27. We expect this event to sell out quickly since it is limited to 100 people. Check back here or on my social media sites for a special discount code you can use to get $300 off. Stay tuned for lots more info. I am so excited about this event! Here's a podcast Chris and I did to talk about the Chicago Botanic Garden and the event.

Stay tuned for more info and please don't hesitate to contact me through this website with questions. Keep shooting - The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden is amazing, the Spring Flower Show at both Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory are open. Despite it still being winter, there are always ways to capture flowers year-round!




]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower and garden photography conference flower photography lensbaby macro photography out of chicago creative photography conference Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:29:27 GMT
Post on Visual Wilderness: 6 Essential Principles for Stunning Flower Photography  

Soft DahliaSoft Dahlia I am excited to announce that I am now a guest author for the wonderful learning community, Visual Wilderness. I am so honored that Jay and Varina Patel asked me to join their team of writers, so many of whom I greatly admire and follow. Visual Wilderness is an amazing site for learning about all aspects of nature and landscape photography. Subscribe to their newsletter and check out all the video learning experiences they offer. Follow the link to Part 1 and Part 2 of my article. Enjoy! I look forward to writing about many aspects of flower photography, Lensbaby, and creativity in the future.   

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography landscape photography lensbaby macro photography nature photography photography education visual wilderness Sat, 27 Jan 2018 14:24:00 GMT
Creative Photography Conference, May 19-20, 2018, Southbridge, MA. I'm excited to be presenting at the Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA., May 19-20, 2018. Thank you to Hazel Meredith for inviting me! More information about my presentation to come soon. Use my special discount code to get $50 off: anne50. The code expires on 2/28.  

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) hazel meredith lensbaby photography conference creative photography conference creativity flower photography Thu, 16 Nov 2017 18:36:00 GMT
A Trip to Longwood Gardens Oh my goodness! I have been so lax in my blog posts this fall. I just realized I hadn't posted anything since August! It has indeed been a busy Fall/busy year, full of so many glorious things - frequent trips to Boston to spend time with family and my new granddaughter, conferences and speaking engagements, Lensbaby demos, as well as trying to honor my promise to myself that I faithfully carve out time for my own creative growth. It is so important as a teacher and an artist to take time for your own photography - a time to play, experiment and reenergize your creativity. That is exactly why I treated myself to three full days of blissful photographing at Longwood Garden near Philadelphia in late August. I love Longwood Gardens; you could not ask for a more beautiful garden full of wonderful subjects, friendly staff and incredible vistas at every turn. And thank you to two friends I treasure - Chung Kim and Mary Malinconico - who live relatively close to Longwood and met me to enjoy some shooting, too. 

I timed my trip so that the dahlias would be in their glory. At Chicago Botanic Garden we did not have our usual array of dahlias because the Garden took on a Brazilian theme and areas that usually have plentiful dahlias were planted with tropical plants this summer. As a result, I was especially eager to photograph one of my favorite flowers at Longwood and they did not disappoint.

One of my stops on the first day was the Flower Garden Walk, an area teeming with 1000's of dahlias.

                 Lensbaby Velvet 85mm 

DahliaDahlia                 Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Cheerful DahliaCheerful Dahlia                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia from BehindDahlia from Behind                  Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Glowing Velvety PetalsGlowing Velvety Petals                                                                  Lensbaby Velvet 85mm DahliaDahlia

As I was leaving Longwood after my first full day of shooting, a friendly volunteer stopped me to talk and ask about my photography. I told her how much I loved dahlias and she asked if I had visited the Trial Garden. Well, no, I hadn't gotten there that day but I had an hour until the Gardens closed, so I raced over. Oh my! Talk about dahlia heaven...rows and rows and rows of dahlias they were trying out for future planting! I had beautiful early evening light, so I got to work! I immediately knew where I was going to spend a good part of day two! It was there on the 2nd day that I ran into an Out of Chicago conference attendee, Helen Wagner, who happens to be a horticulturist at Longwood. Small world! Helen is one of those people you meet and can't help but love her immediately. 

I am so drawn to dahlias with interesting curls. They have so much more personality. Although a dahlia show judge would tell you this is imperfect and would not even be included in a dahlia competition, it is pure perfection to me! 

                                                                   Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia CurlsDahlia Curls                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia at Longwood GardensDahlia at Longwood Gardens                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia at Longwood GardensDahlia at Longwood Gardens                                        Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic and Macro Converters

Dahlia Close-UpDahlia Close-Up Of course, the waterlilies at Longwood captured my attention, as well. They have a magnificent display! The light was challenging while I was there, often too strong for photographing flowers without being able to diffuse them. I typically only shoot aquatic flowers on bright overcast days. I found plenty of flowers in more shaded areas to keep me happy. Most of my waterlilies are shot with my Canon 70-300mm lens because they are farther away. 

'Texas Shell Pink' Waterlily - Longwood Gardens'Texas Shell Pink' Waterlily - Longwood Gardens Waterlily at Longwood GardenWaterlily at Longwood Garden Longwood Aquatic BeautyLongwood Aquatic Beauty 'Emily Grant Hutchings' Night Flowering Waterlily'Emily Grant Hutchings' Night Flowering Waterlily Trio of WaterliliesTrio of Waterlilies Lastly, in the Conservatory, which has endless subjects and is so large you can easily get lost, I spent a lot of time with the roses and ferns, two of my favorite subjects at any garden.

How perfect to find a rose with a heart in the center! 

                  Canon 100mm Macro

Heart of the RoseHeart of the Rose                  Canon 100mm Macro Soft and PinkSoft and Pink                                                                    Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Fern UnfurlingFern Unfurling

                                                                   Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Ruffles of the Bird's Nest FernRuffles of the Bird's Nest Fern What a wonderful treat to spend 3 full days at such a beautiful garden! I intend to travel to Longwood more in the future and hopefully do some Out of Chicago workshops there. Stay tuned! 

Next up: The National Dahlia Show at Chicago Botanic Garden! Imagine a flower show with 1000's of dahlias, all posed for photographing!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) dahlias ferns flower photography garden photography lensbaby velvet 56mm lensbaby velvet 85mm macro photography roses waterlilies longwood gardens Tue, 31 Oct 2017 20:15:13 GMT
In the Water with the Waterlilies - Garfield Park Conservatory If you live in the Chicago area, we are so fortunate to have three wonderful places to photograph flowers and plant life. Of course, most people who know me know I spend a lot of time at Chicago Botanic Garden. It is just a few miles from my home and it has become my "home away from home" through my years of photographing flowers and botanicals. We also have two other gems in our area - Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory, places I spend a lot of time in the winter months. After spending this past Saturday at Garfield Park Conservatory for a unique and wonderful experience called "In the Water with the Waterlilies," I came to realize that Garfield is a wonderful place to photograph year-round and it has incredible and beautiful outdoor gardens to explore in the summer, gardens I didn't even know existed before. The large aquatic garden, teeming with water lilies and lotuses, is only one of those outdoor spaces to explore.

WaterlilyWaterlily "In the Water with the Waterlilies" was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of the summer for me. The program was led by Kathy Cahill, a Horticulturist and Aquatic Specialist at Garfield. I have known Kathy for a few years and she is one of the nicest, most generous souls I have ever met. Her love of plants is infectious and her willingness to share her knowledge and help others is generous. She is the best possible ambassador for GPC. All the horticulturists and staff at Garfield have impressed me with their friendliness - plain and simple, it's a happy place!

On Saturday we started our morning with breakfast foods, coffee and warm introductions. A huge thank you to Mattie Wilson who organized all the details of the morning, another gem at GPC. The group quickly became very friendly and interactive, which made the experience even more fun. The class was a small group of 10, composed of artists, photographers, scientists and water lily enthusiasts who simply wanted the experience of getting up close and personal with the waterlilies in the water. We learned a bit about the layout of the large pond, what to expect in the water (including the 3 resident Koi named "Noah," "Bubbles" and "Casper" (yes, Casper is white), and how to navigate around waterlilies. I learned an interesting thing I never realized in all my years of photographing waterlilies - a harmless dye is added to the water to darken it. It serves several purposes: controlling algae, making the pond appear deeper and more aesthetically pleasing, and protecting fish from predators. It's also great for us photographers, creating nice dark water to help highlight the real stars, the flowers.

Waterlily Close-UpWaterlily Close-Up Then, into the water we went! We spent about 1 1/2 hours in the water, free to roam within the two areas of the large pond, with Kathy's total trust and blessing to enjoy ourselves. And enjoy ourselves we did! There were literally 100's of waterlilies in the pond. You had to plan your route, as the water lilies are lush and densely planted and it was challenging getting through entwined stems and pads of the plants. What a thrill to be able to get right up close, to touch and smell the waterlilies. The water was about mid-thigh deep - I wore swim shorts, a quick drying swim shirt and water shoes. I went in with my camera and 100mm macro lens as well as a diffuser to block the strong sunlight.

'Nangkwag Muang Prai' Waterlily'Nangkwag Muang Prai' Waterlily The above waterlily was my favorite of the morning - 'Nangkwag Muang Prai,' also known as a "Summoning Lady" or "Waving Princess," referring to the foliage that looks like it is waving. I had never seen a water lily with foliage like this - stunningly beautiful!

The two artists in our group parked themselves with their paints and canvases near a Red Russian lotus that was beginning to open. This shot below was taken from the bridge looking down on the lotus from above. The bridge divides the two sections of the aquatic pond.

Opening LotusOpening Lotus


Up Close with the WaterliliesUp Close with the Waterlilies Below is the underside of a Victoria Waterlily pad. We had to be careful not to get too close to these magnificent pads - the thorns protect them from predators in the water.

Underside of a Waterlily PadUnderside of a Waterlily Pad What a wonderful day this was! I hope GPC will offer this experience again. I encourage you to visit Garfield and explore the many rooms inside the conservatory but also enjoy the outdoor spaces. It is truly a treasure of a place in Chicago!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) in the water with the waterlilies lotus macro photography nangkwag muang prai waterlily summer victoria waterlily pad waterlilies flower photography garfield park conservatory Mon, 07 Aug 2017 23:41:10 GMT
Atlas Moths at the Chicago Botanic Garden This is my 5th year photographing the butterflies at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit for Chicago Botanic Garden. I dearly love this early morning time with the butterflies - a chance to capture their beauty and learn about these wonderful creatures, then share my images with the Garden. This year the exhibit has been moved to its permanent location at the Regenstein Learning Campus and it is better than ever. After being away for a couple of weeks I came back to a lush garden full of beautiful flowers and so many butterflies, as well as an incredible display of Atlas moths. When I was there on Wednesday, there were 6 Atlas moths in the serviceberry tree near the pupae emergence room. Since then, 4 more have emerged and been released, bringing the total to 10!

Female Atlas Moth

Atlas MothAtlas Moth Atlas moths belong to the Saturniidae family and are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia.  They are the largest moth in the world in terms of wing surface and their wing span can reach 10-12 inches.  There are varying theories as to why the moth is called the Atlas moth - perhaps being named after the titan of Greek mythology, or because of their atlas or map-like wing patterns, or perhaps because in Cantonese the name translates into "snake's head moth," referring to the patterning of the curved forewing tip that resembles a snake's head with eye spot.

Mating Female and Male Atlas Moths - the male is the smaller moth on top

Atlas Moths MatingAtlas Moths Mating When the moths emerge from the cocoon they have no mouth parts and do not eat, relying only on their fat stores from the caterpillar stage.  Their sole purpose once they emerge is to reproduce. They live only 1 - 2 weeks.  The female secretes a pheromone to attract her mate.  The male Atlas uses his long feathery antennae, which are much larger than the female antennae, to detect the pheromones and find the female.  Once the eggs are laid, the moth dies.  The caterpillars emerge 10-14 days later and the cycle of life begins again - egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth.

Side View of a Female Atlas 

Atlas MothAtlas Moth Atlas MothAtlas Moth Close up of the female Atlas from a previous year - note the transparent triangular windows on the wings.

Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female If you haven't been to Butterflies and Blooms yet this year, I highly recommend getting there soon to see these fascinating creatures before they are gone, along with lots of other butterflies and beautiful flowers. 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) butterflies butterflies and blooms butterfly photography flower photography macro photography moths atlas moths chicago botanic garden Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:07:05 GMT
Lens Review for the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Hello Friends! Lensbaby asked me to do a review of the Velvet 85mm for their blog and you can read it here.

So many people have been emailing me with questions about the difference between the Velvet 56mm and the Velvet 85mm. I hope this review will help you understand the differences. I personally would not want to choose between the two lenses. They are both in my bag all the time and used every time I am out on a shoot. Please don't hesitate to contact me through my website if you have questions I can help you with. 

A few images shot recently with the Velvet 85mm...

DahliaDahlia 'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia Gooseneck LoosestrifeGooseneck Loosestrife

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) lensbaby velvet 85mm lensbaby velvet 56mm flower photography chicago botanic garden dahlias lens review Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:10:10 GMT
The New Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Tulip at Tower Hill Botanic GardenTulip at Tower Hill Botanic Garden Yesterday Lensbaby finally launched the new Velvet 85mm lens. I was honored to be asked by Lensbaby to beta test the lens, so I have been shooting with it since the beginning of March. I was literally jumping up and down when the UPS man rang the doorbell and I immediately headed out to give this lens a whirl! Do you know how hard it is to shoot with a lens you are so excited about and not talk about it or share any images until launch day - for four full months?! Finally I can bring those images out of hiding and share them along with my enthusiasm for this lens with others. I'm already getting lots of questions, so hopefully this blog post will answer them.

First, some specs:

Manual Focus and Manual Aperture

Focal Length: 85mm

Aperture Range: f/1.8 - f/16

Minimum Focusing Distance: 9.5 inches (Macro 1:2)

Compatibility: APS-C and Full Frame - Canon DSLR, Nikon DSLR, Sony E, Sony Alpha, Fuji X, Micro 4/3, Pentax K, Samsung NX

Weight: 18.7 oz.

Like the Velvet 56mm (which many of you have heard me say is my favorite lens ever), the Velvet 85mm has that signature velvety, ethereal glow when shot in the lower apertures. The Velvet 85mm is being marketed primarily as a portrait lens. The added compression with the longer focal length and the beautiful bokeh makes it a perfect choice for portrait work, rivaling any great quality 85mm portrait lens.

That being said, it is also a great close-up lens capable of capturing detail along with that signature glow. I primarily use both the Velvets between f/2 and f/5.6 because I want that ethereal look to my images. Focusing at 9.5 inches means it won't get in quite as close as the Velvet 56mm, which focuses at 5 inches, but when you need to get closer, you can always use an extension tube to move in closer. Like the Velvet 56mm, it is perfect for flower photography. The area where it outperforms the Velvet 56mm in my opinion is when you do pull back a bit to include more background. What the Velvet 85mm does to backgrounds will make you swoon (see image above). There are no other words than to say that bokeh is delicious! Yes, the Velvet 56mm produces gorgeous backgrounds, too. If you have heard me talk about flower photography, I talk a lot about the importance of backgrounds. One of the reasons I love all Lensbaby lenses is the beautiful backgrounds they create straight out of camera, very little if any post processing needed. The Velvet 85mm takes that beautiful background a step further.  I will be curious to hear other reviews of the lens, but I also found it easier to focus than the Velvet 56mm. That may be due to the fact that I have an easier time focusing when pulled back a slight bit. I have found myself nailing the focus with very little struggle.  

So bottom line, I know I'm going to get asked, "which one is for me?" Well, in all honesty, being the Lensbaby addict that I am, I will use both equally. If you are a flower photographer who likes to work close to your subjects, the 56mm probably fits the bill. But, if you like doing portrait work or you like pulling back a little in photographing flowers and want that added compression, then the 85mm would be your baby. When I want to be up very close, I'll have the 56mm on, but when photographing groups of flowers (it was amazing with orchids), I'll have the 85mm on. And when I'm photographing my new granddaughter (I'm learning to love newborn photography), I'll reach for the 85mm.

I also encourage those with both the 56mm and the 85mm to do some magical landscapes with the lenses. I have never considered myself a landscape photographer but I began experimenting with both lenses this spring and it has opened a new door for me. I'm now constantly on the lookout for landscapes and small scenes to capture with a bit of magical glow.

And now I'm going to deluge you with a lot of images from the Velvet 85mm...Enjoy! 

  Tulipa 'Cash'Tulipa 'Cash' Shy TulipShy Tulipa 'Foxtrot' Crabapples in BloomCrabapples in Bloom Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids RoseRose RannunculusRannunculus FernFern Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' TulipTulip Bending in the WindBending in the Wind FernFern Unfolding Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow'Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow' A Peek InsideA Peek Inside Graceful FernGraceful Fern The lens is currently selling for $499.95. For more information or to preorder the lens, visit the Lensbaby website at Lens will be available for shipping on July 11. Please don't hesitate to email me through my website with any questions about the new lens. I'm always happy to talk flower photography or Lensbaby!


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm, Velvet 85mm, Velvet 56mm, flower photography, macro photography, soft focus, Chicago Botanic Garden Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:32:44 GMT
Some Tulip Favorites - A Feast for the Eyes! This spring the tulips at Chicago Botanic Garden have been extraordinary. When I photograph flowers, I am on the lookout for interesting subjects with personality or character. Tulips have always been one of my favorite flowers to photograph. They are flowers full of personality, wonderful lines, curves and unique curls. Some years are better than others for finding interesting tulips. This year I feel like I hit the jackpot! Of the early tulips, these pink beauties were my favorites. I shared a post earlier with some of these tulips. They were not labeled so I don't know the name but they were so full of personality, I spent days photographing them. 

The graceful curving leaf wrapping itself around this bud made it a beautiful subject.

Graceful CurveGraceful Curve  This one is clearly a dancer. I think she's doing the flamenco!

Dancing TulipDancing Tulip And perhaps another dancing pose.

Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude This one was shot with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm to create a soft, ethereal look to this tulip with its beautiful curving leaf. 

Tulip StudyTulip Study  Another tulip I loved photographing was the Tulipa 'Akebono' in the beds outside the Graham Bulb Garden. The beautiful sherbet-like colors, popping red edge and the sweeping lines of the petals made these perfect to create more abstract compositions. 

Or pull back and show the graceful lines of these tulips. Tulipa 'Akebono'Tulipa 'Akebono' Tulipa 'Akebono'Tulipa 'Akebono' But my favorite tulip of all time made an appearance again this year in the Sensory Garden and I was thrilled - Tulipa 'Ice Cream." Talk about personality! This tulip is loaded with personality and looks good enough to eat when it fully opens. These are the latest of the tulips to bloom, in fact, they are still opening slowly but surely. They are spectacular at each stage, from bud to fully open. 

Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' And look at that unique curl of the leaf. What a great find! Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' As they open they begin to reveal the "ice cream" within. I'm thinking vanilla, what about you?

Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' I even stood in the rain with my umbrella to catch this one covered in raindrops. Just like an ice cream cone!  Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' And fully's a bowl of ice cream! I adore these tulips! Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' Although many of the tulips have come and gone, there are still so many beautiful things to see at the Garden right now. Did you read my last post about the crabapples in bloom? They are still beautiful, but they won't last much longer before dropping all their petals like snow. Soon the spring gardens will make way for the summer gardens and there will be a whole new palette of color and beauty to capture. Can't wait for water lilies and dahlias! 


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, spring, tulips, Tulipa Akebono, Tulipa Ice Cream, flower photography, macro photography Sat, 13 May 2017 00:51:45 GMT
Lensbaby Blog Post Graceful CurveGraceful Curve                                                            Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

I was thrilled to be asked to write an article on flower photography for the Lensbaby blog. It is such a pleasure to share my enthusiasm for their wonderful lenses. Please enjoy the post at My favorite lens, the Velvet 56mm, is on sale right now at - $100 off. That's a great deal! After reading my post you'll understand why it is my all-time favorite lens. 

There is still time to join me at the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 23-25. I'll be presenting two programs and leading an all day workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Lensbaby reps will be there, too, and you can try Lensbabies all weekend, during my workshop, my flower shootout and for the photowalk Lensbaby is leading. You can read more about this wonderful conference and register here. Use the code "belmont100" to receive $100 off the conference. From Art Wolfe's opening talk on Friday to Rick Sammon's closing talk on Sunday, the weekend is jam-packed with learning and fun. 

It's been a beautiful spring at Chicago Botanic Garden. I've been photographing almost every day and will be sharing more images soon. Happy spring and get out and enjoy nature! 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby, seeinanewway, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, Out of Chicago Summer Conference, flower photography, Chicago Botanic Garden Fri, 12 May 2017 03:30:25 GMT
Crabapples in Bloom One of my favorite events at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the week when the scores of crabapples burst into bloom. We are right at the peak of that bloom now. A walk around the Great Basin is a must this time of year. Start at the Lakeside Garden path near the English Walled Garden and enter a canopy of crabapples lining the path. Each year when I see this view, I feel like a young child entering a fairyland. It is a magical sight that fills me with awe.

Lakeside Garden - Crabapples in BloomLakeside Garden - Crabapples in Bloom Crabapple PathCrabapple Path

This year I decided to try my Lensbaby Velvet 56mm to capture the mystical and ethereal feeling the trees evoke. I love the results! Today was quite sunny and the Velvet captured the sparkling flowers as if they were dancing in the sunlight. 

Sunny CrabapplesSunny Crabapples Crabapple Path in SpringCrabapple Path in Spring If you continue on the path to the right toward the Arch Bridge, the canopy of beautiful blossoms continues.

Mystical CrabapplesMystical Crabapples Cross over the bridge to Evening Island and continue around the Lake Basin with beautiful views of the crabapples and their variation in color from white to pink to red. Beautiful views abound at every turn. This is one of my favorite views looking back toward Evening Island at the Serpentine Bridge.  

Crabapples on Evening IslandCrabapples on Evening Island There are other lovely garden views scattered around the Garden, as well.

Quiet Place in the GardenQuiet Place in the Garden Sit and Soak in the BeautySit and Soak in the Beauty Crabapples in Bloom at the GardenCrabapples in Bloom at the Garden Crabapple in Graham Bulb GardenCrabapple in Graham Bulb Garden And, yes, as a macro flower photographer I am always on the lookout for subjects to capture up close. This one was captured with my 180mm macro and look at the gorgeous background that lens creates.

Selkirk CrabappleSelkirk Crabapple And this with the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Twist optic. What a fun optic the Twist is!

Crabapple Blossoms in SpringCrabapple Blossoms in Spring If you live in the Chicago area, this is the time to visit the Garden. Not only are the crabapples at peak but there are still many beautiful tulips in bloom. I wish we could hold on to this time of year a bit longer - it is so fleeting but, without a doubt, my favorite time of year.

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Crabapples, spring, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lakeside Garden Path, Great Basin, flower photography, garden scenes Sat, 06 May 2017 03:55:34 GMT
What's in Bloom Spring is well on its way at the Chicago Botanic Garden! This week the staff has been busy planting all the gardens and pots with spring blooms. Each day new flowers are being added. The daffodils are in bloom, the magnolias are opening, a few early tulips are already in bloom and the rest of the tulips are not far behind. If temps stay warm and we continue to get some sunshine, it looks like many will begin to open next week and, as always, it will be a spectacular display of color. These past few days I have been photographing a small patch of pink tulips in the courtyard between the Sensory Garden and the Enabling Garden. These tulips were transferred there from the production greenhouses already in bloom. I fell in love with their soft, interesting petal variations and lovely leaves, many of them enveloping the buds in a hug.

Graceful CurveGraceful Curve TulipTulip EmbraceEmbrace Tulip StudyTulip Study Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude This same type of tulip was planted in an indoor display in Regenstein last week and I enjoyed photographing them there while waiting for more blooms outdoors. These have since been replaced with other tulips and spring blooms.

TulipTulip Tulip TextureTulip Texture TulipTulip Another patch of tulips that I have found blooming are in a raised bed at the south end of the Graham Bulb Garden, a colorful treat for the eyes. In this first image, I was much more interested in the graceful curve of the leaf than the flower itself.

Graceful LineGraceful Line Early TulipEarly Tulip This is just the beginning! In the coming weeks there will be tulips in bloom everywhere. Stay tuned for more updates! Happy spring and happy Easter weekend! 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Tulips, Chicago Botanic Garden, Spring, flower photography, macro photography, Lensbaby Velvet 56, spring flowers Fri, 14 Apr 2017 19:44:36 GMT
The Arrival of Spring Spring is finally arriving! It has come slowly with fits and starts - some encouraging and much-welcomed days of warmth and sunshine, followed by cold, rain, grey skies and even some significant snow in March. The appearance of the crocuses blanketing the grassy hillside on Evening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden this past week is a sure sign that we are well on our way. They were in full bloom this past weekend and will likely last through the week. It is always a breathtakingly beautiful sight and a welcome sign that spring has truly begun. I spent two days photographing them this weekend. There is ample space between the clusters of flowers to sit (take a garbage bag to sit on - trust me on this one!) and get low to the ground to photograph them. I use my 100mm macro as well as my Lensbaby lenses to capture these flowers in a variety of ways. When pulled back to include a cluster of flowers, I tend to shoot in a lower aperture to blur the brown grass. When getting in close for a macro shot of the inside of the flower I experiment with a range of apertures and have extension tubes handy if I want to get in extra close.

I will be presenting a program on "The Art of Flower Photography" at the Morton Arboretum Photographic Society on Monday, April 10th at 7 p.m. Guests are welcome. Please visit the MAPS website for more information.

We are still accepting registrations for the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 23-25. I will be conducting an all-day shoot at The Chicago Botanic Garden on Friday, a class "Let's Get Creative with Flower Photography" (all about Lensbaby) on Saturday as well as a flower shootout in the afternoon. On Sunday I teach a class "The Art of Flower Photography." Please join us for what is the best photography conference around - loads of fun, learning and hands-on shooting. Use the code "belmont100" to receive $100 off. 

Enjoy some spring crocuses and stay tuned - I'm watching carefully for the emergence of tulips - we are getting close!

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island Petal DancerPetal Dancer 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island Crocus in SpringCrocus in Spring

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Crocus, 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island, flower photography, macro photography, Lensbaby, spring, spring blooms Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:56:13 GMT
The 2017 Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden Sometimes those of us who enjoy photographing the world up-close have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden is truly spectacular this year! One of my favorite views is of the arches filled with Vanda orchids of every color in the palm allée of the Tropical Greenhouse. The Garden really outdid itself with so many of the displays. I'm proud to have my 40 X 60 inch orchid photographs exhibited Krehbiel Gallery once again this year. Come step into a paradise of over 10,000 orchids in the midst of winter.

If you missed my articles on orchid photography last year, both here in my blog and the article I wrote for the Out of Chicago website, I have provided the links below. I hope they will help you get some great photographs in the show this year. My one recommendation I would add for this year's show is to pack a longer focal length lens in your bag. Many orchids are set back or up high, making them difficult to photograph unless you have a longer lens. I carry my 180mm macro and my 70-300mm along with my 100mm macro and all my Lensbaby gear. Yes, my pack gets a bit heavy, but I'd rather be prepared than sorry!

A Look at this Year's Orchid Show at The Chicago Botanic Garden - Out of Chicago, Feb. 2016

Photographing the Orchids at the Orchid Show - Feb 2016 - talks about using a macro ring light with orchids

Enjoy the show and have fun photographing the beautiful and always fascinating orchids!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, 2017 Orchid Show, flower photography, orchids, orchid photography, macro photography, orchid show Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:27:41 GMT
The Out of Chicago Summer Conference

This June, I'll be teaching at the fourth annual Out of Chicago Conference! I hope you can join me for what will be an amazing experience, with classes, workshops and photowalks in the heart of Downtown Chicago! Save $50 until February 18 when you use the code "EARLYSUMMER" — register now at

On Friday, I'll be leading an all-day workshop with Ben Hutchinson from Lensbaby - "Photographing the Flowers and Landscapes of the Chicago Botanic Garden"

What could be more fun than a day of shooting the flowers and the garden landscapes of a world class garden right here in Chicago - The Chicago Botanic Garden! Anne will guide you to the best places to photograph and help you master the techniques of flower photography. Ben, as our favorite Lensbaby rep, will help you master the use of these creative and fun lenses for both close up and landscape shooting. Bring your macro lenses, a tripod and we’ll have Lensbaby lenses available for you to try if you don’t own them. This workshop will include an online meeting prior to the conference when we’ll talk about flower photography basics and details of the day. Transportation will be provided. 

On Saturday I have a class - "Lets Get Creative with Flower Photography

Learn to see beyond the sharply focused image to the magic of seeing and photographing flowers in a whole new artistic way. This class will focus on how to use aperture and selective focus with both traditional macro lenses and creative lenses to create evocative and beautiful portraits of flowers. We will explore a whole new way of looking at flowers, learning to see and isolate beautiful, interesting and often unnoticed details. Learn about the magic of Lensbaby lenses to create beautiful blur and creative effects in photographing flowers. Anne will offer tips and techniques for using the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm and the Lensbaby optic swap system. 

On Sunday my class is "The Art of Flower Photography"

This presentation will explore how to create flower images with impact and emotion. We will discuss the concept of learning to see flowers differently, to find the beauty in the small, often unnoticed details - the patterns, textures and unique personality each flower presents. We will explore the importance of good light, compositional ideas and how to deal with difficult backgrounds. Most importantly we’ll look at aperture to create both selective focus images as well as sharply focused images, helping you to create your own unique style of seeing and capturing flowers. Learn to see beyond the obvious, to develop the ability to see and photograph flowers more artistically.

For more info about our fantastic weekend full of fun, please visit Hope to see you all there!


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago, photography conference, flower photography, Chicago Botanic Garden, Anne Belmont, Lensbaby Thu, 26 Jan 2017 03:45:21 GMT
Macro Photo Conference, October 2017 in Cleveland Pretty in Pink RosePretty in Pink I am honored to be one of seven speakers at Mike Moats fourth annual Macro Photo Conference. This year it is being held in Cleveland in October, 2017. I will be presenting alongside some great photographers, including Mike Moats, Charles Needle, John Gerlack, Jamie Konarski Davidson and Varina Patel. My program: "The Art of Flower Photography in a Botanical Garden." Here's what Mike writes about the conference:

Macro Photo Conference 2017

by Mike Moats

Fourth Annual Macro Photo Conference 2017

This is a unique annual photo conference dedicated to macro photography. I’ve always wanted to design a program where professional photographers could come together and teach their skills in macro photography and post processing techniques to those who want to learn, and advance their macro photography to the next level.

This Macro Photo Conference will have plenty of how-to lectures and five hours of photographing with varying subject matter. The speakers will be available to help participants with composing subjects and technical aspects. So you need to bring your camera, macro lens, and tripod.
Speakers will have their books available, and will be happy to sign them for you.
Leading New England photo retailer Hunt’s Photo will be there selling lots of photo products. Tamron will have a tech rep on hand with lenses available for you to try out.
There will be a limit of 100 participants, and it should sell out quick. Last year we had participants from 23 different states.
Crowne Plaza – 7230 Engle Road, Middleburg Heights, Ohio 44130
(near Cleveland)
Hotel Front Desk (440) 243-4040
Dates: October 28th and 29th 2017
Times: Saturday 8:00am to 6pm – Sunday 8:00am – 3pm
Cost: $199

To learn more about the programs and register, go to Mike's website. Hope to see you all in Cleveland!


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Mike Moats, Macro Photography Conference, macro photography, Anne Belmont, Charles Needle, John Gerlach, Jamie Konarski Davidson, Varina Patel, The Art of Flower Photography in a Botanical Garden Wed, 04 Jan 2017 02:36:53 GMT
Out of Chicago Winter Conference - February 18th I don't know about you but it's only December and I'm already experiencing cabin fever. It's been really cold here in Chicago. The Out of Chicago team has been busy organizing our second annual Winter Conference to be held at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. Easy drive, easy parking - warm inside! We have an awesome lineup of presenters. Check out the conference and all our wonderful instructors and classes at

I'll be presenting a program on "Capturing the Beauty of Flowers with Selective Focus and the Creative Magic of Lensbaby Lenses" - "Learn to see beyond the sharply focused image to the magic of seeing and photographing flowers in a whole new artistic way. This class will focus on how to use aperture and selective focus with both traditional macro lenses and creative lenses to create evocative and beautiful portraits of flowers. We will explore a whole new way of looking at flowers, learning to see and isolate beautiful, interesting and often unnoticed details. Learn about the magic of Lensbaby lenses to create beautiful blur and creative effects in photographing flowers. Anne will offer tips and techniques for using the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, The Twist and the Lensbaby optic swap system."

A hands-on component has been added this year and this is going to be so much fun! Each instructor is leading their own session at the shootout. You’ll get a chance to shoot with each one of us during the Winter Shootout. Mine, you might have guessed, will be shooting flowers, and I'll have a variety of Lensbaby lenses there for you to try. Just bring you camera, a tripod and any macro lenses you own. We can practice some of the skills you learn in my class. 

We'll end the evening with an inspirational talk by Mike Moats, followed by a fun social gathering. Join the instructors, attendees and Out of Chicago staff for a post-conference party at Bill’s Pizza, close to the conference center. We did this last year and everyone loved the chance to socialize and share ideas, eat delicious pizza and perhaps a beer or glass of wine! I hope you'll join us for a day of learning and fun!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago Winter Conference, Out of Chicago, photography conference, Anne Belmont, Lensbaby, flower photography Sat, 17 Dec 2016 23:53:33 GMT
Having Fun with Some Indoor Shooting with my Lensbabies I get very restless if I don't shoot flowers and botanical subjects almost every day. During the spring, summer and fall this is no problem. I head to the Chicago Botanic Garden, a mere 15 minutes from my home, and I have endless subjects to keep me happy. In winter it's a bit more challenging to find subjects. The three greenhouses at CBG are a place I often head for shooting tropical flowers, plants and desert succulents indoors. We are also lucky to have two amazing conservatories in the Chicago area - Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory, both are within an hour of my home. Both conservatories have holiday flower shows and wonderful collections of plants and flowers to keep me happy throughout the cold Chicago winter. I also enjoy shooting orchids at various flower shops and orchid production houses in the area. I'll be talking about all these winter shooting opportunities over the next few months. In the Chicago area winter lasts from November through March, so that's a lot of months of indoor shooting.

Often I simply bring flowers home to photograph or enjoy photographing my own orchid collection. Last week I set up a little project of shooting an orchid I brought home on the plane from a Macro Shoot-Out I did with fellow macro photographer Mike Moats at the Out of New York Conference in October. I bought a variety of beautiful flowers from a lovely little flower shop in mid-town Manhattan. It wasn't practical to bring the other flowers home but I was determined to get that sweet orchid home safely because I knew it would continue to bloom for months. I carried it in my bag and it survived the trip in perfect condition. I have it on my kitchen window sill and have enjoyed watching it open fully and evolve. Orchid blooms can last a long time!

I shot the orchid in the natural light of my kitchen using every Lensbaby lens I own. I wanted to compare the results of each of the lenses shot at different apertures. I used a creamy beige-colored background I printed and mounted on a large board, placing it about a foot behind the orchid. I used my tripod, which I generally don't use when shooting with my Lensbabies, but it was actually simpler and more effective this way with my set up and the more limited light indoors. I also wanted to use Live View to zoom in and accurately focus on a part of the orchid. When I teach about using Lensbaby lenses the number one issue people seem to have is getting accurate focus on the part of the flower they want to draw the eye to. The Lensbaby lenses are all manual focus so it can be a bit challenging at first to master the focus. If you are having a problem, get on your tripod and focus through Live View. With practice, you will be get better and be able to focus more effectively off the tripod, especially when you have ample light. The tripod (and believe me, I have a love/hate relationship with tripods) really does help you slow down, compose carefully and get more keepers.

Here a few of the results of that shoot:

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Twist optic, 8 mm macro converter, f/2.8. Notice the sweet spot of focus is on the center orchid and the resulting beautiful twisty blur around the edges. The blurred effect of this lens is even more pronounced when working further back. It's a sharp lens in that sweet spot!

Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic, 8 mm macro converter, f/5.6. Notice how much more is in focus at that aperture. If you want blur, stay in those lower apertures. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids

Nice and close with the Velvet 56mm, f/4, (the Velvet focuses within 5 inches of your subject). f/4 gives me the focus I want but maintains that beautiful ethereal blur in the background. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids

Composer Pro with Soft Focus Optic, 16mm macro converter, f/4. The soft focus optic is no longer available for sale but I found this one on ebay. Love the softness of this optic! Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Velvet 56mm, f/2 - just a hint of focus on the middle flower and that characteristic dreamy blur. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids These are just a brief sampling of the 100+ images I experimented with. An afternoon with one orchid plant, all my Lensbabies = lots of fun and creative experimentation. Challenge yourself with a simple project to help you grow. This is what keeps photography fun! I'll be teaching a class about selective focus and the magic of Lensbaby lenses at the Out of Chicago Winter Conference, February 18th, and we will have hands-on time to play with a variety of Lensbabies the people at Lensbaby are providing for us. Maybe I'll bring this orchid, along with a lot of other beautiful flowers to shoot. Registration is already open to email subscribers to and will open to the public in a few days. Watch here for more information! The folks at Lensbaby approached me this summer about partnering with them to spread the word about these wonderful, fun and creative lenses and, of course, I said YES!!! 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Orchid photography, Lensbaby, Lensbaby Velvet, Lensbaby Composer Pro, Sweet 50 Optic, Twist Optic, Soft Focus Optic, macro converters, Out of Chicago, flower photography Sat, 10 Dec 2016 03:41:51 GMT