Photographers looking for spectacularly colorful flower gardens late in the summer must travel to Swan Island Dahlias, family owned since 1927 and located twenty miles south of Portland in the town of Canby, Oregon. Forty acres of blooming dahlias are open to the pubic from August 1st through the end of September from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily with free entry and free parking. Photographers wanting to avoid the big crowds during their annual Dahlia Festival held every year the last weekend in August plus the Labor Day Weekend –Saturday, Sunday and Monday, should arrive midweek, before or after the festival. Photographers are welcome, and tripods, too. Visitors must stay on the grassy walkways.
A 105 mm macro is excellent for reaching farther into the clusters of blooming dahlias without getting too close. I usually focus sharply on the dominant point of interest in the scene - like the eyes in a portrait. To achieve the greatest depth-of-field when doing close-up photography, I focus at a point located 1/3 of the distance between the nearest point and the farthest point that I want to be sharply focused. Then I depress my camera’s depth-of-field preview button and close my aperture slowly until everything from the near point to the far point is in focus. When the focus looks sharp, that’s the aperture I use. A depth-of-field preview button on an SLR with an optical viewfinder will give you the image control you need for macro photography.
Photograph America Newsletter issue #124 - The Gardens of Portland, Oregon covers the best places to find close-up photography in the parks and gardens in and around the city of Portland. Fly into Portland, rent a car and follow the directions in the newsletter to the Portland Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Hoyt Arboretum, the Swan Island Dahlia Garden and tips on more great photo spots.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.