Tropical flowers and foliage in Cuba

While on a recent holiday in Cuba I had the opportunity to capture some images of tropical flowers and foliage. I find that the grounds of a resort are often great places for this type of photography for a couple of reasons.

The first is the usually plentiful array of tropical flowers and plants, and the second is the presence of large expanses of grassy areas that can serve as excellent, monochromatic backgrounds in images.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-800

My wife always prefers me to capture images of whole flowers or plants and I dutifully oblige as she is an avid gardener.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 94mm, efov 252mm, f/8, -0.7 step, 1/125, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 94mm, efov 252mm, f/8, -0.7 step, 1/125, ISO-160

I shoot with Nikon 1 gear which uses a smaller 1″ CX sensor and my preferred lens for flower photography is the 1 Nikon 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 VR zoom. I find that shooting with a longer telephoto zoom helps to achieve image separation.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-800

The 30-110 mm is also my favourite 1 Nikon lens to use with extension tubes to capture macro-type images.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, -0.7 step, 1/1000, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, -0.7 step, 1/1000, ISO-160

From time to time I also use the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR zoom for flower photography. The longer focal length of this lens can be helpful to frame individual flower subjects that are in unusual positions.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 97mm, efov 262mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 97mm, efov 262mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-800

Like most people who photograph flowers I prefer to find subjects that are in at least partial shade and I often avoid shooting under the strong sun of midday.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1250

My favourite times to photograph flowers are in the early morning, especially when dew is present, and also just before the sun sets when colours can be quite vibrant.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-800

Photographing during overcast days is also one of my favourite times. Since we were treated to seven consecutive days of cloud-free skies during our trip to Cuba I had to rely on the shade provided by some of the buildings and trees for many of my flower images.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/250, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/250, ISO-160

Much of the time I specifically look for interesting light rather than concentrating on specific plants or flowers, as seen in the image above.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-280
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-280

High contrast lighting can be a challenge when shooting with a small sensor camera but the results can often be pleasing.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800

On occasion I like to shoot with my camera on an angle to help accentuate strong lines in an image, and create corner exits.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/80, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/80, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 97mm, efov 262mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/200, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 97mm, efov 262mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/200, ISO-800

While macro-type images of flowers are not my wife’s favourites, I quite enjoy this creative challenge and will typically spend more than half of my time shooting flowers and foliage with extension tubes.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/125, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/125, ISO-160

Recently I’ve become less hesitant to shoot my Nikon 1 gear at f/8, choosing more depth-of-field over the risk of some image softening from diffraction.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800

I have to remind myself to remain conscious of wind conditions and adjust my shutter speeds accordingly.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, -0.7 step, 1/640, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, efov 297mm, f/8, -0.7 step, 1/640, ISO-160

While I usually try to avoid busy backgrounds in my flower images sometimes a blossom just compels me to capture it.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 132mm, efov 357mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 132mm, efov 357mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-400

Like most folks I do crop images when necessary to remove visual clutter as best I can.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 175mm, efov 473mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-640
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 175mm, efov 473mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-640

Complex plants can often yield very interesting images if we take the time to find a composition that appeals to us.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 74mm, efov 200mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-2200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 74mm, efov 200mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-2200

While I did not always enjoy flower photography in the past, it is now something that I quite enjoy. I find it both relaxing and a great creative adventure.

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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.

5 thoughts on “Tropical flowers and foliage in Cuba”

    1. Hi Ian,
      Glad you’ve been enjoying the latest series of articles with images captured in Cuba! Like many destinations there is a wide range of photo opportunities. Street photographers would also find a lot of interesting scenes and historical buildings.
      Tom

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