I'm Kathleen Clemons, Ask Me Anything!

I too would just like to give a shout out to Kathleen for giving us the opportunity to come together and ask questions and learn. I have taken several classes of Kathleen’s online. After watching the first class online I was hooked, and now cannot get enough of macro and flower photography. You continue to inspire me and I am so thankful for all you have taught me.


Thank you so much, Barb! Your work just keeps getting better and better!

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Earlier you mentioned that you recommended the Velvet 85 for full frame. I currently have the Velvet 56 and I love it, but curious would it be beneficial for me to get the Velvet 85 since all my cameras are full frame?

I use both with my full frame cameras, Barb. Here is a blog post I did comparing the two lenses which you may find helpful.

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Okay, Kathleen, I have my Composer Pro Sweet 50 back on my Olympus. It’s been a while as I find this lens a difficult one to work with. I just tried it without a macro filter and found the camera to flower distance too much, but with the +4 macro filter on it that changed. I still don’t think I’m getting anything sharp in the photo, but will continue to try. I do use the Sol 22 and the Velvet 56 often. The Velvet 85 is too much for the Olympus I think.
Thanks for the inspiration to try!

I use a +4 macro diopter with that optic often. Start with f/4 or f/5.6 so that the sweet spot of focus will be easier to see. Start with the lens centered, no bending (that makes focusing harder). Shoot with that set up until you start to get some consistency in sharp focus, then start bending the optic slightly off center, a small bend goes a long way.

Kathleen, thank you. I will do that. I did have it bent quite a bit.

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Hi Kathleen
How do you choose subjects and process your monochrome textures? Thanks !

Hi Kathy,
I choose subjects by what catches my eye. I am always attracted to flowers with strong curves, and features that make them stand out from their “peers”. I love errant petals with a mind of their own, something that makes the flower different.

How do I process my monochrome textures? Do you mean the black and white conversion? I generally use Nik Filters for my conversions.

Thank you!
I am particularly interested in how you find the subjects for your monochrome textures??

I find them on walks, usually, everywhere from city streets to walking around the yard, beaches, woods… textures are everywhere!

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Hi Kathleen, Your flower images are just beautiful. I love flowers and photographing them, I’ve been capturing them more over the past eight years.

My problem and question is the amount of light where parts of the flower are over exposed so I end up deleting many of the images. The area I live in where I photograph flowers has little shade from the very old 50-100 foot Ponderosa pine trees. I currently have a Nikon D3400 with a 18=55mm kit lens. Can you tell me the best position, time, f-stop and ISO you choose to capture such lovely images? Thanks in advance for your time and advice.


Sounds like it’s not really info on camera data you need, it’s lighting advice, Laura. I shoot with soft lighting! Cloudy or drizzly days are my favorite, but on bright days I use a 12 inch diffuser to soften the light. I attach it to my tripod with a Wimberley Plamp, and can shoot all day, no matter what the lighting is like. Don’t rely on shade, bring a diffuser and make your own clouds. :slight_smile:


Hi Kathleen,
It seems like you use Lensbaby lenses more than anything, including your 105 macro lens. Your images with the different Lensbaby lenses are really stunning. I don’t have a macro and use extension tubes on my regular lenses. I’ve been thinking of getting a macro, but also Lensbaby is looking appealing for flowers.

  1. Do you think extension tubes are a weak substitute for having a true macro lens?
  2. Why would you choose to use a Lensbaby for a particular shot instead of a true macro lens?

Hi Mark,
I don’t own a 105mm, I prefer the compression and background bokeh a 180mm provides instead. If I am not using a Lensbaby (usually only when I am restricted from getting close to my subject or I want to shoot through foreground foliage) I use the 180mm. Lensbaby lenses let me capture flowers the way that I see them.

No, extension tubes are great and I do recommend them for my students who want to get closer but do not own macro lenses, especially if they are just starting out.

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Hi Kathleen,
When I photograph flowers I am focusing on the single flower with others all around it in a botanical garden lets say. What I am not sure is should I set the DOF so only part if the flower is sharpest or is it best to get the entire flower in focus. Most of the time they are not face on but at a angle and I am using a 180 macro or a telephoto lens. I am blurring the foreground and background flowers. I provide shade if it is not there. I have taken the CL class as well and your photography is beautiful.

Hi Dean,
Thank you!
It really depends on the story you want to tell. Is it the whole flower that you want to highlight because of it’s shape, color or texture? Or is it a particular portion of the flower you want to draw the eye to? Try really looking at your subject and working it from different angles, points of view, distances and apertures to capture what you see.

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Hi Kathleen, I love flower photography and your classes so much. Due to cost constraints I could only afford the lensbaby sol 45 with the macro filter kit advertised by Gather Academy but I haven’t seen you mention using that particular lens much. Can you give me any tips on shooting flowers with it? I have a hard time getting a sharp focus with it. Ive been using it mostly indoors in natural light. My camera is a crop sensor. Thanks for any advice.

Your work is sooo inspiring. I recently saw your cell phone pics and was blown away! I think you’ve reached a new level of amazingness! What cell phone are you using and what (if any) edits/filters?

Hi Donna,
Thank you! I do love the Sol 45! The fixed aperture of f/3.5 can be a little limiting, but the blur is fabulous. Here is a blog post I did about the Sol when it was released which might help. Lensbaby Sol