Spring is in the air, and that means it’s time to refresh your memory of the art of flower photography. With all the blooms just around the corner, there will soon be more than enough subject matter to help you warm up from the long winter. If you’ve never photographed flowers, or you just want to get back into it, try out these flower photography tips. You won’t be disappointed.
Be careful. Flowers are delicate
Flowers aren’t quite different from your average photographic subject. They are delicate, and as such, they require a little extra care when you photograph them. Unlike other subjects, you can’t just snap a few photos of flowers in direct midday sunlight. It’s simply too harsh, and it tends to erase any sense of texture you’d get from viewing the image. Better to wait until sunrise, sunset, or an overcast day.
I personally prefer the early morning and twilight hours for photographing flowers. During these hours, the sun is at more of an angle, so you can see the tiny shadows that give a flower its texture. The light also tends to be a lot warmer, creating colors that truly stand out when compared to a bleached midday photo.
What are your options?
Flowers don’t just look good close up. They also make a great addition to a scene. I’ve seen photographers use flowers to frame a scene, add a little bit of class to an everyday object, or to simply add color to an image that would otherwise look drab. I think we all get caught up in the idea that to photograph a flower you need a macro lens, and it just isn’t true. Your garden is your oyster.
For the most part, flowers are a great way to make a good picture more colorful. Don’t limit yourself to what you find out in nature. If you like the flowers in your backyard, bring them inside and use them in another shot.
How to photograph flowers up close
This is where it starts to get a little more challenging. As I said, flowers are fragile and delicate. It doesn’t take much more than the slightest breeze to get them going, and that can make closeup photography an aggravating ordeal. Is there a way around all of this? Yes, but it’s going to require some work on your end. I hope you’re ready.
To start, you’ll need a tripod. The closer you get to your flower, the smaller your depth of field becomes, and tiny things like camera shake and wind will force your image out of focus. The depth of field is the portion of the image that is in focus. If more of your image is in focus, it will appear more sharp throughout. As your depth of field decreases, less of the image will appear focused. Just have a look at the picture of the kids in the field. Notice how it’s perfectly focused on their faces while many of the flowers in the foreground and background are a little blurred. The degree to which they are in or out of focus is the depth of field.
When only a small portion of the flower remains in focus, the slightest breeze or camera movement can move the flower away from the point your camera is focused on. If you don’t use a tripod (at the very least), you might end up with an image that isn’t focused on the most important part of the flower.
As I said, the morning is the best time to take pictures of flowers, and it’s not just because the light is great. There’s also a little bit of dew and no wind. Closeup flower pictures look a lot more interesting when there are insects and water droplets on the flower. If you’re particularly enterprising, you could glue a dead insect somewhere on the flower for effect. I wouldn’t bat an eye at it.
Some photographers go so far as to bring their flowers indoors to control factors like the wind. This make sense when precision matters, but it also introduces a few more challenges. When you’re taking photos indoors, you have to provide studio lighting and a backdrop of some sort. What you choose depends on the color of your flowers. Try to pick a solid complimentary color that doesn’t distract your viewer, and you should achieve a good outcome.
Be careful with those studio lights as well. Never shine them directly on your flowers, or it’ll be just like taking a picture of a flower midday. Always aim the light from the sides, and keep it on a low setting. Because the flowers aren’t blowing in the breeze, and you’ve got a tripod, you can use as slow of a shutter speed as you need. As a final step, use your camera’s self-timer to take the picture. You don’t want your hands to shake the camera.
So it’s time to dust off that camera, get out there, and photograph some flowers for spring. If you have any questions, I’ll be here to help you.