5 Tips for Taking GREAT Flower Photographs
Many of you may not be surprised to hear that flowers are my favorite thing to photograph. From spring to fall, I’m always in search of different flowers. I have speculated in past posts that my love for flowers may have come from the fact that I grew up surrounded by my parent's and grandparent’s gardens. One of the things I have come to love about flowers is that they are beautiful on so many different levels: in a garden with other flowers, on their own, and up close. For me, it’s almost like a whole other dimension when you look at a flower up close. All the details of the petals, the stamen (middle of the flower), any critters hanging out, just amaze me. Throw in some dew or raindrops and I’m in heaven.
I always love this time of year for gardens because during a normal year, the flowers and plants really start to grow and fill in. I thought that this would be a perfect time to write a post with my top five tips on how to take great flower photos.
I’m going to assume with this post that you are familiar with using your camera and I'm not spend a lot of time on that aspect. If you are looking for help with certain topics, I will link my other blog posts explaining said topics for you. And as always, if you still have questions, feel free to contact me!
So, without further ado, here we go!
5 Tips for Taking Great Flower Photos
1. GET CLOSE
Remember what I said about the awesome details a flower has? You can’t begin to explore them unless you’re a foot or less away from your flower subject. I can’t stress this enough. GET CLOSE. And, when you think you’re close enough, get closer.
2. Play around with different angles & focal points
Lay on the ground and look up. Shoot from the side. Play around with different angles. You never know what you’ll come up with and what will catch your eye. Look for your light source (most likely the sun) and try positioning yourself to see if you can catch the light in the flower or the petals.
Try focusing only on the stamen, one petal, the bottom of the flower, the middle, the side, etc. I’ve found some really great shots by doing this. Don’t be afraid to try out new things!
3. Change up the time of day/weather
I admit I find that I stick with mid-day sun pictures. Not purposefully, but I love how the light brightens up a flower. However, I’ve started to try and branch out with some other times of day, such as sunset. I have found that the golden light of sunrise/sunset (also known as the golden hour) makes the flower look so rich. I also love how the light catches the petals and makes the flower look like it’s glowing.
I also have gone out before during a light rain, or RIGHT after a rain. I have caught some beautiful photos this way.
Play around with different times of the day to see what you like best. Or even better, take pictures of the same flower at different times of the day to experiment with what time you like best so you can compare and contrast.
4. Check your camera settings
ISO: Assuming it’s sunny or cloudy, change your ISO settings to 100-200. If you’re shooting at sunrise or sunset, you can try going up to 400, but make sure you check the pictures to make sure it’s not grainy.
Depth of field: For 95% of my flower pictures, I choose a shallow depth of field, meaning the background is blurry. This ensures that the focus is exactly where I want it to be (the stamen, the petals, a raindrop, etc), so the viewer’s eye goes there immediately and there is nothing else competing in the picture.
When trying to choose your optimal depth of field, remember that the f-stop is measured in fractions of f/(insert number here). It also controls how much light is let into the picture. The lower the number (f/2, for example) equals a shallow depth of field and more light being let in. I think of it as if I had two inches of water, I would be in shallow water. A shallow depth of field means the background will be very blurry. I remember it as the camera is taking a ‘shallow picture’ by only capturing detail (focusing on) of certain parts.
The higher you go in f-stops, the ‘deeper’ in focus your picture will be, like an f/32 for example. This means more of your photo will be in focus. A higher f-stop also means less light is being let in.
If you shoot in ‘macro’ mode on your camera (usually designated by a flower icon), the camera will automatically choose an appropriate f-stop for the light conditions you are in to achieve a blurred background.
If your camera has ‘Aperture’ mode, this will do the same thing as ‘macro’ mode.
Shutter speed: Usually I don’t focus on my shutter speed to much other than to properly expose my picture when taking pictures of flowers. That being said, sometimes it is helpful to choose a faster shutter speed if you’re worried about the flower moving. I sometimes will do this if it’s really windy.
Again, if you’re shooting in macro or aperture mode the camera will automatically select a shutter speed for you.
There are certain tools you can use to help you better photograph a flower. I don’t use these all of the time, but have found that they come in handy from time to time.
-Tripod: A tripod can be great in low light situations, such as in a forest or at sunset, to help reduce potential shake. You can buy any different types on Amazon.
-Reflector: A reflector is a tool that can be helpful with, well, reflecting light. It can be as simple as a piece of white tag board, tin foil wrapped around cardboard, or one that you can buy. A reflector is helpful when you’re in low light conditions. You can buy them on Amazon, or Pinterest has a lot of homemade ideas.
-External light (ring flash): This is another tool that can be used in low light situations when photographing flowers. The particular external light I have is a disc ring that attaches to my lens. It then lights up and acts as an extra light source. I don’t use this often, but always have it along when I’m photographing flowers, especially in the woods.
This week’s takeaway:
-Get close to your subject (the flower)
-Play around with different angels and focal points
-Practice shooting in different weather conditions and time of day
-Make sure your camera settings are set correctly
-There are certain tools you can use to help further take a great picture
What tips would you add? What is your favorite flower to photograph?
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