How To Photograph Flowers
Spring is undoubtedly the best time to get started photographing flowers. There’s beauty everywhere you look at this time of year, and this guide will hopefully give you some tips for photographing it.
Some places you can start off looking at are your local park, nature reserves or botanic gardens. Flowers are protected and looked after in these areas, so you can guarantee there will be some there. You may find it useful to invest in a reference book so you can look up which areas flowers are likely to be found in, and also what time of year they flower in.
Taking The Photo
Once you’ve decided on the flower to photograph, you need to find the perfect flower, so avoid ones which have withered flowers or have chunks eaten off them. You then need to decide on the angle you want to take the photo at, first try taking a picture of the whole scene with your flowers included, then you may want to get in closer and take a photo of a single flower. Try photographing just the flowers, the flowers and stem, and getting in closer to isolate different parts of the flower. Insects on the flowers can make the photo more interesting, so look out for these details.
There’s a lot of different gear you can use for this, depending on what type of photo you want to achieve. A wide angle lens may come in use to get a photo of the whole scene, a telephoto lens to get photos of individual flowers, and a macro lens for smaller details. A tripod is a must when using some of these lenses, to avoid blur. Finally a flashgun and diffuser is a good addition on days where you need more light.
Composing The Scene
Sometimes you may need to make small changes to the flowers themselves to make them suitable for a photo. You might need to move some flowers in the background out of the way or trim them, although this isn’t legal to do in some locations. There might be cobwebs or threads on the plants that you need to get off, so a brush or cloth is useful for this. Also you may want to move the flowers around into different positions if there’s more than one flower on your plant.
Photographing flowers can be done in any lighting conditions, but an overcast day is good because the flowers should appear more saturated and soft. If the light is too harsh or the flower is too dark in places, you can use a flashgun with a diffuser to soften the light and fill in any dark areas. If the lighting isn’t very interesting, another technique you can try is placing a torch behind the flowers or pointing at it from different angles for a nice backlit effect.
Getting In Closer
To capture some of the smaller details on the plant, you will probably need to use a macro lens. Start a fair distance away from your flower and move in closer until the lens can no longer focus on the flower, and this will give you an idea of the minimum focus distance of your lens. To keep the background uncluttered and out of focus, you don’t want any other flowers close by in the shot, a few metres between the flower and background is best for this. There is no best aperture for taking macro shots, smaller f numbers such as f/2.8 will show less detail than a much higher one like f/16, but shutter speed will suffer at the higher f number, which could be a problem if the plants are moving in the wind.
A Few Tips
- Flower photos with small drops of dew on always look good, but if there’s none on your flowers, take a bottle of water with you and sprinkle it on the flowers for the same effect.
- Flowers are almost always moving in the wind, so a wind break will come in use to stop your photos from blurring, you could use an umbrella, some cardboard, or a diffuser.
- To reduce image blur even more, use a tripod and remote shutter release so you don’t risk touching the camera and making it shake while you press the shutter. Or another alternative to a remote shutter is setting a timer.
- Try using manual focus, this is a good idea because when you press down the shutter button the camera may refocus, potentially ruining the shot, and also manually you have more control over what’s in focus.
- If you don’t like the background behind your flower, you could try using your own backdrop, such as putting some white card behind the flower.
- A withered flower is not always a bad subject, in some cases they can make a very interesting photo.