If you’re just starting out with your camera, flower photography is one of the best places to start. Capturing beautiful floral images are a perfect way to learn about your camera settings without feeling pressured.
Here are 10 wonderful tips to create stress-free floral photographs.
It’s ideal to wait for a cloudy day to get your floral photos.
Harsh sunlight will add heavy shadows and disguise the beautiful detail in those petals. Instead shoot on an overcast day with soft light to get a 3D effect with texture.
Tip – If you’re time is limited though and you’ve only got sunny days to shoot on then consider placing a bedsheet in the path of the light to diffuse the intensity.
Image: Flower under hard light
Image: Flower under soft light
To complement soft lighting reduce the depth of field by opening your aperture to f/4 or wider.
This reduced area of focus will blur the edges of the shot and focus attention on the centre of the shot. Aim to make sure the centre of your flower is in the centre of your focus area. Attention will always be drawn towards the middle of a symmetrical object.
It will also eliminate any background distracts if you can’t get any closer.
Following on from tip 1, if you are stuck with harsh sunlight and no alternatives, then use a white reflector on the opposite side of your flowers. This will at least bounce light back into the shadow area and act as fill light to stop dark areas appearing in your shots.
Use a sheet of white card or polystyrene as cheaper options. The closer you hold the card to the flower the stronger the fill reflection should be
Shooting outdoors you’ll always be fighting the elements. To limit the movement of your flowers, block the path of any wind to keep your shots free from motion blur. You could use a reflector again, providing it doesn’t block or affect the light in any way. It’s amazing how useful reflectors are when it comes to flower photography!
Shooting indoors would be the best alternative. If you don’t have access to a ‘bloomingly’ wonderful garden then why not get down the local florists and pick up a few cheap bunches to practise on indoors?
Mix up your creativity and look for different points of view. Overhead floral shots can be pretty, but if we’re honest, they’re expected and overdone.
Instead try minimalist crops, half crops, abstract views and even upside down!
If you want your images to stand out amongst a gallery of photos you need to make them unique at a thumbnail size.
Shallow depth of field is normally structured, so the foreground is sharp, and background is out of focus. But there are creative opportunities to make your foreground blurry instead.
Try bringing other flowers into the fore of your shot to create a frame to shoot through, creating a voyeuristic perspective. Focus on one main flower and let the wide aperture blur everything else around it.
Most flowers blossom one colour, with different tones/shades. But if you want to feature several plants then try to balance out your choices using complementing colours.
Oranges work with blues; reds sit nicely with greens and yellows tend to look cute alongside purples.
Adding more than 3 strong colours in your flower photography can make it look busy unless those colours are all contained in individual areas – think of a tulip farmer’s field.
To get the best quality finish to your flower photographs getting up close is always the best approach.
If you’re just starting out, look for the macro icon (a little flower) on your camera modes to activate your close-up function. This will automatically reduce the DoF and create a small spot focus area – perfect for flowers.
Alternatively, if you are able and willing then invest in a dedicated macro lens.
Make sure you pick up a macro lens that offers 1:1 magnification. This means the flower will look the same proportion through the lens. Macro lenses are available in different focal lengths – around 100mm would be fantastic for flower photography.
If you’re comparing macro lenses, amongst other things, look for which lens offers the best minimum focus distance. The closer the better.
If you want to add an environmental atmosphere to your flowers, then give your flowers a blast of cold water.
Look for the droplets of water forming on the petals and dripping off the tips for a rain-soaked look. This is a great way of hydrating the flowers in the summer months as well as grabbing some texture-heavy images.
Alongside this, using a macro lens to capture incredible water drops close up are great side shots to your flower photography project.
It’s natural to assume flowers should always be shot in colour, and you’re probably right 99% of the time.
But don’t dismiss the power and opportunity to create a different message in monochrome.
Desaturating colour replaces the energy with emotion and atmosphere. It may not work all the time but dropping your shots into B&W may create a totally different story than the one you were planning on.
There’s not just one way to make a photo B&W though. In Photoshop and Lightroom, look at the presets on offer and continue to make further adjustments using the colour channels (under the HSL slider in Lightroom) to improve the B&W tones further.
We’d love to see your flower photographs and how these tips have inspired your creativity.
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