Photographing Flowers: Basics © Wendy Folse Apr 23, 2001 Spring is in the air and no other time of year inspires more people to pick up their cameras and head outdoors. As nature begins to spread its marvelous palette of colors across the land, it is time to brush up on some basic tips to turn your garden photos into masterpieces. Remember the hints given in previous articles. Get in close and fill the frame with the subject.
Subject What are you trying to show? Your garden, a particular flower, a vista, or maybe color, shape, or form. Whatever your subject is, make sure that you concentrate on composition and framing in order to capture the subject.
Mood or Theme What mood or theme are you looking for? The mood and theme will help determine which techniques will work best. For example, if you are trying to capture a botanical type print of a variety of rose then you will want to insure accuracy. This will require a greater depth of field and absolute sharpness throughout. • Botanical Print‐accuracy • Blossom‐Impressionistic • Plant‐‐Shape and form • Landscape‐‐design, color, layout • Patterns in Nature
The copyright of the article Photographing Flowers: Basics in Photography is owned by Wendy Folse. Permission to republish Photographing Flowers: Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. Page 1
Motion will blur pictures Use a tripod Steady is the word. If you don't have a tripod handy brace yourself , lock your elbows and keep them close to your body. This will help to eliminate blurry images. It is very difficult to photograph single blossoms waving in the breeze. Do no harm‐ do not break blossoms or trample plants in the process. Instead, carry small sticks and twist ties to help isolate and steady the stems. Or better yet, wait until the wind dies down. Plan your shots carefully Limit the depth of field and use a large aperture, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, in order to eliminate distracting backgrounds. Decide which part of the flower you want to be sharp. Selective focus is the key here. Let whatever is not important go blurry. Blurring the background will put greater emphasis on the flower. Point & Shoot Cameras Manual Override If your camera has the option of manual override, experiment with it and learn how to use it. Most flower photos require the use of special considerations that you just cannot get with complete auto modes. Experimentation is the best teacher. Program Settings Many of the new automatic slrs on the market have a close‐up program setting that is great for this type of work. Some programs are even designated with a flower icon. Time of Day Early morning Best time of day to shoot
Dew on the flowers drastically adds to the image
Colors are saturated and the contrast is reduced
No harsh shadows to distract from the flowers.
Bright Sun Not recommended for several reasons. One is that it will require you to use a much smaller aperture thereby increasing depth of field. In photographing flowers it is desirable to eliminate as much of the background as possible in order to isolate the flower. Another reason is that it causes harsh shadows and washes out the colors of the flowers. The copyright of the article Photographing Flowers: Basics in Photography is owned by Wendy Folse. Permission to republish Photographing Flowers: Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. Page 2
Overcast Day Colors will be brighter. No heavy shadows to ruin your picture. Less light allows the use of larger f‐stops. Most professional photographers choose to shoot on a cloudy or overcast day whenever possible. Tips & Tricks Aluminum Foil Carry a piece of foil with you to use as a reflector. The sheet should be about the size of a sheet of paper. Fold it up into a square and tuck it into your camera bag. Use it to reflect light onto the blossom or plant to create highlights, or get rid of shadows. Water Bottle Carry a small spray bottle with you and use it to mist the blossom or plant. This adds an attractive quality to the image. Consider the light. The droplets will sparkle and glow depending on the direction of the light. Move around and observe the effect from different angles then choose the best from which to shoot. Black Card Use a piece of heavy, dark colored construction paper to create a simple backdrop. First, meter the scene without the black card in the picture. Then add the card and shoot with the metered setting. The reason for this is that if you meter the black card, the meter will set the camera in order to make the black card appear 18% gray, which is not what you want. You want the flowers to be bold and vivid and the card to remain black. All photos are copyrighted and owned by Wendy L. Folse. The copyright of the article Photographing Flowers: Basics in Photography is owned by Wendy Folse. Permission to republish Photographing Flowers: Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. Page 3
The copyright of the article Photographing Flowers: Basics in Photography is owned by Wendy Folse. Permission to republish Photographing Flowers: Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. Page 4