Flowers provide endless photographic opportunities; they are beautiful, colourful, intensely detailed, and attract a variety of insects. Not only is each flower unique, but a simple adjustment made to the focus or angle of your photograph can create an entirely different image. No matter where you are—in your backyard garden, at your local green space, or deep in heart of a rainforest—these tips will help you master flower photography and capture the perfect shot.
Photographing flowers takes on a whole new level when you have a macro lens. This lens allows you to capture amazingly detailed close-ups; the dew drops on each petal, the bug on the stem, and even the pollen in the centre of the flower. You’ll be surprised at the intricacy of new flower. Instead of having many flowers in your photograph, your image will focus in on one aspect of the flower, isolating your subject, blurring the background, and creating something entirely new. When using a macro lens, be sure to consider depth-of-field and lighting, which can alter greatly when your lens is up close and personal with your subject.
Use a tripod
If you want to make sure your image is crisp and clear, your best bet is to use a tripod. Not only can your tripod stay still better than you—which means it won’t be blurry—it also allows you to capture multiple shots of the same frame, giving you the chance to experiment with shutter speed, lighting, focus, and subtle changes of perspective. The sturdier the better when it comes to tripods, and if you want the ability to shoot flowers close up, make sure you are using a tripod with legs that will splay out and allow you to get down low. The best way to ensure that your image will be perfectly focused is to set up your tripod and aim your camera just how you want it and then set the timer to take the photograph two seconds later, ensuring the camera is completely still when it takes the photo.
Get some perspective
It can be easy to fall into a photographic rut; always taking pictures from the same point of view. However, some of the best and most creative shots happen when you think outside the box a little. Try varying your levels for new and interesting perspectives. If your flowers are on the ground, you should also get down low. Lying flat in front of the flowers, squatting, or perching on a stool, can help you find new inspiration for each flower. Get creative with your angles as well, try capturing the flower from below, above, side to side, close up and from afar. Each angle will give you a completely different photograph, and will help lead you to the perfect shot.
When you’re shooting outside, keeping a flower still can be one of the greatest challenges. Even on calm days, flowers will be gently swaying, making it hard to focus and capture clear images. Try blocking the wind using an umbrella, a small piece of cardboard, or if your space is larger you could try hanging a sheet or using a piece of plywood. If the flower still can’t keep still, it could be useful to purchase or build some plant clamps, or plamps, that will attach your flower to the ground (or anything nearby that doesn’t move, such as your tripod) without crushing the stem and help keep it from moving. The moveable wire on the plamp also allows you to slightly adjust the position of the flower when you are creating your composition.
While nature can provide amazing photo opportunities all by itself, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to give things a little push. Bringing props can help you get the shot you’re looking for, and will help you have more control over your environment. If you want to show drops of water on your flowers, but it hasn’t been raining (or you don’t want to sludge around in the mud), bring you’re a spray bottle and finely mist the flowers until you have the desired effect. It can also be useful to bring large sheets of paper or fabric to use in the background as a contrasting colour. If you are photographing bright pink flowers, you can enhance their hue by creating a dark green background. It will help isolate the subject, and can create a green space behind the flower, even if there isn’t one. You can also bring extra sources of light and reflectors, to provide optimum levels and angles of light.
Sometimes the best images are captured when you switch off auto-control and put your camera in manual mode. You are the photographer, so giving yourself the power means giving yourself more options to create. You can choose any shutter and aperture combination you want, checking your histrograms to make sure bright colours aren’t being underexposed. Manual mode also gives you more control over focus, which can be the most important aspect of flower photography. Varying your levels of focus, on the flower and the background, and playing around with the exact spot of focus will give you more options and allow you to create all sorts of images, from abstract to crystal clear.
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