Flower Photography: What To Know & How To Nail It
An everyday example of macro photography that you will likely attempt at some point is flower photography. It could have been a trip to the park, a fresh bouquet received by a loved one, an old rose petal you still use as a bookmark, or even the sunflower that you patiently wait to grow in your home garden.
Elevating something beautiful into an image that makes a viewer stop and stare takes real talent. From spray bottles and umbrellas to the depth of field, we compiled a few tips for you to create stunning flower photography. Let’s check it out.
Keep the subject isolated
It’s something quite basic, but you should not overlook this. Too much clutter will make you lose your subject, and the photo might not work. Compose the image in a way that keeps the flower in the predominant focus by avoiding things that will be distracting.
Remember that distractions come in many forms, such as having too much of the image in focus, uncomplimentary patterns or colors, or areas of the image that are too bright (hot spots). All these might cause the viewer’s eyes to wander and lose interest in the picture.
Location isn’t everything
You don’t need to travel to some exotic place to take beautiful pictures of flowers. One of the best things about flower photography is that you don’t even have to leave home. The flower garden in your backyard might be an excellent place to start, or possibly the park down the street.
Alternatively, you may also collaborate with local macro photographers and curate photography expeditions. It’s a highly popular way to sharpen your skills and learn things about the craft that no book or tutorial can teach you.
Keep it steady
A tripod may not always be necessary, but if you shoot macro or close-up images or try focus stacking techniques, you will need to mount the camera and lens on a very steady base. When creating these types of shots, you will likely be near the minimum focus distance of your lens, zoomed in close, and have a very thin depth of field.
Hand-holding the camera may work, but even in good lighting conditions, you could end up with a lot of blurry photos due to camera shake. Using a tripod will help you set up the best compositions for the shot. Also, using a wired cable shutter release or wireless trigger will prevent camera movement and vibration. You can also use your camera’s self-timer mode to accomplish the same.
Block the wind
Even the slightest amount of breeze can make shooting flowers a real challenge. It’s always ideal to have something with you that you could use to block the wind to keep the flowers from moving around while you are shooting. Using a diffuser, reflector, or even an umbrella could help you take breathtaking, still images of the flowers.
Flowers can be tricky subjects to shoot. With their wide variety of sizes, shapes, and shadows, it’s essential to get your camera settings just right to capture every little detail. Use a low ISO between 100 and 200 to maintain a sharp picture. I
f your ISO gets too high, it could make the image grainy. If you’re shooting with a handheld camera outside on a windy day, use a fast shutter speed of around 1/125 or higher to reduce blur from camera shake. If you’re using a tripod with a still subject, shutter speed isn’t an important consideration. Check how the photo looks, and if it’s too dark or too bright, use the exposure compensation dial to make the image brighter or darker.
The correct aperture setting depends on your subject and preferences. A wide aperture between f/1.8 and f/7 will give you a shallow depth of field with lots of background blur for small subjects. Narrow apertures of around f/11 or higher are best for large subjects like bouquets and oversized flowers when you want the entire subject in focus. Since the aperture is the most crucial camera setting for flower photography, most photographers shoot flowers in aperture priority mode. This way, you can quickly adjust the aperture to find the perfect depth of field without worrying about ISO or shutter speed.
It is possible to get good images of flowers using any lens, macro or non-macro, wide-angle, or telephoto. On the other hand, the higher your lens’ magnification capabilities, the more intimate and detailed your images will look. You can also experiment with more abstract photography techniques.
Generally, a dedicated macro lens for flower photography is best. Such a lens usually offers life-size magnification, pin-sharp images, and excellent bokeh.
Choosing the correct light is extremely important here. Since flower photography is a diverse and experimental art form, you can use different and more varied light sources when photographing flowers. Natural light is always a great option, but it’s fun to experiment with artificial light as well.
Backlight is an excellent choice for flower photography. When the sun is directly in front of you, it will light the flower from behind and make the translucent petals of the flower glow. Using the light just after sunrise allows you to also catch early morning dew on the flowers as there’s less wind at that time.
Move around to get the best angle
When shooting macro, play with angles to minimize background distractions and make the main subject shine. Move your body around the subject and shoot from the top, the side, and underneath to find the magic angle.
When shooting indoors, arrange for some simple equipment to move the flowers easily. To show the perspective of flowers towering over the viewer, place the camera toward the ground and shoot upward. This will make them appear super tall against a blue sky.
Flowers can be fascinating subjects, and some are so intricately detailed that you will want to shoot as close as possible. It’s easier to create dramatic flower images with larger blooms that can fill a frame.
Choose the most exciting aspect of the flower, like the curve of a petal, how the petals join into the calyx, or the crown of stamens, and use selective focus to highlight that detail. To add dimension, sprinkle some water on the flowers. And adding a bright backlight would make up for beautiful, sparkly bokeh.
Post-production becomes a crucial step to do justice to the subjects here. You can do interesting editorial adjustments to the colors of your image using vibrance and saturation sliders. You can use a clarity slider to give the flowers either a softer or a more complex look. This slider affects the contrast of the mid-tones.
The human eye has a natural tendency to look at the lighter parts of an image first. For that reason, making your flower look lighter will make it more eye-catching. To do so, you can either increase the exposure of your flower or make the background darker.
Get that perfect flower shot!
It takes a good eye and patience to strike a balance between the right composition and technique for flower photography. These subjects can be extraordinary to shoot given their wide variety and abundant natural beauty. Assessing the conditions and employing appropriate tools and techniques can help capture the real essence of a flower. Remember to bring out their vibrant colors, sway with their movements, and don’t forget to have fun!