The clocks have sprung ahead, and despite losing an hour of sleep, you now have another hour of daylight to spend practicing these tips for taking better flower photos.
Depending on what part of the country you’re in, Spring may already have sprung! Perhaps you’re still enjoying a winter wonderland of snow activities, in which case you might want to review Tips for Taking Winter Photos.
In any case, when you’re ready to capture great shots of colorful springtime blooms, here are a few simple tips and ideas for getting the best results.
Best Camera for Flower Photos
Flowers are one of the simplest subjects to photograph – the beauty is already there, the subject is stationary, and as with most things in nature, a great image can be made straight out of the camera.
In other words, less is more. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is simply for the photographer to recognize it, and capture it with their camera.
No fancy lights, lenses or filters are necessary. And the beauty is, the best camera is the one you have with you.
Best Conditions for Flower Photos
Generally, flowers photograph best when it’s cloudy. The light is diffused, and your flower or flowers will be evenly lit with no harsh contrast-y shadows.
Colors will be richer and textures deeper.
We’ll start with a couple of basic tips for making the best of overcast, cloudy conditions, and then we’ll progress into more advanced techniques and tips for shooting in direct sunlight.
Get Close to the Flower
Physically move in as close to your flower as possible while your camera can still focus on it. Make sure that your flower is not partially shadowed – if so, step back to remove your shadow, or step in to shadow it completely. Ideally your flower will be completely shaded. This is the best situation for working on creative compositions, and capturing detail up close.
Isolate Your Subject
It is not always necessary or desirable to have everything in focus in the frame. There will be times when you want to isolate your subject so that it stands out from the background.
SLR TIP: Shoot from farther away and use the zoom or telephoto to focus on your subject. The wider open your aperture, the narrower your focus.
iPhone Tip: This effect is more challenging with a camera phone. Focus on the exact subject. Look at every corner of the frame and clear away other petals.
Try a Field Blur
This is a useful approach when it is too difficult to isolate one flower – perhaps they are too small or there are too many of them.
SLR Tip: Open up the aperture and set your focus on foreground, background, or mid-range.
iPhone Tip: Take your shot and then experiment with the tilt-shift and/or vignette filters to pull focus on one area and blur the rest.
There are both challenges and advantages to shooting on bright, sunny days. The challenges include color that gets washed-out, sunny spots are over-exposed while shadowy parts are too dark, and images are flat and uninteresting.
Watch carefully that the brightest part of a flower isn’t getting “blown out” – this is when the pixels on any part of the image are 100% white and show no definition. Simply being aware of these pitfalls will make a huge difference in how you shoot.
Get Low, Shoot High
When the sky is blue, use it to your advantage. Blue skies provide excellent contrast for colorful flowers. So rather than shoot bright flowers from above, get down below them and shoot up, with the sky as your background.
When the sun is shining in the early morning and late afternoon, find angles that backlight your flowers. When you are shooting a field of wildflowers, for example, shooting into the sun will result in a dreamy surreal scene.
When shooting a single backlit flower, the effect can be either soft and dreamy, or stark and dramatic.
So whenever you are outside and spot some spring flowers in bloom, don’t just stop to smell them…stop to shoot and share them too. Be sure to tag #TMOM on your best spring flower shots on instagram, and we’ll share our favorites!