Now that spring has finally arrived, you may be experiencing a newfound temptation to stop and shoot the roses. Here are some tips and techniques that will help you capture the best possible flower photography.
Counterintuitive as it might seem, using the sun as a backlight often creates even more vibrant colors. All you need to do is position yourself so the flower is directly between your camera and the sun.
Weather the Weather
As Jessica Ford explains in Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away, rainy days actually open a whole new door of creative opportunities. If you’re planning on spending the day shooting flowers, don’t rule out rainy or cloudy days. These weather conditions might seem undesirable, but shooting on cloudy days provides excellent – and natural – defused lighting, ideal for flower photography.
Get Out Early, Stay Up Late
Just as you don’t need perfect weather to photograph flowers, you also shouldn’t only be shooting when the sun is high in the sky. Take advantage of the magic hours – shortly after sunrise and just before the sun sets – when the sun’s light is soft. You can also try photographing flowers at night. Get out your flashlights, floodlights, external flashes, and even candles and experiment. Check out my low light photography tips to ensure that the photos taken in these conditions come out well.
Change Your Perspective
As with other kinds of photography, shooting from different angles can create images that are fascinating and unique. Try positioning your camera so you capture the underside of the flower for a more original shot.
When composing your shots, try to avoid having too much going on in the background. Cluttered backgrounds will just pull the viewer’s eye away from the main subject: the flower. Altering your shooting angle can help eliminate unfavorable backgrounds. You can also try shooting with a shallow depth of field.
Depth of Field
A wide aperture (indicated by a small f-stop number on your camera) will produce images that have a shallow depth of field. When photographing flowers, this technique is ideal when you cannot isolate the flower from an unattractive background. If you don’t own a camera which allows for manual exposure control, you can experiment with your camera’s scene modes to get similar results.
Fill Your Frame
Remember that you don’t always need to include the whole flower in your photos. Try filling your frame with just a few petals, or maybe only the center of the flower. These types of images can reveal greater detail and appealing textures you would otherwise miss if you tried to capture the entire flower in your composition..
Take it Inside
When photographing flowers, you don’t always need to shoot outdoors. Exceptional flower photography can be accomplished in a controlled indoor environment, and if you keep the above tips in mind, it can still look natural. For example, the image below was shot indoors: the flowers, which were store-bought, are sitting in a vase on my living room coffee table, and positioned so that the window provided natural lighting. A shallow depth of field, with the mountains as a backdrop, provided an uncluttered background.