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Shooting flowers is often thought of as simple compared to other types of nature photography. Flowers can’t dash away and you don’t need to carry heavy, long glass around with you to get a decent shot.

 

On the other hand though, flowers are delicate, small, and don’t provide a peak moment of action most of the time. This makes photographing flowers a bit more challenging than some other forms of nature photography.

 

We’re breaking down the steps you need to focus on to capture beautiful flower photos and get you ready for spring.

 

flower photography tips

Getting tight into the flower zoomed to 300mm draws your eye into the details.

 

One of the first things to think about is the background. What’s happening behind your flowers? That can be as critical to the image as the flower itself.

 

You can pick up a specialty macro lens that’s geared toward close-ups and therefore flower photography, or you can take your favorite all in one zoom and we’ll show you how to get the best flower photos.

 

flower close ups

Shooting back around 200mm, the photo can start to get busy with all of the other colors and textures.

 

The wider end of your zoom, in our case 16mm, allows you to include the plant or flower in its surroundings. This tells the viewer where you were and sets the scene. Were you in a garden at home, or a larger professional garden, or perhaps in a field of wild flowers? Using a wide-angle lens also increases the depth of field, so your flower subjects and their background can all be in focus.

 

A short to mid telephoto lens is useful if you want to isolate an individual flower. This lens length will help by throwing the background out of focus.

 

Another helpful tool for flower photography is a tripod. It’s not a necessity, but it is extremely helpful in getting sharp, crisp photos. You can set the camera on a tripod and position it level with the flower to create an interesting composition. Be sure to always check, and double check the background. Look around the entire frame for any distractions. When your subject is small and delicate, even the smallest distraction can ruin an image.

 

photography flowers outdoors

A tripod helped keep the camera steady here.

 

Since detail is critical in flower photography you may want to change your ISO setting to a lower number. Instead of your basic 400, lower it down to 100. This will reduce noise in your image and give the solid color portions of the photo a creamy, smooth feel. A small aperture, like f/11 or f/16 will deliver more depth of field so more parts of your photo will be in focus. A large aperture, like f/2.8 or f/4.5 will deliver less depth of field so flowers will stand out from the background.

 

One of the most difficult things for people to grasp in photography is that your eyes see a larger range of light and color than your camera will. When you look at a field of flowers at 2pm on a bright sunny day, you see deep, rich colors. If you photograph that same scene, you will see dark shadows, blown out highlights, and washed out colors. You need to train your eyes to see like your camera so you know what to do to capture the images you are hoping for.

 

flower photography sample

This is the plant we started with during the bright afternoon sun and pockets of shade.

 

Using soft, diffused light delivers a more appealing result with bright, well-saturated colors. If you find yourself out at the “wrong time of day” for flower photography, that’s ok though. Bring something that can shade your subject and background and you can still capture the rich colors and textures you are looking for. Another option is to have the sun facing you, instead of behind you and use that backlight to showcase the outline of the flower and therefore have richer colors in the foreground. When you use backlight, it works best when the background of the flower is dark. So use a shady spot in the back, or bring a piece of dark green or black poster board to put behind your flowers off in the distance. That will fall to darkness and the backlit flower will pop.

 

flower sample photo

Finding a subject was easy, but the contrast in the harsh sunlight areas washed out the colors.

 

how to photograph flowers

Moving to an area of the plant that was in the shade gave us soft, diffused light that allowed the colors to saturate the image and the background went dark.



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Tony

22-04-2015

Great suggestions. Tip I might not have thought of - dialing down the ISO for the results you mentioned. For a background, I have used wide piece of black, non-reflective fabric. It can be stapled to a long dowel or gift wrap tube & carefully rolled up for easy carrying & storage. One other challenge, flowers are easily moved by the wind. You might have to adjust with a higher shutter speed, a slightly faster ISO, block the wind, careful timing, or try another day.

subroto mukerji

22-04-2015

The article says a lot in a few words, given the space limitations. One tip: even the standard kit zoom that comes with the camera - Nikon crop sensor, Olympus, Panasonic - can do a pretty good job; it focuses quite close, is sharp, and is usually stabilized, Also, don't look down your nose at compacts like the Nikon Coolpix P7700, the All-weather AW110, or the fabulous Sony RX100. All these cameras have allowed me to take highly satisfactory flower close-ups.

enit

20-06-2015

The lessons gleaned from the article on the photograph of flowers were most interesting and useful. It was as if you were aware of my interest in the subject. I tried to take pictures of flowers before but had no clue.
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