Spring is the time when everyone thinks of flowers. They are blooming and popping up everywhere, adding dashes of color after a winter of white. So let’s talk about some dos and don’ts of flower photography. Some people don’t know how to make a close up of a flower they love not blurry, while others have trouble visually editing their picture before it is taken. With floral photography it is not always about finding the perfect flower, but instead it is also about the focus, lighting, and capturing a still shot.
First off, with focus you don’t have to strictly follow the unspoken rule that every picture you take has to be “pin-sharp”. A little blurring, or bokeh, can enhance the beautiful soft effect of the petals or add lustre to the dawn glow behind your flower. Explore the breadth of the power of focus so that you know whether you want a blurred background, a super sharp image or somewhere in between.
When finding the right focus, one way to find that perfect edge between in focus and too close is to move in until you can’t focus, then move back slightly and you will have a well focused shot. This will also require a tripod so that your movement of even pressing the button to take the picture can jostle your camera into blurriness and ruin the shot.
The variants of lighting with each flower is like different perspectives on one piece of scenery. Light can change a shot entirely. When you first approach the flower you know you want to take a picture of, take time to really look at all the angles this particular flower has to offer through your lens. This also includes trying out angles that can involve backlighting, highlighting, or silhouettes.
If you want more light, use an external flash or some reflectors. If you want to catch your “perfect shot” of that flower, be willing to come back at different times of the day and see if the natural lighting is better. At different times of the day the lighting can make slight but sometimes remarkable changes in the colors of the pictures taken.
Keep in mind that the typical bright summery day, full of harsh sunlight and shadows, may not be the best time to take your floral pictures. Look instead for a slightly overcast day to act as a natural diffuser or find a piece of material, such as a plain white sheet, to diffuse the sunlight.
Since you can’t really transplant a garden into a photo studio where you can control every detail you want, you need to take into consideration the movement of everything around this flower. This includes the wind and your hands holding the camera. A few pieces of equipment that will help keep the unwanted motion are a tripod and floral clamps. With floral clamps you can still the motion of the flower without harming it.
Another way to minimize the amount of movement going on around you and around your flower is to do your floral photography in the morning. Everything is still slow and in the process of waking up, even the insects are slower.
Lastly it is probably best to set your shutter speed higher to limit the amount of time for movement to make an impression on your pictures.
With all it takes to remember that it takes more than walking outside, pointing your camera at the first flower and taking the perfect picture. Take your time and be prepared and you will be rewarded with some magnificent pictures.