Spring has finally arrived in my corner of the world. Unfortunately, because I live in the Pacific Northwest, that means a lot of rain. I guess it’s a good thing I like the rain. 😉 It also means lots of flowers. After months of gray cloudy skies, more snow than we are used to and so much rain, even a rain enthusiast like me is tired of it, it’s refreshing to see colorful flowers spring up everywhere.
So as we wander into spring and the world begins to bloom, I thought it would be a good time to share tips for photographing flowers.
1) Camera settings – the kind of camera you use, and your skill level will determine what settings you’ll be using. If you are shooting with a point-and-shoot or in automatic modes on your “fancy” camera, switch to the macro setting (flower icon). This will allow you to get as close to your subject as your lens allows. If you have the ability to change lenses, try using a macro lens. If you are a venturing into the world of semi-automatic modes, use aperature priority. Play with the different aperature sizes to see how they affect your image.
2) Light – light matters when it comes to photography, even when shooting flowers. Try shooting later in the day when the sun is low in the sky and the light is soft. If the only time you have to shoot is in the middle of the day, pray for cloudy skies. If the sun is shining bright bring along some white paper, poster board, or a 5-in-1 reflector. You can use these to either shade your flowers from the harsh sun, or reflect light back to your subject to fill in the shadows.
3) Angle and Viewpoint – Most people take pictures from their eye level. Changing your angle of view, and your viewpoint is an easy way to make your photo’s stand out. Get down on the ground and shoot the flowers from their level. Or get even lower for an “ant’s eye” view. Use the zoom feature on your camera to zoom in close and capture small details. Or zoom all the way out to include the environment of your flowers.
4) Wind – When shooting flowers wind is your enemy. Even a slight breeze can look like a hurricane through the viewfinder of your camera. I’ve found the flowers sometimes stay still when shooting early in the morning before the sun heats up the ground. You may have to wait for a day when there is no breeze . . . or just take your flowers inside.
5) Take your time – walk around the flower fields and explore before you start shooting. Often the best photo is not the most obvious. Spend some time taking in the beauty of the location. Examine the different angles and subjects. Then when you pull out your camera, you’ll know what you want to shoot, and you won’t miss out on the experience.
6) Blurry Backgrounds – to get the beautiful blurry backgrounds that isolate your subject, you need to have some distance between your flower and the background. If the background is too close, it will be in the same focusing area as your flower, and therefore will be in focus. If you are using a point-and-shoot or the automatic modes on your “fancy” camera the macro (flower icon) setting will blur the background for you. If you are using aperture priority use the smaller numbers for a larger opening in your lens, this will help blur the backgrounds.
7) Focus is king – it doesn’t matter how good your photo is if it’s out of focus it can’t be saved. No amount of editing can fix an out of focus image. So pay attention to where your camera is focusing. Identify what you want the focus of your image to be, and then work to make it happen. When shooting up close, the area that can be in focus becomes very small. It takes some skill to shoot extremely close and get things in focus. So KEEP PRACTICING!!