It’s no surprise that images of flowers are extremely popular and are one of the most commonly printed and sold images. Flowers have a way of lifting the spirit. Because there are so many varieties, the type of photographs you can capture will vary and evoke different emotions. To make the most of your common daises or exotic orchids, read on.
Zoom In for Details
Zooming in as close as possible will give you the most dramatic effects and details. The only true way of getting close-up, high quality flower photos, is by using a specialized macro lens (50mm to 200mm). Macro lenses uncover details that would be impossible to detect with the unaided eye and give a new, interesting perspective on the subjects. Close-ups of petals and buds of the flower, or water droplets can jump out of the page.
Once you have the macro lens, it’s important to use selective focusing. Keeping everything in the image sharp means there’s no focal point; therefore chose one spot of the subject and keep that sharp. Ideally, choose a low ISO for quality and use a tripod or a monopod so there is no camera shake – blur is very obvious in macro shots. Choose a shallow DOF (depth of field), normally f/2.8–f/8 to give everything else a slightly blurry, ethereal effect.
When photographing outdoors, you will meet with all kinds of weather conditions. On bright sunny days, you have to consider balancing the harsh sun; use fill-in flash to illuminate the subject and to keep the fore and backgrounds balanced. Use a gold reflector for warmth and silver or white toned reflectors to bounce light back on the image. Reflectors will also work well as a shield against the wind.
Try Different Angles
If you want to create extra interest, think about how you are composing the photograph. Remember the rule of thirds and play with convention by framing your subject matter to one side of the frame. Tilt your camera to get an interesting viewpoint and slightly crooked horizon. You can also use the sun creatively; point the camera towards the sun and flare will appear, like light beams on the image.
A great way of bringing the indoor studio look to the outdoors is by using colored cards (in some situations, you can simply bring the flowers inside to the studio). Colored cards are easy to find and you can buy them at a stationery store or art supply store. To use them, place the card behind the flower, and choose a complementary or contrasting color to bring out the petals. If indoors, use a spotlight pointing directly at the back and center of the image, so as to create a gentle halo effect and a two toned background.
Details and Patters
Flowers are not just about the petals but about the leaves too. Using a creative eye, carefully pick out the fine details and repetitive patterns you can see. Use a macro lens to get the best magnification. You can use a ringlight flash to add contrast to the image, but make sure there is no blur or camera shake – a common problem with extremely close up images. Shoot on a low ISO, either 50 or 100 to get a fine grain and bright color reproduction.
Shoot with a shallow DOF (depth of field), of around f/4 to create a blurred background and make the flower stand out. If you are outdoors and it is a bright day, consider underexposing slightly by -1 stop, to bring out the details of the flower, the leaves and stem.
There are certain tools that will make shooting flowers easier; a macro lens with an aperture of f/2.8 is ideal for the task. A tripod or a monopod is a good accessory you can use in the home or when out on location and means you can avoid any blur, which is always more apparent in close up images. Also take a colored card with you! It’s a great way to create an instant studio background no matter where you are.
The wonderful thing about flowers is that they can be found nearly everywhere! There may be some daisies in your garden; you could buy a bouquet at the local store, or you could go to a park with lots of flowers. Always remember, don’t remove anything that is not yours. Take your time, because flowers don’t run away. This allows you to really consider the composition of your photo. Flowers provide ideal subjects for obtaining outstanding photos!