We all appreciate beautiful flowers, they’re nature’s finest models. However, capturing their essence on camera isn’t as easy as it looks. Here are eight great tips to help perfect your floral photography.
1. Get Close – closer than close
If you want get up close and personal with your floral subject, you should invest in a macro lens. A macro lens is designed to allow you to take photographs of small objects at close proximity by recording an image of the object on the sensor at life-size or larger. For floral photography, a 100mm lens works well. However, beware that the close proximity to your subject limits the depth of field so you must be mindful of your focus, as it is very easy to get a blurred image.
To avoid this, switch from auto to manual focus so that you are in full control; then, by moving your focus in and out by just a few millimetres, you can achieve the sharpest image.
2. Take advantage of the British weather
Flowers are natural beings and so look best when lit by natural daylight. But too much direct sunshine will overexpose your photographs or cause lots of ugly shadows. The ideal light is obtained on a cloudy/overcast day, which acts as a natural soft box creating softer, diffused light.
If, on the other hand, you are in too much shade, you can recapture some light through the use of a reflector.
3. Negative Space
Taking advantage of negative space aids to isolate and define one single flower. Negative space is the large volume of empty space surrounding the main subject of the photo. The background should be soft or empty; if not, you can blur the background by using a longer lens and wider focal length. This space draws you into your subject and creates a more interesting and absorbing composition.
The wind is your enemy! It will blow flowers and leaves causing you blurred photographs and a lot of frustration. Beat the wind by using a high shutter speed of at least 1/2000 sec or employing a helping hand; I mean literally – get someone to hold the stem, obviously with fingers out of shot!
5. Fill the frame
Fill the frame with the whole flower. Items in the background can sometimes be distracting, so why not fill the whole frame with petals? If you cannot get in close enough to do this, you could always crop the photograph later. Take your time and look at all aspects of the flower, as sometimes a beautiful shot can be taken from underneath or from behind the flower. In concentrating on one flower alone you can create a bold floral portrait.
6. Minimise depth of field
To make your flower centre of attention and isolate it from its surroundings, you can blur the background and sharpen the focus on your subject. You can achieve this by using a telephoto lens (70-200mm) and setting your camera to a low aperture (f/2.8).
7. Find a perfect flower
They say perfection is unattainable but flowers are an exception to this rule. Try and find a healthy flower; free of tears, missing petals, brown edges or wilting stems. As your subject is so small and intricate, little imperfections are more noticeable and can ruin an otherwise perfect photograph.
8. Go Abstract
Sometimes just taking a close section of the flower can make for a beautiful photograph. By shooting a cross-section of the flower you can home in on beautiful details, such as delicate changes of colour or elegant folds of the petals. These can produce beautiful abstract compositions.
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