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12 Essential Techniques For Stunning Flower Photography


Intro

Flowers make great photography subjects because of their vibrant colours, varied shapes, diverse textures and because of the intricate details you can capture in this captivating genre. In addition, flowers are in abundance during spring and summer as well as being free and easy to access.


When doing flower photography we can often be satisfied with capturing the standard flower shot, but flower photography has so much more to offer than that which a regular snapshot will produce.


To get the most from our flower photography we must be prepared to put some thought into our equipment, our camera settings, our composition and our shooting techniques.


There are many photography guides that will give you expert advice on the best camera, lens, aperture and various accessories to use for flower photography, if this is what you require. I am simply offering 12 techniques I have used to improve my flower photography, with images to illustrate each technique. I hope they give you some inspiration.


12 ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES FOR STUNNING FLOWER PHOTOGRAPHY


  1. Get to know your subjects: Becoming familiar with your location and with the subject whose image you want to capture is an important part of every photography genre, and flower photography is no exception. Spend time observing flowers. Get to know where and how they grow, become familiar with the different stages of their growth, admire their variety of size, shape, colour and texture. If you spend time with your subjects, observing their beauty, they will begin to reveal much more than is visible with just a cursory glance and they will repay you with more stunning images.

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2. Vary your composition and shooting angle: Most flowers are low growing so by getting close to their level you can get a more natural and intimate perspective. Kneeling or lying on the ground gives you a good vantage point from which to shoot and helps to separate the subject from the background. If you use a tripod try one with low level capability, or you may like to use a beanbag to support your camera when shooting at ground level. As well as shooting up from the bottom of the flower, another option is to shoot down from above. This works well when shooting a flat flower. You can shoot the whole flower, zone in on a part of the flower, keep part of the stem in the picture or focus solely on the petals. Don't forget to shoot the back of the flower as well as the front as this will show the flower in a unique way You can fill the frame with the flower or move back and include surrounding details to tell a story with your image. The main point is - vary your shooting style and composition to create the most interesting images.

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3. Check your background: Background can make the difference between having a compelling flower image that the viewer will linger over and having a cluttered image with no obvious focal point. If the background is cluttered, has too many competing colours or includes random objects such as twigs or other plants, there will be no clear contrast between subject and background and the subject will not stand out. Move around and position your camera to ensure that your background is relatively plain to avoid detracting from the subject. Alternatively, use a wide aperture to create a pleasing background bokeh.


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4. Get closer with a macro lens: I must admit that the purchase of a relatively cheap macro lens has elevated my flower photography, as well as increasing my enjoyment of the genre. I no longer have to settle for capturing flowers from a few feet away but can get closer to each flower to create more unique and interesting images. I can focus on tiny details that cannot be seen from a more distant viewpoint. However, a dedicated macro lens is not essential for good flower photography. Some magnifying filters will give you an opportunity to get closer to the flower and while you will lose some image quality you will get to experiment with closer compositions.

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5. Keep a part of your flower sharp: The closer we get to our subject the more difficult it becomes to keep all of the image in focus. While a soft image is acceptable in macro photography, it is important that at least part of the image is sharply in focus so that the viewer has somewhere to look. Without a definite anchor point for the eye to land on the viewer will quickly move away.

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6. Try ICM: ICM (intentional camera movement) provides a creative alternative to the standard flower image. Flowers are an ideal subject for ICM because of their vibrant colours, often found in near proximity to each other. Almost any type of lens can be used to create beautiful ICM flower photography, and you can experiment with different lenses and various shutter speeds to get the effect you are looking for. One simple technique is to use a telephoto lens (a kit lens is fine) and turn the zoom lens as you press the shutter button, providing a burst of colour. You may need to keep trying until you get the hang of this technique but the results make the effort well worthwhile.

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7. Choose the right light: Flower photography is best practised in soft, diffused light. Morning and evening light are best for getting the best flower images, and a cloudy day will also work as the clouds will provide a soft box to diffuse the light. Harsh midday sun is not conducive to good flower photography as it creates harsh shadows and leaves while spots of light on the petals.


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8. Use a shallow depth of field: A shallow depth of field can take care of unwanted distractions in the background of your image and this technique also provides a beautiful aesthetic to your images in the form of background bokeh. The best bokeh effect is created by using a wide aperture (below f5.6) and putting some distance between your subject and its background. It is important to note that lenses differ in the type of bokeh they produce, with faster lenses producing a more pleasing bokeh, although even this can be subjective and a matter of individual taste. Personally, I like the bokeh effect in flower photography.

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9. Use backlight for effect: Positioning a flower between the camera and a light source, such as the sun, produces another unique viewpoint in flower photography. The flower subject is backlit and becomes almost translucent. While not how you want to view flowers all the time, using this technique occasionally can add something extra to an otherwise regular looking flower image.

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10. Go out after a rain shower: Flowers take on a wholly magical look when their petals glisten with raindrops after a shower which makes this a great time to photograph them. In this instance it is important to get as close as you can to capture the raindrops on the surface of a flower or hanging from the tip of a petal. As well as giving you an opportunity to capture raindrops on petals, a recent shower brings out the saturation of the colours of the flowers and helps you create more vibrant flower images.

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11. Tell a story with a wider view: This might seem to be a contradiction of the advice to 'get closer' to your subjects in flower photography, but sometimes a large patch of colourful flowers can look compelling, particularly if you include some other elements to provide a context. While some photographers might consider this approach to be closer to a snapshot than a flower photography image, it can still result in a pleasing composition and it tells a story of the place. If telling a story with flower images is something you like to do, which I do from time to time, then I say go for it!

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12. Edit your images: The art of post processing is an important part of flower photography, in my opinion. As in all types of photography, flower shots will come out of camera looking flat and de-saturated, especially if you shoot in raw. A few adjustments to exposure, contrast, texture, vibrance and clarity, as well as raising shadows and reducing highlights, can make a world of difference to your image, but you don't have to stop there and you can get as creative as you wish with post processing. Alternatively, if you don't wish to spend time editing your photos, a quick click of the 'auto' tab in a program such as lightroom is often all that is needed to transform your image from flat and dull to alive and vibrant.

 

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FINAL THOUGHTS


Flower photography is an interesting, challenging, enjoyable and rewarding form of photography. With some basic equipment, a little bit of imagination and a lot of patience you could soon be producing stunning flower images.


If you haven't already given flower photography a try then I hope I have given you some ideas that will pique your interest and help get you started on what could be a wonderful photography adventure.


Why not make a start today?

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