I’m just about to head out to one of our local nature parks and take advantage of this beautiful weather to shoot some flower photographs in the early morning light.
But first, I wanted to do a quick post to talk about tips for taking better flower photos. So here we go.
There’s a reason that I’m up this early and it’s that the first hours of sunlight during the day (as well as the last hours of sunlight in the evening) are the best for any kind of photography. And that’s especially true of flowers with their amazing colors and delicate features.
The golden hours—also called the magic hours—are the hour or two before and after sunset and it’s the time of day when the sun is low in the sky. That position means that the sunlight will be move through a thick layer of atmosphere and the particles of gas in that atmosphere cause the sunlight to bounce around and becomes diffuse and soft. In addition, the atmosphere acts as a prism, with the extreme angle imparting a beautiful reddish-golden color to the sunlight.
The result is that the sunlight in the golden hours is flattering and easy to work with. Take advantage of it!
Overcast days are perfect for flower photography because the soft, even, indirect lighting will help to enhance and enrich the colors of the foliage. Diffuse lighting also reduces the chances that your scene will include harsh shadows and bright spots and that makes it easier to get the proper exposure.
If the weather isn’t cooperating and you find yourself shooting in strong sunlight, hunt around for flowers that are situated in an area of open shady. And if that doesn’t work out for you, make your own shade by using a portable translucent light diffuser to soften the overhead sun.
A portable light reflector is an especially handy accessory in flower photography. With it, you can bounce light onto your subject, adding a soft shimmer that makes flowers glow and lightening up any area that’s a bit too dark.
It’s easy to get so caught up in focusing and composition and lighting that you don’t notice that there’s a big stick behind your subject or a road sign just off in the distance. Before snapping that shutter button, make it a habit of mentally stepping back, taking your focus off of your main subject so that you can view the scene within you’re the viewfinder as a whole. Visually peruse the area around and behind your subject to be sure that there aren’t any unwanted objects or distractions in your scene. And then change your position if necessary to eliminate any distracting elements.
When you are working with lightweight, delicate subjects like flowers, the wind can be your enemy. Even the slightest breeze can cause movement in your subject and, hence, blurry photos.
Wind is another reason I like shooting flowers early in the day. There tends to be less wind early on the morning. So, again, take advantage of those early hours if you can!
You can also try increasing your shutter speed to reduce the effects of wind blur. The good news here is that increased shutter speed means a wider aperture and a more shallow depth of field, which is perfect for flower photography.
While there are certainly many examples of wonderful flower shots that include bunches of flowers or landscapes of blossoms, I find that you are often better off keeping it simple and to the point by shooting single flowers. The simplicity keeps the spotlight on the flower and allows your viewer to focus on the subject of the image.
This is my standard refrain. You will almost always get a better photo if you get closer to your subject. Get closer. Fill the frame. Be one with your subject…(well, maybe not one…!)
But when it comes to flower photography, getting close can sometimes mean butting up against the limits of your lens’ focusing ability. If you get closer than the minimum focusing distance, your lens just can’t lock focus.
Instead try moving back a bit and zooming in. If you are shooting with a compact camera, use the macro mode if there is one. Or if you’re using a DSLR and you find flower photography as exciting as I do, you may want to invest in a set of extension lenses, or, better yet, a macro lens.
Well, that’s it for now. I gotta run! The flowers are awaiting.
Below you’ll find more great flower photography tips from Gavin Hoey of GavTrain.com.
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