Flowers bring an element of drama, color and vibrance to your photos. They offer plenty of inspiration for photographers and they are relatively accessible. Flower photography allows for the opportunity to practice essential principles. Additionally, you can find ways to explore advanced techniques along the way.
But there’s more to flower and plant photography than meets the eye. You need to plan ahead to bring out your subject’s natural beauty. Focus on composition, lighting, and your subject matter. These are the essential elements of floral photography.
Here are some useful creative flower photography concepts to captivate your viewers and improve your photography skills. We also share some tips on black and white flower photography, lighting, and tools that will help you take better photos.
Opt For Cloudy Days
Overcast skies cast a soft light on flowers, complementing their bright colors. You can also get an even exposure since there’s usually no harsh bright light and shadows getting in the way.
However, you still need to choose the right time of day to take your photos. You’ll have limited light if you decide to take pictures in the afternoon. You may get unwanted blurs when you shoot at high magnifications with dim lighting. It’s best to take your flower and plant photos at midday with overcast skies.
Photographing A Field of Flowers
Here’s one of the flower photography ideas that requires some experimentation. Instead of taking a picture of only one flower, a shot of the entire field can be mesmerizing. Use the flowers as your foreground and try to capture as much of the landscape as possible. The shape and colors of the flower fields can elevate the landscape in the background.
If you want both the foreground and background to be equally sharp, use a large depth of field. You can also achieve an ideal sharpness from front to back by selecting a smaller aperture. Anywhere within the range of f/11 to f/16 will work well.
Isolate Your Subject
Flower and plant photography offers plenty of opportunities to practice the basics. You may have seen flower images with cluttered backgrounds — something you should try to avoid. Instead, compose your picture, keeping the flower as the predominant focal point. Avoid elements distracting from your subject. This includes hot spots, uncomplimentary patterns, or mismatching colors.
You can take excellent flower pictures on bright sunny days, using the sun’s light as natural backlighting. Flower petals are naturally translucent. With the right amount of backlighting, they can offer a beautiful glow.
The idea is to get the sun’s rays shining towards you, so the light comes from behind the petals. Then, choose the right time of the day to get excellent shots of your blooms. The best times to get natural backlighting are the early morning after sunrise and in the afternoon. These are times when the sun is getting closer to the horizon (the golden hour).
The sun casts a warm light on your subject, creating a pleasant direct backlight on the petals. You may even catch some of the sun’s rays filtered through leaves and branches, creating unique backgrounds.
Avoid Windy Days
It’s no surprise that motion blur can ruin your composition, which is why it’s best to avoid taking outdoor flower pictures on windy days. The slightest movements can affect the photos, throwing your composition off focus and causing motion blur.
Use a tripod with a remote trigger if your hands are shaky during your photoshoot. If you have to shoot pictures on a windy day, choose your location wisely. Find places where the wind is calm enough to keep the flowers still. Selecting a higher shutter speed will also help reduce motion blur. Using at least a 1/125th shutter speed allows you to pick up unique details on close-up pictures. Capture fascinating elements like water droplets and distinct flower parts with this setting.
Bounce Light Off a Reflector
A reflector can come in handy when taking pictures of flowers in the shade. You can create stunning flower photos by combining well-lit backgrounds and shaded flowers. In addition, flowers can look more vibrant when you shine more light on them using a reflector.
Use Softer Lighting
Give your image a unique glow when you use soft, muted light. Sometimes this type of lighting can be challenging to achieve when the sun is up during the day. The bright rays can create harsh shadows on leaves and flowers. Using a diffuser produces muted lighting, which is perfect for accentuating a flower’s features.
Try a Shallow Field of Depth
This is one of the flower photography ideas for beginners who want to capture breathtaking images. Using a shallow field of depth keeps the flower sharp when you take close-range photos. The photo obtains a lower sharpness turning the background into a blur.
Follow these steps to produce this effect:
- Set your camera to a wide aperture by selecting a lower f-number like f/2.8 or maybe an f/4.
- Bring your lens as close to the subject as possible.
- Increase the distance between the background and your subject.
Tips for Black and White Flower Photography
You can alter the mood of the images when you switch to monochrome contrast. In addition, you instill a moody sense to your stills using this technique. Here are some valuable tips for mastering black and white flower photography.
- Use Midday Light: Typically, photographers avoid midday light because it creates harsh shadows. However, this technique works well for black and white photography because you need sharp contrast. Pay attention to the direction of the sunlight, and then use as much contrast as you can to get the desired effect.
- Take Photos of Flowers With a Clear Horizon in the Background: This type of shot requires the sun’s rays directly coming from the back of the flower. Your lens, the flower and the sun should be in alignment, exposing a bright background. This technique creates an impressive macro silhouette perfect for black and white pictures.
- Create Contrasts: Black and white macro photography involves the use of contrasts. One of the best ways to achieve it is to place a dark-colored object against a bright background and vice versa. If your subject is a flower, frame it in your shot with a dark object in the background. You can use a dark wall or a tree casting a shadow on a flower.
You can find more tips on black and white nature photography here in this blog post.
Personal creativity, intuition and knowledge of techniques should be at the forefront when it comes to flower and plant photography. Use the basic tips, tools and techniques mentioned above but don’t be afraid to experiment. You may be surprised at the results when you tweak your approach a bit from time to time.