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How to take good pictures of flowers

How to take good pictures of flowers

Flower photography is a wonderful pastime for lovers of nature and the outdoors. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a beginner, photographing flowers can bring you joy as well as those wonderfully produced stock flower photos that can support your business if you’re a professional like a botanist or researcher like Carolus Linnaeus. You know it’s almost spring when you can hear the birds chirping and can see the tree branches blossoming. For photographers and aspiring photographers who are passionate about spring scenery, this is your signal to prepare your gear (or buy new photography equipment) and get excited about shooting some inspiring photos of flowers.

Achieving clean, polished, and professional looking flower photographs are not tricky to produce. In fact it is one of the first types of shoots a beginner can practice with to enhance their skill and knowledge when functioning a camera and all of its features. Flower photography tips can be applied to all sorts of photography from bokeh to landscape. Plus, flowers make great backgrounds and props to compliment your subject or whatever else you are shooting. So, it is accurate to say that shooting flowers is a very slick way of getting to know your camera and capture some gorgeous images of nature during the process.

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When is the best time to photoshoot flowers?

Let’s begin by saying that there is no wrong time to shoot flowers except maybe in a poorly lit environment which wont be able to highlight the detail of the flowers you’re shooting. Plus, under poor lighting conditions, most flower petals will probably also be closed. The best times to photograph flowers is during golden hour, or in the early morning when the sun rays are beaming over the horizon, making the morning dew on the flowers glisten and glow with a prism like effect. Shooting photographs outdoors on a sunny day will provide amazing natural light which is a perfect way to highlight the natural beauty and bright colors of flowers. Always check the weather before you head out on your photoshoot. Overcast days should be avoided, or at least have a backup plan for other types of photoshoots or activities in case the sun is not cooperating with your photoshoot schedule.

It is worth noting that shooting photographs mid day when the sun is strongest and at its peak in the sky, it can produce harsh light which creates deep sharp shadows. This is when your gear accessories will come in handy. Using a reflector or a lens diffuser can help alleviate this issue. These are not expensive accessories and should be inside every photographer’s gear bag, regardless of your skill level.

What if you plan to photograph flowers indoors? Can it be done? Absolutely. Flowers make amazing props for indoor photoshoots and flowers can also be the subject of your shot. Just ask any wedding photographer. You only need to remember a few great tips when setting up your camera and scene for these shots. Generally speaking, you should avoid any cluttered background as that will take away from the flowers intricate details. Additionally, you will need to find a spot with soft light that is balanced, meaning you see little to no shadows. Lastly, when flowers are the subject of the image, flowers should be in the foreground of the shot which means you should avoid an overpowering backlight. You will always need a light source for your photoshoot. While an overpowering backlight may produce a cool silhouette of the flower, it will not produce any vivid color and detail of the flower itself.

Even when shooting flowers indoors you can still create an outdoor effect as if the flowers are still in their natural habitat. Leveraging types of photography such as bokeh (which is a very intimate) while indoors can make your composition look more like the natural settings. This is because bokeh photography blurs the background while keeping the foreground sharp, thus highlighting the main subject and its detail. This works exceptionally well with close up macro photography which is a great way to photoshoot flowers.

For indoor flower photoshoots, keep a spray bottle handy to replicate those amazing early morning shots when part of the flower such as the petals or stamen has water droplets just as they would from the morning dew. Flowers also tend to open up a bit to drink up the water, making them a bit more photogenic.

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Camera Settings, Gear, & Taking the Shot

You know camera settings are a big deal. Whether you’re shooting with your iPhone or a high end DSLR camera such as a Canon EOS, Sony Alpha series, or Nikon you always need to know how to adjust your shot accordingly. Especially when it comes to the settings. Particular shots like bokeh requires a specific shallow depth of field, matching the focal point with the subject, use the proper lens for focal length, and the correct exposure configuration to create the shot you envision. Although using an iPhone can present its own challenges since you don’t have access to these settings, iPhone users can search for apps that will create a replication of almost any style of photography. Just know, pictures taken from a smartphone will never compare to the pictures taken from a real DSLR or mirrorless camera.

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Finding the right exposure is easy, even for beginners. Although beginners will need a tiny bit of patience while sorting through the adjustments. Just about every pro camera showcases powerful features that will automatically find and adjust the exposure and focus settings for you. However, you can probably get an even better shot by going fully manual. The ISO is important to adjust to the amount of light in the environment, meaning, if you’re outside, you will probably need a low setting unless it is very cloudy with little sun. Your aperture size should compliment the amount of light you want to expose to the camera sensor while also determining the sharpness of the foreground and background of your image. Typically, you will want your subject sharp when shooting flowers which will be supported through a fast shutter speed, but you can leave them open longer if you’re trying to create a streak effect of the background such as rain or something like that. Longer shutter speed catches the movement of everything in the image from the time the shutters open until they are closed and can offer artistic characteristics to your photo.

Choosing the right lens will depend on the type of image you want to take and is also crucial to the success of your shot. You should be looking at a bokeh or macro lens for close ups and use a low f-stop for a wide aperture to create that blurry background bokeh effect. You can consider a telephoto lens with strong magnification if going to a place where you may see wildflowers in the distance, such as a hike where you want to remain safe on the trail. Generally, a classic wide angled zoom lens should support all of your landscape photography types of shots and portraits. However, a good prime lens is always good to have in your gear bag for specific focal lengths. You can find an amazing variety of lenses produced by the company who makes your camera as well as specially crafted lenses by Sigma and Tamron which are also exclusive to each brand’s mounting system. 

Accessories also play a major role in achieving amazing photography. Besides your camera and lenses, you should always have lens filters and diffusers to help support your shots. Using a tripod will eliminate any camera shake that is prone to happen when shooting handheld, even when image stabilization is turned on. It’s also best practice to have an extra power supply and memory cards just in case. You never know when opportunities and challenges arise and you should always be ready.

Some of the best tutorials come from experience. Explore and experiment with your camera and types of shots you take to enhance your skill, knowledge, and experience working with a camera. Practice on a single flower from different angles. An image of a beautiful flower can tell a story if you make it so. Adjust your settings step by step until they’re perfect. Remember to shoot in the rule of thirds to get your composition right. And finally, feel free to edit your photos to brighten, polish, and complete your image. Post processing is commonplace in professional photography and also a fun way to play around with, review, and sort all the images from your photoshoot.

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