Spring is a gorgeous season to go out and make new beautiful photos. It’s all about colors and lots of daylight. What could be better for a photographer than digging into flower photography and green grass that can be captured through the lens? In this article, we have collected the best flower photography tips that will come in handy for both a newbie and a Pro.
After reading this guide, you’ll get some new flower photography ideas; get a better grip on what angle to choose, and what techniques to keep in mind before clicking the shutter.
Tips for Improving Your Flower Photography
1. Get Prepared
First things first, you need to get all your gear together, choose a proper lens, and other equipment that you may need out in the fields. Flowers are a great subject to try macro photography. If you have a macro lens, it will be a great option.
If you don’t have a macro lens, don’t worry, any lens from 50mm to 200mm will work.
After the lens and cameras, you will also often need a tripod. This piece of equipment will improve your work by leaps and bounds. Of course, it’s not very comfortable to carry a tripod around, but your flower photography is worth it.
2. Know Your Lenses
Start exploring your lens capabilities. Each lens has its smallest focusing distance; it will help you identify how close you can come to the flower. Flower form, structure, and color require an individual approach.
To show the beauty of various plants, you need to use different lenses and apply them when necessary. For close up flower photography, where you perhaps only capture the stamen or part of a flower, the best solution is a macro lens. If you want to capture the beauty of small flowers at a distance, it is better to use a lens with a focal length of 50-200mm.
3. Find the Focal Point
For any photography genre, you need to draw the eyes of the viewer on your subject. This is also true for beautiful flower photographs. The best flower photographers focus on the main subject so the viewer is never in doubt where to look. You don’t need to set it in the centre, but somewhere closer to the frame. Use the rule of thirds to place your flower (or your subject) on one of the ‘lines’.
I want to remind you about the rule of thirds; it proposes that the image should be divided into nine equal parts by two horizontal and two vertical lines. This way, the essential elements of your photo should be placed on these lines or their intersections.
For example, when you shoot a field of flowers, the skyline should be set on a lower or upper horizontal line, just like on the image below.
4. Highlight Your Subject
Flowers that are the subject of your shot should be your focus. Make sure you removed everything that could distract the clear view of the item from the foreground and background. There are numerous ways to get rid of distractions, such as:
- crop the photo;
- move the distractions or yourself;
- make the depth of field more narrow (wider aperture will decrease the depth of field);
- move the subject (but it’s not a very good method, because in this case, you need to pick the flowers and take it elsewhere).
5. Live View is Your Best Friend when Photographing Flowers
Live view is in flower photography and allows you to compose the picture and where to position critical elements. However, you can use the live view mode only with a tripod. Otherwise, your image will turn out blurry.
Adjust the camera position if necessary, achieve the composition you want, and then go to the manual mode and click the shutter. This technique is useful for your macro and close-up flower photography images.
6. Go Wide
Sometimes you can get a better image when you look at the big picture. Most photographers shoot flowers on macro and lose the opportunity to get a fantastic landscape shot. Maybe you can focus not on a single flower, but a whole field.
You can get so attentive to the details that you forget to take a step back and see the whole picture. After you make a few close-up flower shots, take a wide-angle lens and see the full scene. Wide-angle flower photography is perhaps the most unexplored area of flower photography, but it might also prove to be more challenging to keep the composition of your flower photos simple and clean.
I would say that 98% of all flower photos are in the range of being either of a few flowers in a group or macro shots of parts of flowers. Great wide-angle shots of flowers are rare, but it can be done successfully and be a great addition to an amazing flower photography portfolio.
7. Don’t Forget About Lighting.
Usually, you shoot flowers outside where perfect daylight does the entire job for you. You don’t need any specific lighting equipment, however, outside conditions could be unpredictable, and you might need a reflector or a diffuser. They can give you natural, diffused light on the areas of your photo that are in the shadow.
The beauty of the flowers can be captured with backlighting. Stand right in front of the sun and let the light illuminate the bulb from the back. It allows creating a stunning glowing effect for a flower. Try to make use of the golden hour and capture flowers bathed in the beautiful golden light by using side lighting.
8. Make Abstract Image
Get creative with your flower photography. Contrasting colors, patterns, and textures of nature can help you to take a few stunning abstract shots. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this photography genre.
Abstract nature images can invoke a sense of creativity and mystery. Such shots allow us to try to take all pieces of the picture together and guess what it is. You may get some interesting images when you change your point of view. Since a lot of images already exist, looking on a general subject from a new perspective can give you amazing results.
9. Shoot on an Overcast Day
Not all sunny spring days are suitable for flower photography. A cloudy day gives natural soft light that highlights the delicacy and tenderness of the flowers. This is a good time to pick up your gear and take it for a flower photography session.
Direct sun on a sunny day can give you unnecessary shadows. Usually, you can’t shoot during the midday, unlike the overcast day.
10. Wind is one of the Biggest Obstacles in Flower Photography
One of the biggest challenges in photographing flowers is the wind. It moves flowers all the time, leaving a blur on the images.
You can turn on the tracking focus (on Nikon cameras this feature is AF-S) that will focus on waving flowers if you are not too close to your subject. Another way to avoid the wind is by using fast shutter speed, for example, 1/800 and more. You can also use your body or an object to block the wind from reaching the subject you want to photograph.
11. Don’t Be Afraid of the Backlight
Natural light plays a key role in flower photography. It is most favorable for flower images. The ideal time for shooting is early morning and just before sunset when the sun is not so bright. It is recommended to use a tripod and live view to track your composition and focus.
Try to place the flower between the camera and the rays to create an impression of the light penetrating the petals.
12. Get a Closer Look
There are several ways to take a photo from a closer distance. You can use a telephoto lens and zoom it into the flower. Super tele zooms up to 600mm can work fine with flower photography.
If it is too small, you can use extension tubes or close-up filters which will increase the object. Another alternative is to take photos with a macro lens.
13. Change Perspective
The most stunning results can be achieved from unusual angles. Flower photographs look most impressive if they are taken from a point as if a person naturally looks at a bouquet while standing or sitting.
Another position for photographing bouquets and flowers is from top to bottom, but it is also very common and perhaps borders being boring. If you are looking for a creative shot, you can try shooting from a different angle. People traditionally look at flowers from their height, but if you lie down on the ground to take a photo, the result will be amazing.
14. Use Macro
Have you ever been puzzled about how professional photographers make such close-ups of flowers that only a bee can see in the process of nectar collecting?
The answer is quite simple – they use macro lenses for flower photography. With a macro lens, it is possible to take an image of a 1: 1 scale. Only such a lens will help you achieve this result. The contrast sharpness of such lenses is so small that when shooting a flower, some little elements in the background may be blurred.
To go even closer, like a 2x magnification, you can use an extension tube in combination with a macro lens. Watch out for the slice thin depth of field, that might be too narrow for looking good, even for close up flower photography.
15. Water Drops Works Perfect for Flower Photography
Almost everyone saw fantastic photographs depicting drops of water taking the most bizarre forms. Water drops will add a nice touch to floral photos.
Of course, the easiest way is to organize shooting after the rain or at dawn when there is dew on the plants. However, it is not difficult to create a water drop effect; it is enough to use a spray bottle.
16. Avoid Clutter on the Background
When shooting flowers, you must carefully choose the background. Remember that white and light flowers look very bad on a white background.
There is no universally correct or incorrect background colour. Everything, of course, depends on the task, but the background colour should not distract from the main object. Sometimes you even need to use a bright contrast background to favourably outline the flower.
17. Think Outside the Box
Most flower photos are quite general and do not convey the colours and textures that you see in reality. Try to shoot the flower unusually and the picture will transform in a different light. You can take a photo of some segment like a petal or a stamen.
Such images intrigue and leave room for fantasy. It is an excellent approach to evoke the viewer’s curiosity.
18. Experiment with Sunlight
If you are going to shoot flowers in the rays of sunlight, then the best time is the morning or an hour before sunset. In the daytime, the light is too bright, and you will have to use a diffuser sheet.
Too much light affects the quality of the photo, blurring the texture of the petals and leaves and reducing the contrast depth. It is also essential use an angle in which natural light is behind the plant. The best setting for this type of flower photography would be to use an aperture of approx. f/16 to allow the sunrays to turn into a startlight like above. Thus you can get a beautiful background.
19. Shallow Depth of Field
The depth of the field is a good solution to add a nice blur element to your flower photos. Shallow depth of field will enable you to highlight your subject while keeping everything else softly out of focus.
This can be achieved using a wide aperture. Aim for an aperture of f.2-f/5 for low depth-of-field flower photography.
20. Be Creative
Photography is art, and it is you who is setting the rules. Only you can decide what should be eye-catching in your composition, how to play with the light. Follow your feelings and do not be afraid to create something new and nontrivial.
The most important thing is to allow you enough time when it comes to photography.
21. Don’t Forget About Post-Processing
Sometimes even the most boring and dark image could be saved with proper post-processing. Lightroom allows you to enhance light and colours on your image.
Besides, using similar photo editing techniques you can develop your own unique photographic style. If you have a certain set of settings in Lightroom, make sure to save them as a preset. This way you can post-process any image in one click.
22. Make it Sharp
One of the most common causes of blurry shots in flower photography is shaking hands. In this case, you can use a tripod and take a picture using the remote control if available, or use a faster shutter speed. Another cause is to misplace the area in focus. This is even more important to get absolutely right when doing close up and macro flower photography.
23. Location is Not the Key in Flower Photography
Many beginners mistakenly think that success in photography implies a lot of traveling and shooting in exotic places. This is entirely wrong.
If you photograph flowers, you can find them everywhere. You need to turn around and explore flowers in your neighborhood: parks, gardens, home plants. Start experiencing today to enhance your skills and reach success soon.
24. The Best Camera Settings for Flower Photography
The correct camera settings for flower photography are essential: You will get the best results by going with a fast shutter speed and sacrificing a low ISO. The aperture value to use depends on how close you are to your subject, how much you need to keep in focus, and how blurry a background you prefer. Usually, I would suggest that you stay in the area of f/2 – f/10 unless you try to achieve something creative for your flower photography, like including star-like sunrays pervading in your flower photo.
Since flowers are non-moving (except for wind movement of course), you can use a single focus point and keep the focus locked, at all your shots using the composition of your flower and background. If you intent to include an insect in your shot, you would have to change the focus method, unless you have your camera on a tripod and pre-focus, and simply wait for the insect to land or hover in the right place.
Want to learn more about macro photography?
Flower photography is the result of observation and exploring your options, in a slow-paced process, where you enjoy working with a beautiful natural subject. You need to understand how light works and be attentive to the details. You should be patient enough to return again and again to the same place and experiment with flower photography. Only this way your efforts will be rewarded by the stunning photos that will not leave any viewer indifferent.
What is your experience with flower photography? Share it in the comments below, or share any flower photography ideas, you have? Thanks.