How to Take Better Flower Pictures: Tips for Unique High Quality Photography
Flowers are one of the most frequently photographed subjects for both amateur and professional photographers alike. As they are readily accessible for months on end in many parts of the world and they offer a gorgeous aesthetic, it is not hard to understand why they are such a popular subject. However, as they are so popular, it can be difficult to take macro and close up shots as well as wide angle shots that are different from all of the other flower shots out there. The following tips will get you on your way to exploring new techniques and developing your own nature photography style.
As you consider the techniques in this article, keep these tips in mind.
- Learn your camera settings. Whether you are shooting with a smartphone or a high end Canon or Nikon DSLR or something in between, you must get comfortable with your camera settings. Read the manual and learn everything that you can about shooting with your camera.
- Use basic editing techniques. Hopefully you're already using a basic photo editing program to crop and make simple light adjustments to your photos. If not, it's never too late to start. From there, you can decide whether or not you want to learn more advanced editing techniques to take your photos to the next level.
- Brace yourself. There is a fair amount of controversy about whether or not you need to use a tripod for flower photography. It is up to you to do your research and decide if a tripod would be beneficial for the type of shooting that you do. The bottom line is that you have to figure out how to avoid camera shake so that you get crisp clear photos without any blurring. For some people, a tripod is the best solution. Any time you aren't using a tripod, get in the habit of bracing your arms against something (i.e. a railing) or pulling them in tight against your body to reduce blurring as much as possible.
- Avoid harsh sunlight. Unless you are attempting a specific aesthetic that requires strong sunlight such as the appearance of transparent petals or leaves, steer clear of harsh sunlight. Look for areas with partial shading and consider shooting earlier or later in the day when the sun isn't as direct.
- Avoid windy settings. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get clear shots of flowers when there is a lot of wind. You may be able to hold a single branch or flower in place to snap a couple quick shots, but this practice is not ideal for longer periods of time.
One of the most basic principles that separates amateur from professional photographers is getting on the same level as your subjects. For example, if you're taking pictures of young children, get down on their level by kneeling or even sitting on the floor. The same concept applies for flowers. Unless you're photographing exceptionally tall plants, such as full grown sunflowers, you're going to have to get down a little bit.
Resist the urge to zoom in on your flower subject and physically move closer to it. If you're using a smartphone or point and shoot camera, you'll compromise the quality by zooming. If you're using a DSLR with a zoom lens, you'll be able to maximize the potential of the lens by getting closer. Once you are closer, you can determine the right distance and zooming to get the effect that you want (i.e. shallow depth of field).
Fill the Frame
You see tons of flower photographs in which the photographer simply saw a flower that he liked, snapped a picture of it, and moved on. It is likely that this photo is not very well composed and is filled with distracting elements such as people walking on the sidewalk and other nearby plants. Pick a single subject and fill the frame with it so that there is no question what the subject is in your particular shot. If you can't get a desired shot from a given position, move around so that you can fill the frame effectively.
Shoot from Underneath
As people as taller than most plants, it is natural to photograph them from above or from the side. You can bring a refreshing perspective to a flower subject by photographing it from underneath. Don't be afraid to get really low, which may involve lying on the ground, to get the angle that you want. There are some amazing effects that you can achieve when you get that low that are not possible otherwise.
Shoot From Straight Above
Alternatively instead of shooting from underneath or trying to get a creative side angle, shoot directly overhead, looking right down on the flowers. This technique can produce a striking effect that many people find surprising but pleasant.
Isolate the Subject While Paying Attention to the Background
One of the most effective ways to isolate a subject in a photograph is with a shallow depth of field. The blurrier the background, the more the viewer can focus on the subject at hand. As you experiment with depth of field, be conscious of the background.
Even with considerable blurriness, you can still end up with distracting elements, such as bright colors or odd shapes (i.e. a big stick that looks as though it's coming right out of the top of the flower). The background should not distract from the subject. Ideally it can even enhance it.
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Control the Depth of Field
Think about the kind of photo that you're trying to create. Do you want a close up shot with a blurred background? Or do you want a wide angle shot with everything in focus? It is up to you, the photographer, to take control of the depth of field and make the photo that you want. If you are going for a shallow depth of field with a blurred background, make sure that the correct part of the photo is in focus.
Look for Framing Elements or Other Items to Include
A great flower photo does not have to consist solely of a flower or a group of flowers. Are there other elements that would make the picture stronger? For example, maybe you can shoot the flower so that a bridge behind it frames it or you can include the beautiful leaves on the plant. If there is a butterfly, bee, bird, or other animal or insect flying nearby, wait a minute to see if it lands on the flower and capture it in the shot.
Edit in Black and White or Sepia
As most people take pictures of flowers for their brilliant colors, they don't think of editing them in black and white or sepia. While these palettes are not ideal for all flower photos, they are perfect for high contrast compositions. As it is quite simple to edit in black and white and sepia in virtually every photo program, don't be afraid to experiment with these options once in a while. If you aren't satisfied with the results, simply go back to color and try again later with another photo.
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© 2014 Rose Clearfield