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Flower Photography Tips

How to take better Flower Photographs by Tony Howell

Plant Photography
Get up early - before the sun heats up the land there is usually far less wind,
enabling you to get close without risk of your 'daffodils dancing in the breeze',
causing blur. Also, there is often dew on the plants (or frost in winter), which can add another dimension to your pictures
Plant Photography

Don't take flower pictures in direct sunlight - this is the most common mistake that beginners make. Plants look great in the sun with the naked eye, but neither film or digital can cope with the increased contrast. Overcast conditions are usually best, colours then saturate and your pictures will still look really bright, but even more colourful. There are exceptions to this though - for example, sunlight can create dark shadows behind your sunlit subject, creating an excellent non-distracting background. If you are going to take plant pictures in sunlight, try using a polarising filter to reduce glare and enhance the colours.

  Use Lower ISO settings on your Digital Camera - To get the lowest noise, most digital cameras work best at ISO100, so use this setting and a tripod for best results. You don't want to take a great image, only to find the noise unacceptable - especially if you want to try and sell your images, or get them published  

Get a 1:1 Macro lens - if you want to get close, to really show the amazing form of plants in their full glory, you need the right lens for the job. The Tamron 90mm is an excellent lens that comes highly recommended and fits most SLR's. I've used one for many years

  Use a tripod - getting close increases the chance of camera shake, so it's best to use a tripod whenever possible. It also slows down the picture-taking process, which means you have more time to concentrate on the composition  

Ignore the 'everything must be pin-sharp' rule - you may have read in photo magazines that all close-up pictures must be pin-sharp. Hopefully you'll have noticed by looking at some of the photos on display here, that plant images can often look really good with only a small amount of the image actually in focus. Obviously, some pictures do look better sharp all over - experiment and practice

  Blur your backgrounds - use a large aperture (small number like f5.6) to avoid
fussy, distracting backgrounds. The Kaffir Lily pictures below prove the point. However, using your camera's depth of field preview feature is the best way to ensure that you've blurred the background - and still got enough of the plant in focus

Small Aperture - f16
Lot's in focus, but if you don't want that...
Large Aperture - f5.6
Makes the subject stand out,
background is out of focus

The strength of the image below is in it's blurred background; soft, undistracting, good colour, obvious
that it's more of the same flowers at a distance and tones balanced perfectly with the main subject

Flower Photography

The image below required a small aperture (f16) to get as much in focus as possible. Using a small
aperture means you have to use a slower shutter speed, so watch out for camera shake, or do
what the professionals do - use a tripod

Please do not contact us with questions regarding photography techniques, as due to the high volume of emails received daily,
we're sorry to say that you may not receive a reply

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