- Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis
- Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers
- Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- Close-Up & Macro Photography (Expanded Guide: Techniques)
- Learn & Master Photography
- Understanding Close-Up Photography: Creative Close Encounters with Or Without a Macro Lens
- David Busch's Close-Up and Macro Photography Compact Field Guide
Flower photography is a great starting point to learn how to capture the beauty of nature without having to trek into the backcountry or waiting hours (or days) for wildlife to wander into range of your camera. There are just enough natural elements—mainly wind and light—to challenge and improve your photography skills. Taking pictures of flowers also provides lessons in close-up photography and composition. This two-part PhotographyTalk.com article presents a number of tips and techniques that will help you create rather extraordinary images of some of nature’s most colorful and interesting botanical species.
Your immediate consideration is what flowers grow in your area of the world, and during which seasons. This may require a bit of research on your part. Visit the Web sites of local and state parks and forestry departments, county extension organizations, wildflower groups, etc. for good information. You won’t be wasting your time wandering throughout your neighborhood, local parks, botanical gardens or the woods hoping to spot flowers to photograph.
Many plants flower for very short periods of time, so you must know when they will. Various species also only flower during specific seasons, so don’t automatically assume that spring is the “right” or “best” flower photography time of the year. You’ll have the advantage of being able to record images of the rarer flowers in your area because you know when and where to find them. There are also many excellent flower subjects that you can photograph in nurseries, arboretums, hothouses, etc. In fact, these may be the best places to start because you’ll be shooting in a controlled environment.
Macro Flower Photos
There is a great range of flower subjects you can photograph, from an endless field of tulips to a small bed of a few plants to a single flower to just a petal or its other parts, such as the stamen.
The opportunity to shoot close-up, or macro, photography is one of the reasons so many photographers are attracted to this broad topic. To take macros, you need a camera with a macro mode and/or one with interchangeable lenses, so you can use macro lens. Many compact cameras have a macro mode, or accept macro lens attachments. For more information about shooting macro photography with a compact camera, read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Photography—How to Shoot Macro Photos with Your Point-and-Shoot Camera.
One of the problems with shooting close-ups with a compact camera is that it’s difficult to make sure the subject is centered if you use the viewfinder to frame your subject. A better option is to use the camera’s LCD viewing panel. You won’t face this problem with a SLR camera, which, ultimately, makes it preferable for macro photography. You simply have more control and can be more creative. A tripod is also a requirement for macro photography. The depth of field, or plane of focus, is less than an inch, so it’s nearly impossible to hand hold your camera and keep the subject in focus, especially if it is only part of a flower.
Another challenge to consider when photographing flowers outdoors (regardless of the camera and lens) is the wind. The smart move is to check the weather report or other sources to determine if the day is forecast to be windy before you walk into the park or woods. If you’re already on location and a strong wind suddenly starts to blow, moving the flower or flowers you are trying to shoot, then you may have to wait until another day. You can also try to erect a temporary barrier around the flower, but it’s unlikely you’ll be carrying any materials that will help you build one on the spur of the moment. Plus, it may be difficult to photograph the flower without showing the barrier.
All nature photography requires a great deal of patience because you don’t have total control of the environment. Your patience will be truly tested if your goal is to capture an insect (bee, spider or butterfly) in or on that flower, but that will transform the typical close-up photo of a flower into an extraordinary image.