- Nature Photography Photo Workshop
- The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife
- Nature Photography Photo Workshop
- National Geographic Simply Beautiful Photographs
- Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams
- Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide
Of all the categories of nature photography, flowers are generally the most accessible to beginners and the easiest to shoot. Great-looking flowers may be in your backyard, down the street at the park or a short drive to the woods. They’re not difficult to find, but you must know when they will be there, as explained in Part 1 of this PhotographyTalk.com article. It also includes a number of tips about shooting macro, or close-up, photography of flowers. Part 2 will focus, instead, on progressively larger flower subjects, from the single flower head to a large field of dazzling color.
The Single Flower Head
Many of the tips and techniques in the macro photography section of Part 1 apply to shooting single flower heads; especially if they are small enough to be photograph in the macro mode of your camera or with macro lenses. Medium to larger size flower heads can be creatively composed with a slight wide-angle lens or a focal length longer than normal. A short zoom, such as a 24–70mm is a good choice. Although these lenses will increase the depth of field to inches from the fraction of an inch for a macro, you still need to use a tripod.
The other primary challenge to any type of flower photography is the light. Typically, the direction of the light is over your shoulder onto the subject. Think outside the box, however, and consider shooting with backlight instead, especially if the flower petals are translucent. As mentioned in a number of PhotographyTalk.com articles, you must move yourself to discover the best angle and light for your photograph. Observe the flower from various angles to discover a special lighting condition that will move your photo into the category of extraordinary.
As you walk around the flower, also look for good high and low angles. From a high angle, the ground around the flower becomes the background. Shooting from a low angle allows you to frame the flower against an opening in the canopy of trees above, for example.
Be conscious of casting your shadow on the flower when the light direction is over your shoulder and lens flare if you are shooting toward the light for a backlighting effect. Lens flare is easily eliminated with a hood, simply positioning your hand, hat or other object, or slightly moving the camera to keep direct light from the lens.
Larger Floral Photography Subjects
If your subject matter is an isolated bed of flowers or a fantastic field of blooms, then both a compact and SLR camera will take excellent photos. The SLR camera will typically produce the sharpest images. A tripod is no longer required and your camera will choose the correct exposure without the need for a separate light meter. You still want to move around a large floral subject to find interesting angles and lighting conditions.
What often distinguishes photos of large displays of flowers from the ordinary is the addition of a complementary or contrasting object. Examples include an adult or child dressed in all white moving through a field of red poppies; a rusty, decaying pump or antique gardening or farm implement as a counterpoint to the explosion of life around it; a single, mature tree; or a garden shed. You can also frame a field of flowers with a distant object or background as an accent: a barn, the edge of a dense forest, a water feature or a spectacular landscape.
Flowers are a category of photography that a photographer of any skill level can start to experience, and experiment with different ideas, immediately.