Sue Barthelow's

Articles For Photographers




Spring Crocus
Spring Crocus

Narcissus Portrait
Narcissus Portrait

Up Close
Up Close

Anemone in Black and White
Anemone in Black and White


Shooting Flowers

by Sue Barthelow

Ah, spring is in the air. The daffodils and other spring bulbs are blooming throughout the foothills. The almond trees have moved beyond their peak bloom, and other trees are joining the cacophony of bloom to overwhelm the senses. Here in the countryside, the wildflowers are popping up, inviting us to come out and enjoy nature.

Being a photographer, you probably have your camera on your mind and, hopefully, in your hand. It's time to take advantage of those lovely spring blossoms; to capture them forever.

So dust off that camera and wake it up from its winter slumber. Here are some tips that may help.

  1. Watch out for the wind. Unless it's the movement you’re trying to capture, you'll get your best images when the air is still.
  2. Use your tripod and self-timer or remote control to get the sharpest images.
  3. Full sunlight brings out the brightest colors and adds contrast to give you highlighted detail. Watch out for dark shadows. You can lighten the shadows using a reflector or fill flash.
  4. If you want to give your flowers a softer look with muted colors, shoot on an overcast day, in the shade, during early morning or after sunset. You may be able boost your colors by changing your camera's optimize image settings to something that will produce more vivid colors (check your camera manual).
  5. Depending on the orientation, the light near sunset can make light colored flowers glow against a darker background.
  6. Use your aperture priority setting. To blur the background, start with an f/5.6 aperture. Move upwards from there to get more and more depth of focus. Anything over f/11 is probably overkill.
  7. Set your color saturation setting to Enhanced.
  8. Use a variety of lens focal lengths. Try everything from wide angle to telephoto. A telephoto lets you step back from the flower and makes it easier to throw the background out of focus.
  9. Try your camera's macro setting and get up close. You can capture an interesting part of a flower that will give you a different type of image.
  10. Shoot in both horizontal and vertical camera positions.
  11. Want to create a portrait? Try placing a black, white or colored backdrop behind a flower to give it that formal, composed look.
  12. Vary your position and look for the most compelling image. You can shoot from below or above the flower. You can shoot from a level straight at it. Sometimes shooting from an off-angle will give you the best image. Watch the light and shadows. Look for an angle that gives you interesting texture or contrast.
  13. Trying to capture a fine art type of image? Get up close and personal. Capture a small area of the flower that provides an interesting feature. Leave or crop out everything except for that intriguing section.
  14. How about something in black and white? Look for color variations that will give you everything from black to white.


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