Flowers are one of the most popular outdoor subjects in photography. Everybody loves to go out and take pictures of them in their yard, on vacation or as they are out and about. Every photographer that I know has spent time working on their flower photography. They have an incredible variety of colors, shapes, sizes and smells. If only the camera could record smell. Here are 5 tips to help produce better flower images.
1 - Become Eye Level With The Flowers We are accustomed to seeing the world while standing, looking down on flowers as we go about our day. Get down so the flower is at eye level. Get a perspective different from what you and others normally see. When you can show your subject in a different way, it will help to draw the viewer into the image.
When you are working from the same level as the subject you will find the light looks different. There will be varying levels of direct light and shading. Use these differences in lighting to help guide your composition. See how the light is playing on the flower. Don’t be afraid to shoot back into the sun to create a different feel.
2 - Create Contrast Between The Flower And The Background Getting separation between your flower and background will help the flower jump off the page. You don’t want the edges of your subject to fade into the rest of the photo. Images where everything runs together will leave the viewer with a blah kind of feeling.
There are different ways to achieve separation between the subject and background. If your flower is a different color than the background you have separation already. You can also have some directly lit areas and shaded areas creating contrast in the background. When you have no background except the flower itself create as much tonal range in the colors as you can. This makes your focal plane more prominent in the image.
3 - Isolate Elements Within The Flower Flowers have different parts and structures. Isolate these parts in your images. The purpose of a flower is to allow a plant to reproduce. To this end they have various parts to achieve the goal. The stamen is made up of the anther and filament. You also have the pistil made up in part of the stigma and style, which are easily visible. These are the structures in the middle of the flower. Use them as the focal point of your image.
When you photograph these parts you want to get in tight. Use the narrow DoF to your advantage, keeping the subject in focus and softening the rest of the image. Pick one of these structures and focus on it. Use the other parts around it as elements in the composition.
4 - Show The Textures And Shapes In Your Subjects Every part of a flower has its own texture. The petals have little veins running through them. The anthers can have a gritty sand paper look to them. Other parts can be as smooth as silk. Get tight on different parts of your subject to see what they really look like.
There are flowers like the Tulip, which have different colored shapes within them. This feature is at the base of the tulip flower. There are features like those of the Rhododendron having one spotted petal at the rear of the flower. The list is as great as the number of flowers. Try making these features the focal point of your image.
5 - Share Your Work With Others And Ask Questions Showing your work and getting constructive feed back is one of the fastest ways to increase quality. It can be tough to put your work out there for people to comment on. There are still times when I wonder if people are going to see what I saw in an image. Don’t be afraid to show what you have created. Learn from the feedback you get and don’t take things personally.
If you see an image you like and don’t know how it was done try contacting the photographer and asking. I have learned so much from my fellow photographers over the years. I have asked many questions of them. Photographers love to talk about what they do. Reach out and strike up a conversation. You could be surprised how much you learn.
Photographs in this post