Out of all, the genres of photography is nature photography. Even photography, flower photography is one of the areas that attract so many people from experts and amateurs alike. It’s easy and challenging; it’s a place where you can run wild with your creativity, whether you’re a noob or a seasoned pro.
Without beating around the bush, let us jump right into how you can go from zero to hero relatively quickly. But that doesn’t rule out the need for practice. Here’s a free tip: read less online suggestions and get your hands dirty right away. You’ll make mistakes, but they’re going to be worth it.
20 Tips for Amazing Flower Photography
1. Choice of Lens
The usage of lens predominantly affects your style of flower photography and dramatically changes the resulting picture. Using a macro lens may allow you to get very close to the subject of choice and have a shallow depth of field. You can use prime lenses because they have wider apertures, are lighter, and higher clarity than telephoto lenses.
You can also use a telephoto lens for macro effects, from far away. You must be careful with the size of the aperture of the lens while using a macro lens as using an extensive aperture will lead to even some parts of a particular flower not being in focus; it is a creator’s place, and there’s no wrong or right.
2. Focal Length
You can shoot complete or tight. In technical terms, you can shoot at a shorter focal length or a longer focal length. A wider focal length like 35mm will give a wider field of view. On using a tighter focal length like 200mm, the image will appear flattered, and the background will seem very close to the subject, which is called background compression; the tighter the focal length, the more the reduction and more stretched the background will appear.
Doing flower photography from a distance using a long focal length is useful if you can’t get too close, and it gives you a better-blurred background.
3. Aperture Size/F-Stop
The larger the aperture, the lower depth of field your photo will have. In other terms, the better will be the subject of background isolation. You’ll have a beautifully blurred background, which is often subconsciously equated with high-quality photos.
Focusing on the flower part should be done with care at wider apertures as the focal plane becomes very thin, and manual focus should be the preference for pros as the autofocus could falter or not focus where you exactly want it to.
You can also use an ND filter or a Neutral Density filter to make your image darker so that you can open up your aperture more without blowing up the image. This helps in achieving better bokeh in your shot, making it even more professional.
4. Shutter Speed
Using a fast shutter speed allows you to avoid camera shake, making the photo a lot crisper, and is used with wide apertures. This also solves the problem of flowers swaying in the wind. Using a fast shutter speed lets light in for a smaller instant; hence the sway is not apparent at sufficiently high shutter speeds.
Make it a point that your shutter speed should not be lesser than the inverse of the focal length of your lens. If you’re using a 50millimeter lens, the minimum shutter speed you should use is 1/50, for avoiding camera shake. Using in-body stabilization or lens stabilization helps to push the limits a bit more.
5. Low Angle
If you remember as a kid everything appeared bigger than you, and you used to be amused by everything around you. Wanna bring a similar feeling in your flower photography? Get low, as simple as that. Take photos from a low angle which makes everything seem more prominent and more wonderful. Our brains are trained this way, and it’s a neat psychological trick to up your flower photography game.
6. Creativity in Composition
Get creative; don’t be afraid to break conventional photography. Remember, the only rule that matters is that your flower photography should attract and speak to your audience. Rules don’t matter. But before you go breaking all the rules in the market, you must learn to use and manipulate the rules before taking matters into your own hands.
7. The Rule of Thirds
Imagine breaking up your frame in nine squares like a tic tac board. See those four intersecting points in your frame? Well, those are the points where our eyes naturally gravitate to when looking at a photograph, so placing points of interest on or near those intersecting points ups your flower photography game by a ton. For example, positioning the central portion of the flower containing the androecium and gynoecium can be put at an intersecting point instead of the frame’s center to make the photo look better.
8. Shoot RAW
This is obvious for those pros reading this article for some reason. Still, for those noobs who wanna get better at flower photography, or photography in general, this will come in handy. Don’t shoot JPEG.
Not enough space? Get extra memory cards, but shoot RAW. RAW preserves all the details that the sensor has captured and gives incredible flexibility in post.
You can shoot 12 bit compressed or 14 bit uncompressed RAW, there are huge, but worth it, every time. JPEGs are compressed images, and this compression is glossy, which means a lot of the original data is lost trying to make the file size smaller, and a lot of the RAW file’s metadata is discarded. You don’t want that, do you? You’d like full control over what is captured and preserved.
9. Post Processing
This perfectly segues us into post-processing the photos we take. Before you are screaming and head for the comment section, lemme tell you, this isn’t the same as editing an image in photoshop, where you’re changing the pixel values and performing destructive editing or manipulating the image. Use any non-destructive editing software like Adobe Lightroom or Luminar.
Correct the exposure, maybe reduce the blown-up portions and boost the shadows, use a little radial mask here, or a linear mask there, whatever you do, don’t go ham. A professional edit shouldn’t look like we have edited the photo; subtlety is the name of the game.
Do it properly, and your flower photography will quickly level up. Shooting a wonderful photo is as important as learning to correctly post-process your image. But it is a creative field, and it all depends on your taste; remember to draw the line at reasonable levels, and you should be fine.
10. Make it Rain
No, get a water spray and spray some on your favorite flowers. Water droplets on the flower petals completely put your flower photography in another league. I can tell you’re already imagining how it’s going to look; it looks like dew on a chilly morning. Don’t drench your flowers, though, have fun!
11. Sunny Side Up
Get creative, use the sun in your flower photography. Have you ever seen sunbeam shining through foliage? Well, if the situation permits, use the sun as a creative backdrop, make the sun’s rays shine through the petals or leaves of whatever you’re shooting, and this should look amazing if you’ve correctly exposed your photo.
Remember the droplets? You can also creatively use the sun’s rays hitting the droplets to create mini rainbows in your photos.
Buy a long triangular prism from any major online retailer. During the day, or the night, hold the prism very close to your lens, shoot the flower, change angles of your prism, and try different angles.
You’ll notice beautiful rainbows and color splashing all over your frame. It’s much better to do it this way than using photoshop, and also looks more attractive and pushes your flower photography game to more pro levels.
13. Golden Hour
Golden hour is that period just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sunlight gets redder than usual, and the light appears golden. Photographers and cinematographers alike excessively covet this period.
Flower photography or any photography dramatically depends on the lighting, especially the white balance. Golden hour photography makes everything look regal. Shoot your flowers in this period, and your flower photography would reach another level.
14. Block the Wind
Let’s face it, wind can pretty ruin your flower photography unless you have breakneck shutter speeds. Not something you’d want to be dealing with on your shoot. Get something to block the wind, ask a friend to hold a piece of cardboard or only anything to block out the wind.
This would allow you to lower the shutter speed and use a speed that you like and not be forced to choose settings depending on the wind speed in that area.
15. Use Live View
Use the live view in your camera to know exactly which parts of the frame you’re focusing on. Because flower photography involves wide apertures, the depth of focus is usually low, and using the eyepiece to nail the focus is often hard for flower photography.
Use a larger display, like an external monitor, or if you think it’s crazy, use the live view mode to get the image on your camera’s back screen. Use manual focus, and you have a high chance of nailing that focus perfectly.
16. Artificial Lighting
Now we all don’t live in California, where the golden hour really looks golden. So, what do we do? We use artificial lights. Use a key light and a fill light. A key light lights up your primary subject, and fill light is used to light up the background to provide an interesting combination of light and shadow.
Remember to use a softbox with your key light to diffuse the light coming out from your source. Never use harsh lighting, as the hard shadow lines are not pleasing to the eye. Exceptions could exist, as flower photography is a creative field.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This mode of photography takes multiple photos at different exposure levels and performs computational photography. In simple terms, it uses advanced machine learning algorithms to detect highlights and shadows and mid-tones from the different frames and intelligently combine them to create one photograph with properly exposed highlights and shadows and mid-tones, a photo with extended dynamic range.
This mode is more applicable for phone photography than pro photography because you can manually do most of this if you have a RAW file.
Often, flowers have exciting patterns on the petals’ underside, or in other cases, the petals are translucent. Using backlighting, you can take advantage of this and create fascinating photos.
Shine a diffused light on the flower’s underside sons a file’s metadata colors shine through. This is another path to take if you want to improve your flower photography.
Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese word for beauty in imperfection and impermanence. Using this concept in flower photography, you can shoot flowers in different stages of their development. Take creative pictures of flowers while they’re drying up or drooping, use all the concepts mentioned above, and use your creativity to bring out the beauty in the imperfectness of nature.
Nothing lasts, nothing is permanent, and everything within nature is beautiful, notwithstanding their age. This goes against traditional flower photography, where you only take pictures of the most pretty or exotic flowers in full bloom. Anything that is born will die, it’s part of a cycle, and every stage has its importance in the cycle, and we must uphold all the beauty, not only when the flower is at its prime.
20. Take Lots of Shots and Don’t Delete them
Look, let’s be frank. We’ve all deleted photos from inside our camera after taking the shot, thinking it doesn’t live up to our expectations. I know I told you to use a live view, but that display is not big by any means. Never delete a photo from inside a camera. Always transfer your photos to your desktop or laptop and view them using a larger screen before taking any action.
Also, take lots of shots from different angles and lighting conditions to your heart’s content, buy some bigger memory cards but never judge the quality of photos from the tiny display attached to your camera. Never shy away from taking lots of photos, because the regret of not having to take a particular shot in this way or that can be huge later on when you sit down to reflect.
If you love photography here’s an article to read about street photography: https://www.icytales.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-street-photography/
Phew, that’s it for today; I hope I could give you some sign as to how to improve your flower photography. While knowledge of these techniques will help you, there is no alternative to practice, use these tips, practice lots, and lots. Remember, read less, do more.