Whether your subject is a bedspread of wildflowers blanketing a local hill or a field of tulips rising regally in your backyard, there are a few basic tips that make it easier to capture the beauty of flowers. Knowing which tools to bring with you, shooting flowers from a few interesting angles and selecting the type of flower for your shot will help you snap images that highlight the raw majesty of the natural world.
Tools and Gear
Digital point and shoot cameras and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras with manual controls can both be used effectively to capture the beauty of flowers. Bring the best camera you have with you on your photo shoot. Pack extra batteries, a tripod and an external diffuser flash and reflector, if your camera accommodates external flashes. Bring a combination of short lenses, 50 to 70mm, and longer lenses, 100 to 180mm, if your camera supports detachable lenses. Use shorter lenses to capture flowers up close and longer lenses when you want to include a butterfly or grasshopper in your shot from farther away so as not to disturb the insect sitting on the flower.
Angle and Focus
Experiment with shooting flowers from above as well as below. Get on your stomach and lay your camera flat on the ground looking up at a bed of tulips rising from the ground, for example. Or you can get extremely close to the flower, placing the tip of the lens an inch away from the center of the flower or edge of its leaf. Choose a focal point that interests you, get that spot in focus, then back up a bit to include a little more of the flower, softly out of focus, in your shot. The contrast between a sharp center and gently blurred petals creates an artistic shot that grabs viewers' attention and makes for a compelling photograph.
When viewing a garden in person, all of your senses work together to process the sights, sounds and smells of the garden; when shooting a picture, you need to select an item and isolate it from the other elements in the garden to focus the viewer's attention on an item of interest. Select a flower, leaf or an ivy strand and shoot that. Identify distractions like tools, sheds, shovels and fences and either eliminate them or include them in the shot in a compelling way. Move items when you can or select an angle that eliminates them from your shot. Widen your aperture to decrease the depth of field in your shot, making distractions in front of and behind the flower you choose to focus on out of focus. Move a flower you want to shoot away from a shed or fence and into a pond. Zoom in on the flower, framing it in the corner of the shot with water filling the rest of the frame. Get close enough to highlight the bubbles beading up on the leaves, as an example of a distraction-free, compelling photograph.
Research flowers before you head out to photograph them. Find out which specific types you want to shoot and then go look for those flowers. Photograph them in a nursery or in the wild, but get an idea of what you want and the mood or tone it's capable of setting before you head out. Knowing what your flower looks like ahead of time will help you predetermine vertical or horizontal layout ideas, reducing your time in the field and enabling you capture the flower in an amazing moment of natural light or another unexpected element more easily.
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