Flower and nature photography: tips on making your images pop
With spring already here, it’s fun being outdoors and start discovering nature and taking beautiful pictures. As spring flowers start to come out everywhere, it’s easy to take some nice pictures of flowers and gardens, but how do you make your flower photography look amazing?
Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your flower and nature photography and create some fantastic images
Get really close
Get those close up details of a grouping of flowers or even single flower blooms. Using a dedicated macro lens allows for focusing on objects with all the fine details. Another alternative would be to use a telephoto lens with zoom to focus on your subject in a focal range you are happy with.
Cropping out distracting elements
Clear up your background and cluttered distractions by changing positions of where you are taking the photograph. Try to crop out distracting or glaring details in the background and make those compositions tighter. Re-compose your images constantly to find the best compositions, take out unnecessary details and train your eye better to create more interesting viewpoints. Last, don’t be afraid of zooming tighter to get a close-up of your subject, your audience will spend more time looking at all the details in your photograph.
Use a shallow depth of field
Along with cropping out distractions and doing close-up images, changing your f-stop on digital SLR cameras to a shallow depth of field (usually around f2/8 – f/4, anything in a low aperture range) will make the backgrounds blend in and become softer. This in turn creates a pleasing background, and makes the subject pop out from the composition.
Focus on sharpness
If your main focus is on the flower, concentrate on highlighting the key details with your autofocus, and make sure they are spot on sharp. Target your autofocus directly on the main subject and then recompose the image to create a more pleasing composition. Larger groupings will require a bigger aperture like a f/9 to f/11 setting to get all the various details into focus so change your apertures accordingly. For selective focus, try switching to manual mode so you can manually focus sharpness to the appropriate areas of the subject that you want to highlight.
Photograph on cloudy overcast days
Cloudy days are perfect for nature and flower photography because it creates an even filtered light on your subject so this is a great time to work on flowers, nature and isolated outdoor images that you want to capture. Even light compliments the flower details and its delicate features, eliminating harsh shadows or bright hot spots on your subject.
Try for backlighting your images
Backlight happens when the sun is directly in front of you and lights up the subject from behind. Flowers that are delicate and translucent, create a wonderful glow effect that brightens up the subject and creates a dynamic and glowing composition. Just make sure when you try this technique that you avoid any glare or flare-ups occurring to your camera lens and distracts from the overall image.
Try photographing during the ‘Golden Hour’
The early morning or even hours when the sun is close to the horizon presents the best warm light on any subject including plants and flowers. Try shooting during this timeframe when the golden light is happening, it is the best time to be outdoors and find some interesting subjects to photograph. Take the time to study how the light hits your subject, experiment, find the best angles to shoot and your photos will look incredible.
Avoid windy days
Windy days are very difficult to capture detail or macro images of flowers and its best to avoid taking pictures in this condition unless you are going for a different effect on your photography. The best situation is to take pictures of your subject in a protected area away from the wind or try a different timeframes (like mornings) when the wind factor is minimized. Last, take photos of your subject indoors if you can bring your arrangements or any subject indoors.
Create a different viewpoint
Trying different angles and perspective will create more interesting and dynamic imagery to your subject. Photographing flowers from above, the bottom, behind, backlit or any other interesting angles will create a different take from the typical formats and will create better presentations. This is a great way to experiment and train your eye to see things differently and create unusual or interesting viewpoints with your photography.
Light it up
Any flowers that are in shade or in boring flat light can be lit up using reflectors or flash to add highlights and depth to the subject. Try to find the right balance of shade and light to best focus on your subject matter whether it is lit naturally or with other tools to highlight your subject.
This is a great time to be outdoors and enjoy nature, wildflowers or the beauty of a garden. Go outside, find something inspiring and enjoy experimenting with your camera. Try out any combinations of the techniques and tips mentioned above and your presentation and photography skills will improve. Last, take a look at this earlier post I wrote earlier focusing on general tips on travel photography, using your camera and composition.
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