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Do you struggle to capture amazing photos of flowers? The kind that will absolutely stun your viewers? While it might seem difficult, taking stunning flower photos is actually fairly easy–if you know what to do. In this article, I’ll share 6 tips for flower photography that will practically guarantee amazing flower photos.
Are you ready to take your flower photos to the next level? Let’s get started.
Flower photography is all about getting close. So once you’ve found a subject, get close. And keep getting closer. Here’s why:
The closer you get to your subject, the more unique your perspective. You’ll show viewers something that they’ve never seen before–and that will add a whole new dimension to your flower photography. Now, professional macro photographers use dedicated macro photography lenses to magnify their subjects. But this isn’t a requirement.
You can use any lens that lets you get close. Telephoto lenses often work well, here. But some wide-angle lenses focus close, as well.
One more recommendation: Experiment with different photography composition from all different angles. Let me explain:
Once you’ve found a flower, take a shot from the distance. That way, you’ll have a record shot of the flower.
But then…Move in closer. Take a nice portrait of the flower. Next, go even closer for a detailed image. Focus on the most interesting aspects of the flower: the petals, the center, and even the stem. And finally, get as close as you can, and take a gorgeous abstract shot.
Good flower photography starts with light. So…
If you want beautiful flower photos, you’ve got to learn about different lighting scenarios. Fortunately, this is less complicated than it sounds. Because there is one type of light that’s absolutely fantastic for flower photography: Soft, cloudy light.
You see, harsh sunlight is terrible for macro photography. It’s bright, it’s contrast-heavy, and it causes all sorts of problems for flower photos. So never photograph flowers at noon on a sunny day. The light is terrible.
But when the clouds roll in…That’s when the light gets wonderfully soft. The clouds diffuse the light and leave you with something beautiful.
One of the great things about cloudy light is that it enhances colors for macro photography subjects. The diffused light will make your flowers look more saturated–which looks pretty great!
In flower photography, I advocate creating artistic images. And one of the best ways to create artistic image is to create a gorgeous soft-focus look. Like this:
Notice the way the image fades in and out of focus. It’s actually a simple effect to reproduce–you just need to use a wide aperture. Specifically, I recommend choosing an f-stop between f/2.8 and f/5.6. And I also recommend getting as close as you can. This will ensure an ultra-narrow depth of field, with a razor-thin point of focus. It will also create a deeply blurred background, which will enhance the soft-focus effect.
If you’re struggling to create pleasing soft-focus images, I recommend switching to manual focus. This will give you far more control over your photo; you’ll be able to easily choose the area in the photo that is sharp. Regardless, don’t be afraid to experiment with different wide apertures and different points of focus. Abstract flower photography is all about experimentation!
I’ve talked about the beauty of cloudy light for flower photography. But it turns out that there’s actually one other type of light that works great for flower photography: Golden-hour light.
The golden hours are the hours just after sunrise and just before sunset. During these times, the sun is low in the sky, and it casts a gorgeous golden glow over the entire scene.
Now, while golden-hour lighting is excellent for macro photography, you need to be careful. You see, when the sun is low in the sky, it has directionality; that is, it shines on your subjects from different directions. And different directions will give you different effects, some of which are better than others.
In general, there are three types of directional light:
I recommend front light as a flower photography go-to. It will evenly illuminate your subject without overpowering it. But sidelight can create a darker, more dramatic look. And backlight will give you some artistic effects, if you can deal with its intensity!
Backgrounds are one of the most underrated elements of macro photography. Because an amazing background will greatly enhance your flower photo. But a poor background will just cause problems.
Now, the best backgrounds are uniform, smooth, and non-distracting. They help the main subject stand out. And the best backgrounds actually enhance the photo–by adding a splash of color to the image.
So how do you create a beautiful background? As mentioned above, you should use a narrow aperture to guarantee a blurry background. The blur with increase the overall uniformity of the backdrop, which is exactly what you want.
But you should also increase the subject to background distance. In other words, you should make sure that your subject is far from the background. Why? The farther the background is from your subject, the deeper the extent of the background blur. And the better the blur, the better the background.
For instance, I captured this photo by ensuring a good subject to background separation:
Here’s what I recommend:
Once you’ve found your main subject, observe it from different angles. Get down low to the ground. Move to the side. Eventually, you’ll find an angle that gives you a beautiful background–one that’s nice, smooth, and helps your subject stand out.
Here’s one last flower photography tip for you:
If you really want your photo to stand out you’ve got to carefully arrange your subject in the frame. That is, you must make sure that your subject is positioned in the best place possible–so that it stands out, and draws the eye. One of the best ways to do this is to use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds suggests that you position your subject about a third of the way into the frame, like this:
But the rule of thirds isn’t the only way to make your subject stand out. You can also put empty space (also known as ‘negative space’) around your main subject, thereby directing the viewer straight toward the focal point. This is especially effective if your subject is small in the frame.
The bottom line? If you take your time with your photography composition, you can capture a truly stunning flower photo.
Capturing amazing flower photos doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it’s often easy! And if you follow the tips I’ve laid out above you’ll be taking amazing flower photos in no time!
Feel free to share your own tips about capturing creative flower photography in the comments below.
Jaymes is a nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Mi. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out Jaymes's free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets for Stunning Nature Photos!