How To Photograph Flowers, Part 3

How To Photograph Flowers, Part 3

Let's move on to consider the shot of a single flower head. Much of what we said for the macro, applies here too. You can't get close enough for this type of picture with most point-and-shoot cameras, and you're better off using a tripod. Exposure will be more precise if you use a gray card or take an incident reading. And the picture will often be improved if you can add a crawling critter.

Good focus is still important, but it's not so critical as it was with the macro. The zone of good focus is now a few inches, not just a fraction of an inch. So, while you still want to focus well, you don't need to watch focus so critically.

An added decision for you to make with this type of shot is to consider the direction of light. It's possible to take a very attractive picture with the light in its "usual" position, streaming from behind you toward the flower. But give strong consideration to backlighting - that is - light coming from behind the flower, toward the camera. Since flower petals are usually translucent, backlighting can give them an iridescent glow that accentuates the flower's color and brings it to life.


©NYI

©NYI
How should you decide which light is best? Easy. Walk around the flower, observing how it looks through the viewfinder from different positions. Keep a sharp eye. You may see an appealing shadow from one position, or a glow of iridescence from another. Maybe you can get both together. Walk around, and then shoot from the position that appeals most to your eye.

Two words of warning here. First, when the light comes from behind you, watch your own shadow carefully. Usually, you want to avoid casting a shadow on the flower. Second, when you are shooting with the flower backlit, watch out for flare. You don't want the incoming light to shine directly into your lens producing ghostlike blobs. (You can avoid flare by either positioning your camera so that the light doesn't shine directly into your lens, or by shading the lens with your hand or a hat or any other opaque object. Just be sure that the object is kept out of the image frame.)

There's an additional decision to make when you are shooting a single flower head. How high or low do you want the camera to be? In other words, from what angle do you want to shoot the flower?

Once again, the answer is best determined by your eye. As you walk around the flower to watch the play of light from different sides, also look through the viewfinder to see how it looks from different heights. Don't be lazy. Lie down to see it from a squirrel's-eye view. Stand up and raise your tripod to see it from a bumble-bee's view. Let your eye decide which you prefer.

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