How To Photograph Flowers, Part 5

How To Photograph Flowers, Part 5

©NYI Student Lukas Forejt

El Nino or not, it's springtime in the Northern Hemisphere and the tulips and daffodils are poking up around our toes. The magnolias are ready to pop and the cherry blossoms aren't far behind.

No matter where in the world you live, it's time to grab your camera, don your raincoat, and get out there among the beautiful spring flowers. (Okay, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, it won't be spring for six months. But let's not quibble.)

Before we get into some Advanced Techniques you can use in your photographs of flowers, if you haven't done so yet we suggest you review the Basics of Flower Photography presented in last month's article "How to Take Great Photographs of Flowers." If you've never read that article, do so now. It's full of Basic Concepts on which we're going to expand in this article. Read it... then come back!

©NYI Student Brett S. Olson
Okay. Now that you've read or reviewed that article, let's move on and look at some other things you can do.

When we photograph a flower close up - whether growing in a garden or peeking out of a vase - we often use selective focus. In other words, we shoot with a wide aperture (low f-number) to throw the background out of focus so it doesn't distract attention from the flower. This is a common technique that usually renders the background in muted green (of other plants) or blue (of the sky).

But the background need not be confined to these muted colors. It's possible to add drama and a sense of the unexpected by inserting a different type of background into the photograph, like this:

These graceful white lilies pop out in this photograph because of the deep red background. Are these lilies in a garden or a vase? We don't know. All we see are the flowers against the solid-colored background.

How can you produce such a solid-colored background in your flower pictures? Simple. Place a colored panel behind the flowers! A panel of photographic seamless paper. A panel of art-supply construction paper. A panel made from a sheet or pillowcase. Anything. Choose the color you like - and place it as a panel behind the flowers. Indoors, you may need some tape or thumbtacks to fasten your background to a wall. Outdoors, you may be able to prop your background up against other flowers in the garden...or you may have a friend or assistant hold it in place.

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