Flowers are some of the best subjects for photography. They are beautiful and lend themselves well for shooting. Flower photography is a vast domain in itself and every photographer indulges in it sometime or the other. Here are a few pointers for you to improve your shots in this domain.
If you search around the Internet for flower photographs, you will find that there are more average shots than the really good ones. The problem is that flowers are beautiful things in themselves, so even a moderately well done shot looks nice. Flowers are common objects too, hence the number of average to good flower-shots are dime-a-dozen. However, shots that truly stand out are comparatively few. I have had my share of them all. In this post I will be talking about the factors which I feel are required to get striking flower shots.
1. Use a Macro Lens
Although any lens can be used for shooting flowers, best results are usually obtained by using macro lenses only. The reason for this is the fact that flowers are relatively smaller objects and macro lenses are best suited for close-up shots. It is also true that close-up shots which are really “into” the flower are the ones which are outstanding.
2. Keep Your Shot Clutter-Free
Unless, you want to portray a bunch of flowers or an assortment of various flowers, you are better off with a close-up of a single flower. And if it is not a macro shot, it is essential that you keep your frame clutter-free. You do not need any other distractions. The negative space will do wonders to your overall shot. If you are shooting the flower indoors, it may be easier to provide a clean background. If you happen to be in garden, you can move yourself or you can even use a shallow depth of field using a larger aperture.
3. Placement / Composition
If you place the flower dead in the center of the frame, your shot may not be attractive. Place it off-center using either the Rule of Thirds or the Golden Triangle and you will immediately notice the shift of perspective. The viewers’ eyes generally tend to rest on the points provided by these two rules. You can make your shot aesthetically more pleasing if you position the flower at the intersecting lines.
4. Quality of Light
It’s best to have soft light to shoot flowers. Soft light is usually produced via a filter. It can be a natural filter like clouds on an overcast day. Or it can be artificial filters in a studio. Soft light tends to be more evenly distributed and does not produce harsh shadows. Thus there is low contrast and a low dynamic range. Consequently, the overall image can be easily handled by the camera’s dynamic range capabilities. Soft light also increases the saturation since the filter cuts out the overall amount of light. Early mornings, late evenings and overcast days can produce good shots. Hard light is the direct light which produces harsh shadows and high contrast with low saturation
5. Use a Tripod
Using a tripod is generally a good advice for most situations. Hand-shake can produce unwanted motion which can ruin your shot. Shooting flowers outdoors presents the same challenge. In fact, apart from the shake induced by hand, there is the movement of the flower itself by the wind that you need to take care of. One way to counter this is to wait for intermittent periods of stillness. A tripod is critical if you doing macro shots or using zoom lenses. In these situations, even a small vibration can get magnified to a large extent ruining your shot. Hence, using a tripod supplemented by a cable release shutter can eliminate this problem for you.
6. Color Saturation
While black & white photography has it’s own charm, most of the flower shots are colored. Being flowers, you need good saturation to bring out the beauty and vividness of the subject. There are various ways you can bring out good saturation in your shots. First is to ensure that you are shooting in soft light. Second is to use good lens. Thirdly, you can adjust your camera settings to boost up saturation as well. Fourthly, you can do it in post-production. As always, it is recommended to shoot in RAW format. Shooting in RAW gives you lot of room to maneuver. Regardless of which image-editing program you use, it is strongly recommended that temptation be controlled and not over-do the saturation in order to prevent a garish look to the image.
7. Point of Interest
Having a point of interest always help and flower shots are no exception. The point of interest can be the central stamen, or even an insect. It provides a resting point for the viewer’s eye. It also provides elemental contrast and adds depth in your shot.
8. Use a Dropper
Flowers look good with droplets of water on them. It induces a feeling of freshness and adds to the depth in the photo. If it has rained outside, you can shoot the flowers with water on them. Alternatively, you can use a water dropper to put some droplets on top of them! This is a good trick which will add a whole dimension to your flower shots.
These are some of the aspects of flower photography which can dramatically improve the quality of your shots. They can provide an interesting new perspective to your photos.