Nature photography at home: Flowers
If you own a garden the likelihood is you’ll have some flowers in it. From natives to exotics, they are all candidates for creating eye-catching floral images
What’s the approach?
If you’re into gardening or simply want to increase the photographic potential of your backyard, then it’s well worth sowing wildflower seeds or planting suitable species.
Not only will this increase your subject matter, but it’s also likely to attract a greater range of insects and other wildlife too.
By hosting a variety of species that come into bloom during different months, you can ensure that you have something to photograph throughout the year.
Flower and plant photography presents an ideal opportunity to experiment with composition and try different approaches.
From pin-sharp portraits with diffused backgrounds to more artistic soft focus abstracts, flowers allow you to be more creative with your images.
When’s the best time of day?
Early morning light can be the most attractive of the day. There is also less chance of wind at this time – an important factor when photographing long-stemmed flowers that sway in the slightest of breezes.
However, bear in mind that some flowers won’t be fully open until the sun has been up for a few hours.
On cloudy days it’s possible to shoot very successfully all day, but avoid harsh, direct sunlight, as it creates high-contrast images with ugly shadows.
What gear do I need?
Anything goes lens-wise, from wide-angle to super telephoto. A mid-range telephoto zoom is probably the most useful lens, but a macro is a great lens to create more abstract close-ups and reveal intricate details.
A polarising filter can also be useful to reduce surface glare from reflective petals and foliage.
What’s the best lighting?
Soft overcast light is ideal for revealing detail and prevents issues with harsh shadows or bright hot spots.
Low sunlight can produce very dramatic results when backlighting semi-translucent petals and foliage, especially when shooting towards a dark background.
What settings should I use?
On the whole you don’t need to hurry over your shots, so you can take your time and ‘bracket’ your shots with different aperture settings.
For maximum depth of field set a small aperture of f/16, but for a more artistic, ethereal look to your picture shoot with the lens at maximum aperture so that just part of the flower is in focus.
Providing the flower isn’t moving, you can use a very slow shutter speed if you’re using a tripod.
Use mirror lock-up to prevent internal camera vibrations, and if possible set the ISO to a low setting for noise-free images with optimal quality.
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