NO, I was WRONG.
In fact, you don’t even need to read this post if you just want to take ordinary picture of flowers. The skills and the gears you have are already enough. However, if you want to take GREAT picture of flowers there are some works we need to do. So in this post, I’ve sum up what I’ve learnt over the years and listed them below so that YOU know exactly how to take great picture of flowers next time when you go on a photo shoot. Enjoy!
1) The best light to take great picture of flowers
a. Just after rain – If the golden hour is best for landscape photography, then right after a rainy day is the best time for flower photography. This is the moment the sky is still cloudy with sun-rays shining through gaps of the clouds (if you want to use that as a background). Most importantly, raindrops are still on the petals of the flowers and this is the time to pull out your DSLR to take pictures.
b. Sunny day – Similar to landscape photography; try to take pictures during early morning or early evening. You can use the backlit and silhouette techniques that I talked about here. If you have a macro lens or a zoom lens, zoom in closer for greater effect.
c. Overcast day – If you read other photography articles they tend to say overcast day is the best to take great picture of flowers. Even though this is true but I prefer shooting just after rain or a sunny day on top of an overcast sky. During this time the sun is behind clouds therefore it works like a translucent reflector that you shine through with a light source. It is great since the color of the flowers don’t have direct contact with harsh light you get on a bright sunny afternoon day and you can capture the rich color of the flowers during this time.
d. Light box on black and white background – If you have the flowers at home this is the time to do some light box flower photography. It’s pretty simple to create a lightbox (great article here http://www.instructables.com/id/Photography-Light-Box/). All you need to do is then to place a white or black single color background to for dramatic result. If you’re wondering what the flower photo will look like check out 6 in this post.
e. Window light – The soft white light that comes from window is another source for great light to use. Just place the flower next to the window, place it in front of a background that has single color (again either black or white) then snap the shot. It’ll look great!
2) The best camera gear to take great picture of flowers
a. Lensbaby – If you are wondering what a Lensbaby is, check this post. The featured image in this blog post was done with my lensbaby composer with my Canon 5dMK II. The step I took was I first put the f2.8 aperture blade to the lensbaby (since you need to change the aperture manually with this lens), focus the lensbaby to the bottom right hand corner which is the flower then took the shot. It took only 30 seconds to do this and the result was amazing.
b. Macro lens – If you ever want to know how photographers can capture a bee that takes up 2/3 of the photograph, it’s because they used a Macro lens. This lens allows you to get 1:1 ratio view of your subject for close up shots. Use that for shooting flowers and you can basically see the details of each petal of the flower.
c. Close-up lens – Ok, the cost of a Macro lens is not cheap. So the alternative option is to get a close-up lens. It looks just like a lens filter but a lot thicker and it allows you to zoom in to the subject for a similar macro shot. It cost significantly less and weight basically nothing. If macro lens is not an option for you I highly recommend you getting the close-up lens.
d. Zoom lens 70-200 f2.8L – For versatility (one that can take portrait as well as close up shots) then the 70-200mm lens is your best option. Even though it cannot get the 1:1 ratio but you can zoom in enough to take a similar macro shot. The lens is not cheap but you can use it for both portrait and macro photography if done probably. Personally I prefer this lens to the macro and the close-up lens because of the versatility.
3) The best way to handle unforeseen nature circumstances to take great picture of flowers
a. Fake the rain – In section 1a I talked about taking great picture of flowers just after a rainy day. What happen if there is not rain that day and you are out at the field shooting? Well, you can fake it! Bring a spray bottle with you or just a bottle of water and spray your magic for the shot!
b. Join with the wind – I was just trying to make this a catchy title so it sounds like “gone with the wind”…anyway, if you are out shooting you often will find winds starts to blow everywhere as soon as you are ready to take the shot. I literally mean as soon as you finished setting up your tripod, focused to the flower and ready to press the shutter release button wind starts to blow.
One way to counter this is to use a faster shutter speed. But sometimes when the wind is too strong to get a shape picture what should you do? Yes, join them…to the dark side. Since you cannot get a clear shot anyway why not take picture of flowers that was wind-blowing effect. To take this even further, why not take a whole field of flowers when wind is blowing everywhere. It can make a dramatic shot.
c. Tripod and wireless trigger are your best friends – I put this last because it’s the most obvious. Without bringing a tripod to shoot flowers it is the same thing as you jumping on trampoline taking portrait pictures. There is no way you can hand hold and take great picture of flowers. The tripod and wireless triggers that I am using are this and this. Bring them with you because they are your best friends.
4) The best location to take great picture of flowers
a. Local florist – Don’t ignore the local florist is the most powerful location near home that you can get flowers. Buy the flowers and take them home so you can take as long and as many picture as you want. Instead of finding a great location and using gas money to drive there for the photo shoot, why not spend 15-20 for some flowers and take pictures at home with a cup of coffee.
b. Botanical garden – Another great place to take great picture of flowers is at the botanical garden. There you will find all kinds of flowers to take pictures from. If this is not an option for you in the city that you live, try below…
c. Check iphone apps – A powerful tool that I find is called “stuck on earth”. There you can find great locations to take pictures in any location on earth. I used this app to find a nearby park that I don’t even know existed and took some great pictures from it. You can also read my post here for a list of other useful applications.
5) The best composition to take great picture of flowers
a. Shoot from flower level, don’t shoot down – A big tip I want you to take away form is don’t shoot down on flowers. Because this is what an average person will do. Instead, get low and shoot from the flower level and you will start to see some interest visual effect. If that means you need to lay down on dirty ground that you will have to do what it takes to get a good shot. It is worth it.
b. Shoot only a portion of the flower. – In photography sometimes you don’t need to capture the whole picture for the view to see the big picture. Once a while you can capture part of your story (in this case the flower) for a dynamic feel of your photograph. Use your lensbaby, macro lens, close-up lens, or the 70-200 to take the shot. No special techniques required.
What are some of your favorite tip of taking great picture of flowers? Share them below!