Cameras are so good these days that it’s easy enough to take a good record photo of a flower. But to take a more artistic photo is not so easy, and requires a lot more input from the photographer!
Here are 5 tips on how to make a more creative photograph of a flower.
Simplicity: clutter is not usually a feature of a fine art photograph! Try to simplify your image, in terms of what you include and exclude. Try to isolate your flower against a complementary background, and avoid patches of tangled foliage, dead leaves, twigs, and even plant labels! Sometimes concentrating on just one or two blooms is better than trying to include a lot of different flowers in your photograph.
Background: the background in a flower photograph is just as important as the subject! You could photograph a fabulously exotic flower, but if it was against a messy backdrop, the photo just wouldn’t work. On the other hand, a simple daisy against a beautiful out of focus background can make a stunning image. Look around and find a flower that has a suitable area behind it.
Depth of field: mentioning out of focus backgrounds brings me on to depth of field. It’s best to set your camera to aperture priority mode for photographing flowers. This gives you better control over how much of your background is in sharp focus. Very often an out of focus background will show off your flower to better effect, as a lot of sharp detail in the background can pull the viewer’s eye away from the subject. Setting a wide aperture will help you to achieve this.
Light: bright sunlight can spoil a flower photograph, especially when the sun is right overhead – it’s very harsh, and causes a wide range of contrast between bright highlights and dark shadows. One flower may cast a shadow onto another, or a petal will cast a shadow onto the one below it. Our eyes and brains compensate for differences in brightness range, and we don’t really see this – but the camera will record it, and the result will look patchy and messy. Flower photography is often more successful in bright overcast light, such as the light on a day with a high, thin layer of white cloud, which softens and diffuses the light of the sun.
Viewpoint: if you’re photographing a low-growing flower, try to get down to its level, rather than looking down at it from standing height. This is especially important with some of the first flowers of spring, like snowdrops and crocuses. If you look down at them, you will often see them surrounded by bare earth, which makes a very dark, unflattering backdrop for a fragile flower. But if you lie down and look along at their level, you may be able to set them against an out of focus backdrop of other flowers, or even just grass, which makes a much softer background.
If you’d like to learn more about flower photography, why not sign up for my 4 week course on Creative Flower Photography?
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