It's high summer in many parts of the world, so a great time to work on your plant and flower photography skills now that everything in the garden is lovely. The beauty of garden photography is that you don't need too much in the way of specialist lenses or equipment, and even if you live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of a city, public parks are gardens are not usually too far away. Read on for some blooming brilliant photography tips!
1) Get the timing right
Shadows cast on the blue petals have spoiled this shot
In high summer, the light can be very harsh on a cloudless sunny day, so as with landscape photography, it makes sense to do your photography as early as possible. The light is lovely and mellow first thing, and you won't need to use a reflector so much to reduce the impact of harsh shadows. Apart from harsh light, the other big headache is the breeze, so invest in a Wimberley Plamp to keep the flowers still, or a similar device.
2) Use a tripod
While you might not want to lug your tripod around the garden, they help you to fine tune your composition and experiment with creative effects, such as shooting with a very narrow aperture for maximum depth of field. They also free-up one of your hands so you can use a reflector to bounce nice light back on to the petals. Consider using a scrim too, which softens the light and makes your subjects appear to glow.
3) Be a perfectionist
While it can take you longer, it's well worth seeking out perfect specimens – or as perfect as you can find. Damaged petals, whether damaged by water or the effects of insects, will be painfully obvious if you are shooting close up, and can take ages to fix in Photoshop.
4) Shoot from a variety of angles
Flower and plant photography is not just about close-ups with macro lenses. If you wish to sell your garden images, or promote them on your blog, it's best to get a range of perspectives, from an opening 'establishing' shot to a very detailed close-up. It is a good idea to shoot flowerbeds at an angle when using a zoom lens; this will compress the border and make plants in the background appear further forward. If you are taking a wider angle shot of a large expanse of garden, consider adding some kind of attractive foreground interest to lead the eye in – but make sure it's not distracting clutter like garden rubbish!
5) Choose your lenses carefully
A couple of zoom lenses, covering both wide angle to medium telephoto up to 200mm, should suffice for general garden images. For flower close-ups, a 100mm to 200mm macro lens fits the bill. When using a zoom lens, try using its widest aperture, then extending the zoom to its greatest length. This will give you the smallest depth of field possible with that lens and can lead to some very creative photographs.