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Flowers are some of Mother Earth’s most breathtaking creations. They are radiant, lavishly elegant, exotic, vibrant, and attractive to the eye in all of their forms. Interestingly, the beauty of flowers is an inherent trait that cues pollinators about the rewards found within. Humans are drawn to flowers, whether we use them for medicinal purposes, decoration, or simply boosting our moods.
Flowers are a favorite subject amongst photographers, who go to great lengths to capture their garden-fresh fragrance and idyllic nature through their photos. Flower photography is an art and requires skill and creativity to produce eye-catching images. This genre is also accessible to beginners, especially since all you have to do to find breathtaking subjects is step out into your backyard or public garden. If you’re interested in photographing the beauty of flowers, consider the following ideas to elevate your pictures and capture moments that fulfill your creative visions.
A windy day is the sworn enemy of many photographers, with one heavy gust often ruining what may otherwise be the perfect shot. However, wind can be used to your advantage and produce more artistic images that capture the illusion of motion. This technique works best when photographing a group of flowers, such as cherry blossoms bursting open on the delicate branches of a tree or a group of wildflowers. Using a relatively slow shutter speed, you can capture a dynamic image that shows how the flowers dance gracefully at the wind’s will.
The widespread accessibility of flowers makes them the perfect subjects for improving your macro photography. Increasing the magnification of your photo is an easy way to add an abstract element that draws the attention and interest of many. In many ways, macro photography is an art form and allows us to see things we typically wouldn’t with the naked eye. Flowers are beautiful from far away, but they hide so many details that people always miss. The macro world offers endless photographic opportunities and is a great way to add volume, dimension, and visual interest to flowers that may otherwise look flat or dull.
Although a single flower is gorgeous on its own, sometimes, elevating your photos is as easy as stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. The possibilities are almost endless, from coastal meadows, grassy seaside cliffs, sunflower fields, and rows upon rows of colorful tulips. Flowers also provide an interesting, eye-catching, and colorful foreground that draws the eye to other subjects in the photo. When photographed together, you can capture how the elements of nature interact and play with each other for an impressive photo loaded with texture, color, and geometric interest.
One of the easiest ways to elevate your photos is just to add water! You can accomplish this by going out after a rainstorm or during the morning dawn when dew is still present. You can also cheat your way to capturing a stunning photo by spraying your subject with a water mister or spray bottle yourself. Water droplets tend to reflect light in a unique way, giving your flowers an ethereal, glimmering effect and highlighting their delicacy. They can also create individual reflections and distortions that add eye-catching details to your photos.
Sunlight is a powerful tool for ensuring your photos reach their full potential. Capturing the light streaming through a flower’s fragile petals can highlight their delicate and fragile nature. The same light glinting off the flower’s leaves or bouncing off water droplets suspended on the stem also makes for an intriguing visual experience.
However, it is essential to note that natural light can look different depending on the time of day, season, and weather conditions. The best lighting conditions are usually found during sunrise and sunset when the sun is low in the sky. This time also allows you to take advantage of the brilliant reds, oranges, pinks, and purples present in the sky.
An interesting way to capture the sun’s rays is to position the flower between your camera and the sun so that a sliver of light peeks out from around the edges, creating a visually pleasing starburst effect. Springtime is the best for these photos as the weather is generally calm and the light is strong. However, all seasons bring a different element of beauty to the table and make for lovely photos.
Most amateur photographers tend to stick to the same angles, compositions, and editing style throughout their portfolios. However, adding a unique twist to your photos is important, which is easily accomplished using different angles and perspectives. Most people tend to tower over flowers and shoot from the same convenient angle, which can quickly get boring.
Instead, consider the perspective of a colorful butterfly, curious squirrel, or hungry hummingbird and shoot from their point of view to tell a different story. You may have to get down and get a little dirty to capture some of these unique shots, but it is so worth it. Don’t be afraid to lie on the ground and immerse yourself within nature to capture the beauty of flowers in an unconventional way.
When photographing the delicate and complex beauty of flowers, it is important to ensure your subject stands out. In some cases, an active background may be part of your creative vision. However, they can introduce visual elements that distract from the showstopping subject at hand. An easy way to ensure your subject stands out is to shoot against a monotone background, which can be as simple as a sheet of construction paper or a well-placed wall.
To add more authenticity to your photos, you can position your camera far from the background to blur it significantly. For a more dramatic effect, you can also use a dark background to enhance the contrast and make the vivid colors of nature pop. This makes your photos look cleaner and draws the viewer’s attention to the intricate details of the flower.
Often, the best photos of wildlife interacting with nature are complete accidents. When photographers go out hunting for hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees, the universe seems to conspire against them and make finding them extremely challenging.
If you’re out in the field and happen to observe a colorful monarch taking a refreshing drink from a flower, be sure to move with caution and not make any sudden movements. When you have a shot in range, take a photo in burst mode to capture an impressive, lively picture.
This makes for a more organic approach and adds an aesthetical element of freedom. It’s also super fun to photograph wildlife interacting with the environment and a great way to bring your inner National Geographic photographer out.
Taking photos of flowers indoors is a cheat code for perfect compositions, lighting, and backgrounds. The outdoor environment is highly dynamic and can be tough to navigate as a photographer. This is especially true since weather conditions and lighting can change rapidly. Shooting flowers indoors eliminates these variables and gives you a great training ground for this genre of photography. It also lets you get a little more creative and experiment with different effects such as colored light and props.
Instead of capturing a single flower, you can arrange a variety of colorful individuals into a beautiful bouquet. With so much diversity among flowers, you can combine them to take full advantage of their varying textures, details, shapes, and sizes to stage a visually appealing photo.
Bouquets are best photographed against plain backdrops, which prevent distracting background details from overshadowing their natural beauty. Depending on your creative vision, you can choose to construct a bouquet of monotone-colored flowers or create an explosive rainbow of color with an extensive variety of flowers. You can also try shooting from different perspectives by placing your camera within the bouquet, directly above it, or directly below it for a unique effect.
Flowers are some of the most popular subjects among photographers, which is no surprise considering their natural beauty and mind-bending intricacy. They are incredibly photogenic and make for impressive photos no matter what stage of life they’re in.
With so many types of flowers, settings, and compositions, you can really let our creativity bloom with flower photography. Regardless of how you decide to capture these wonders of nature, think about how the light, shooting angle, and background can emphasize the vibrancy, shape, and minute details of flowers to make the most of their natural beauty.
Featured Image Credit: Arief Juwono, Shutterstock
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Laura Guziczek is from New York City and an aerospace engineer by day, freelance writer by night. Although she is always moving around, Laura is currently based on Florida's sunny Space Coast, where she attends graduate school. Her passions and hobbies include astrodynamics, rocketry, spaceflight, planetary science, cooking, music, and art, making her a great fit here at OpticsMag! When she's not working, you can frequently find her traveling, honing her cooking skills, thinking about space too much, and hanging out with her friends and dogs.
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