How To Take Great Pictures of Flowers

posted on 12th of march, 2017

The photo (below) in this post of the Snowdrops in my backyard turned out very well. (See the full frame photo in my portfolio). But, it wasn't necessarily going to happen without a bit of planning before snapping the shutter.

Here are a few simple steps to consider when you are walking by a nice setting of flowers in order to increase the chances of taking a great shot.

If you simply photograph the flowers from waist height you would find that the angle is too high and the distance too great. Even if you got down on your knees the shot shown in this post would have been ruined by a background of garden mulch and then a chain link fence behind the flowers that existed in the real scene.

I remembered learning about building a photograph by beginning with the background. In this case I wanted a background that would contrast in black nicely with the white of the petals and the snow itself. To modify the view, I simply placed my black umbrella in behind the flowers with a few inches to allow for the background to be out of focus in the shot- quite simple and weather proof too!

I also know that close up photography is quite precise, especially when using available light. The key for sharp shots in these situations is to use a tripod, but alas, the lowest level of a regular tripod setting would be too high to get down to the flowers. So, I reversed the center column and then mounted the camera in the lowest position, upside down and near the ground.

With the camera in this position and the background umbrella in place it was relatively easy to focus by viewing through the adjustable LCD monitor. Since the depth of field can be quite shallow I used manual focus to focus on the nearest bloom for the first exposure and the furthest two blooms for the second exposure. The image in this post is a composite which maximizes the depth of field throughout the image.

So here's what I like to keep in mind:
1. take care of the background first. If you can screen out distractions behind the flowers you will have a better image.
2. get low and make sure you are using a tripod. Either reverse the center column or spread the tripod legs as far as possible to get low.
3. consider multiple images with your manual focus points on all key points in your scene. Then see if two or more shots need to be combined to use all of the sharpest points. I'm no expert, but I used Photoshop Elements 14 with the Photomerge function and it turned out fine.


Comments (9)

Posted by Husky29 on March 17, 2017
Thanks for the helpful tips
best regards
Posted by Dgiglio912 on March 16, 2017
Congratulations. I love taking flower shots. Like the black umbrella. Very helpful.
Posted by GWHughes on March 16, 2017
Thanks for your comment. I used f 7.1 with two images combined to make all of the flowers sharp. This would have made for a messy background of mulch and chain link fence, which is why I placed my black umbrella behind the flowers for a smooth look.
Posted by Deming9120 on March 16, 2017
Me too, I love flower shots too, especially for those extremely vibrant ones.

This one was photographed at F4, for an intermediate background blur, where my intend was to off focus the background, but retain some details on the flower.
Posted by Sarahbob on March 15, 2017
I too love to take photos of flowers. They are much more appealing when taken at eye level and close up! Here is one of the few, I took recently of snowdrops in the hedgerow. I didn't have my tripod with me, so went flat on my belly, using a 50mm 1.4 lens.
Snowdrops Close Up
Posted by Unteroffizier on March 14, 2017
I think the theory can also be applied to other subjects. Knowing that when you use a longer lens and when you focus near, the depth of field will be very shallow. If your photo will be displayed in small size with height 720p, using a big aperture is fine. But if you are making large prints of 8"x12" or bigger, please use a smaller aperture.

This photo was taken at f/8 so that the whole flower can still be in focus at 8"x12".

 A small white daisy flower with yellow centre 
Posted by GWHughes on March 14, 2017
Thanks for the comments. Yes, wind can be a big problem with flower close-ups, especially if using only natural light. I agree that a longer lens is also good- this photo was with a 100mm lens on a full frame camera.
Posted by Chriskiely on March 14, 2017
Very beautiful!
Posted by Gmargittai on March 14, 2017
Nice photo,
Some more advice that can help.
Avoid wind at all cost. Wind moves the flowers and causes blurred and out of focus pictures.
I am also using tripod. I think it's a must
The lens I use most often is a tele zoom. I am often using macro add on lens to be able to focus at a short distance. These lens are quite cheap $50-$100 and attach to your lens just like a filter. Sets of 3 lens are most common. +1 +2 +5 diopter.

It is good to use longer lens.
- One can get a good isolation from the background.
- Don't need to be that close to the flower. One can focus more comfortably. California poppy 

Comments (9)

This article has been read 1135 times.
Photo credits: Grant Hughes.

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Amateur photographer trying for high quality and evocative images for all to enjoy.

Victoria, CA

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