How To Take Great Spring Flower Photographs

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How To Take Great Spring Flower Photographs

Springtime flowers are the most vibrant and alive. Fresh from hiding through a cold winter they bring so much color and life back into our world. These vibrant subjects are just outside your door.

I love photographing flowers. Wherever I go, I always take some time to photograph them. Here are some fresh cut ideas on how you can get great flower photographs.

  • Time of Day. Early morning is the best. Not only is the light at its most generous angle; being low and soft it brings up delicate textures with rich colors. Dew and raindrops can often be found, adding uniqueness to your image. The bonus is small insects are moving slow or not all, spending the night on the flower’s petals. Or bees are crawling all over the flower searching for nectar.


  • Macro or close focus lenses are the best. You get in close for the point of view the average person who stops to smell the flowers cannot see. The patterns, the delicate features of the flower can be showcased up close. Along with a close perspective comes a very shallow depth of field. Your messy backgrounds become soft shapes. Fields of flowers, when focusing close on one flower, become a complimentary color palette.Wider-angle lenses are not to be left behind. Photographing a field of blue flowers can be startling. Working with long lenses you can still work that out-of-focus effect using shallow depth of field while getting a wonderful compression effect as you move close to your flowering subject.
  • Especially if you are working up close with a macro lens. Your depth of field is often so shallow that a fraction of a movement places your key focus point out of focus. Tripods also slow you down, give you time to compose; to ponder your design.X0995A-153VF
  • Reflectors and Subtractors. This is the spice that will elevate your image above the masses. The control of light and contrast. Bring along small reflectors, soft white or contrasty silver. I have used crumpled tin foil; it adds sparkle to the flower’s textures.Subtractors may be new to you. It is based on the idea of subtracting light. This increases drama and shape to your subject. I often use black tinfoil but dark cards work too. The world is full of things that reflect the light, including the big blue sky. By bringing a black card in from the side it increases the shadow strength on that side, modeling the light for you.You can even put the card above the flower forcing the light to come in on the flower at a much lower angle.
  • The use of flash is a bit trickier than with usual subjects. It is easy to over do it. To the rescue are special ring flashes designed just for close-up photography. You can even control which side of the ring flash fires.Flashes can add a creative element to your image. You can make the flower go brighter than the background by working with your shutter speeds and aperture. You can do the fun trick of adding a colored filter to the flash, using a white card to set that color to white balance then have the real world colors shift to accommodate. This is spectacular when you incorporate a sunset into your image.
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  • Fake Backgrounds. My friend Vance Hanna taught me this. He would go out and photograph wilderness backgrounds, some out-of-focus, some with soft pastel colors. These would be enlarged and mounted. He would bring these prints with him on his flower shoots. Setting them up behind the flower, far enough behind so the print texture would not give it away, adjusting for the light hitting it, essentially he brought a portable forest with him.
  • Shade and harsh light. If you just focused on soft morning light you will be missing out on some bold options. Open shade or overcast days provide a wonderful soft light, nearly shadowless light on the flower. Working with a large scrim diffuser high noon can transform the harsh light into delicate open light.Harsh light does not need to be avoided. With the right creative camera angles you can create powerful, unique images. Black and white becomes a great choice for this since it is a study in contrast and character.
  • Not Just Flowers. Springtime brings fresh buds. You can consider setting up a time lapse shot to transform a several day coming out event into a few seconds. There are unique plants filled with design, still new and fresh to photograph. Mushrooms and spider webs. Lots can be found around the flower world for photography.X0995E-096FF
  • POV – Point of View. Most people just stand or at best kneel for that flower shot. Get down to the flower, shoot up at it, explore it from different angles, different depths of field; focus on different elements of the flower. Make it interesting.
  • Be careful. Don’t crush flowers and plants around your subject to get your shot, especially in alpine areas. Be respectful of the life around the plants and flowers. When you leave it should be as if you were never there.


This is the perfect time of year to stop and smell the roses, or tulips or blue bells or . . . find a different world as you get up close with Mother Earth’s spring time beauty.
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