Botanical Photography Tips & why I am so buzzed about it.

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Botanical Photography Tips & why I am so buzzed about it.

First, my buzz: the images in today’s blog are from my accepted Botanical Accreditation submission. I am excited because this is my 31st accepted accreditation.

Rather than just show off these images, I thought you might like some insights on botanical photography.

Mostly it’s macro photography work. Which means the depth of field drops off really fast. This gives a very unique look to the images; you can really isolate your focus point. This also means any movement, even the slightest, will radically shift your focus point. Tripods come in handy for the needed level of control.

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The time of day or the use of diffusers/reflectors will let you sculpt your subject. Usually soft light works best or at least not deep, contrasty shadows. These destroy the delicate nature of the subject. Of course there is always a few exceptions.

Along the same lines, wind or even soft breezes will frustrate you. The subject will bounce in and out of focus. Still, work with this, it could create a very fresh spontaneous feel to your image.

You can get in close, working just one small part of the plant or flower so that it becomes a glorious abstract.

Bring along reflectors, even tiny mirrors for fill and to create drama.

Be aware of your background; this super shallow depth of field creates a wonderful silky out of focus background. Observe if it supports your image intent with the colors, tonal depth and shapes.

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Bring along a 50/50 mix of Glycerin and water. A couple of sprays of this mixture will give your images a morning dew look. You can get amazing images when the droplets act like little lenses.

Change up your point of view. Move around; shoot up, then down, try coming in close on a leaf.

Look for patterns and design. Nature is full of the rule of thirds. Work your composition.

Be bold with postproduction overlays and textures. These will totally change the feel of your image.

My accreditation specifically had me going for differences to showcase what I can do. For a portfolio or study, develop a theme. Be it a specific background, plant/flower lineage, colors, point of view. This gives your collection a feeling of intent, of a vision beyond pretty plants.

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Sometimes, pull back, see the flower in the trees so to speak. Give space around your flower, let the surroundings speak about your subject.

Don’t always go looking for the pretty ones. Dying plants, twisted flowers, aged abuse these all give great character to an image.

Look for insects. Very early morning you might find them covered in dew and unable to fly away. Or bees swarming for nectar will give you some excitement trying to get them in focus. What a wonderful reward when you do.

Out in the wild, please be mindful of all the plants. In some alpine locations life is a short struggle. A callous boot can kill so much for so long. Even in the park, leave it for the insects and other passersby to enjoy. Do try out botanical gardens, green houses even florist’s shops.

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A friend of mine had this wild collection of small clamps to hold things like colored papers for backgrounds. Vance even had out of focus forest backgrounds to put behind the flower in a bland location.

Try saturations and desaturations all the way to rich black and whites. There are some Photoshop filters that can mimic old film processing effects, like real old tintypes.

There is more of course, I could go on but this should give you a start for your experimentations. Once you have a few, try something really radical, like making a huge wall sized enlargement, or be startling by printing it on metal. There was one photographer that made her whole income from flower close-ups enlarged to 6 and 8 foot square. Can you imagine the power of that?

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