It’s November, so I thought I’d give you a shot of summer to tide you over for just a little while.
I’m going to write about how to jazz up your photographs of flowers. Don’t worry, though: this isn’t going to be about f-stops and apertures and film speed. (Film? What’s that?)
Instead, it’ll be for all the point-and-shoot photographers out there, people like me with camera phones.
Everybody I know loves flowers, and it’s always tempting to take pictures of them. Most of my own flower shots were disappointing, though.
I took most of my flower photos standing, shooting from a distance.
Pretty, but basically boring, like this photo of lavender in my back yard.
So what happens if I change my angle?
Get down in the weeds next to the flowers and shoot from there?
Or if I shoot from directly above?
Much more interesting things happen.
Here’s a shot of the same lavender; it almost looks like it’s in 3D.
Here’s another shot, a different angle on a newly-budded pink geranium.
Check out the light – much more interesting than shooting down at the flowers, isn’t it?
The petals almost seem to glow.
Light is always an issue in photographs, especially with flower photographs.
Overcast or indirect light is much softer than direct sunlight. Check out these two photographs: (#4 & #5)
The first was taken in harsh, direct sunlight, the second in softer light from an overcast sky. Sometimes you have no choice in light selection, but if you must photograph flowers in direct sunlight, go for the “magic hours,” the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The angle of the light is longer, the light softer and somehow richer.
Or this shot of a white-lined sphinx moth sipping whatever it is they sip from petunias. I got this shot just after dusk with a flash.
Or this shot of a pink petunia after a sun shower. The water adds interest to a very basic photograph and the glints of light off the drops add depth to the shot.
You can take a series of photos of your flowers, following them from bud to full flower and past.
The plant’s cycle is so much more interesting than a single shot of this sunflower in bloom.
(Photos 10, 12 and 12a)
Background, in most photos, is important.
For flowers, try to find a background that showcases your blooms.
It’s best if it’s not busy. If it is, it competes with the flower for the attention of the viewer.
All in all, closer is, I think, better than farther away, especially because flowers are so delicate, have so many intricate parts.
So, to summarize, here are a few “rules” I’d suggest for better photographs of flowers:
1) Indirect light is best, but the “magic hours” are a close second.
2) Close-ups are usually better than shots taken from farther away.
3) Vary your angle. Get down!
4) Choose the simplest background for a greater focus on your flower.
5) For additional interest, try to include something BESIDES the flower.
When the first flowers bloom next spring, I hope you’ll use some of these tips to help your own photographs. Until then, have a great winter!
Karen E. Hall, environmental engineer, amateur photographer and writer, is the author of two Hannah Morrison mysteries, Unreasonable Risk (http://tinyurl.com/lqrxxht) and Through Dark Spaces (http://tinyurl.com/6sm8eyv). She writes about environmental issues—and women working in what are traditionally male occupations. Her next Hannah Morrison mystery will be set in the wild west of the Bakken Oil Fields of northwestern North Dakota. You can find out more about Karen at her website: http://www.karenehall.com.