Flower Photography Tips - How to take beautiful Flower Photos

Flowers make a great subject for a photo - they're naturally beautiful, and easy to find in the warmer months of the year. This article covers the top tips and techniques to get great photos when photographing flowers in their natural surroundings.

Choose different angles

If you want your flower photos to stand out, try taking photos from different angles, such as looking up.

Touching the sky by Tambako the Jaguar (licensed CC-BY-ND)
Touching the sky by Tambako the Jaguar (licensed CC-BY-ND) | Source

When taking natural flower photos, you will generally want to take the photo at slightly above eye level with the flower, while ensuring that the centre of the flower can be seen. This means you will probably need to crouch down. For smaller flowers you may even need to get the camera right down at ground level.

If the ground is wet you may find a cheap foam kneeling board (used when gardening) will help prevent your trousers / knees getting dirty. If your camera has a live-view function, this will help greatly when composing an image with the camera at ground level.

T by aussiegall (licensed CC-BY)
T by aussiegall (licensed CC-BY) | Source

Isolate the flower from its surroundings

To help throw the background out of focus and isolate the flower, set your camera / lens to use a relatively large aperture (e.g. f/4) when taking the photo. If space permits, also try using a lens with a longer focal length, such as 200mm or 300mm, and taking the photo with the same framing, but from further away. This change in perspective compared to a photo taken closer with a shorter focal length helps to isolate the flower from the rest of the scene.

Use a diffuser if the light is harsh

Hold the diffuser between the sun and the flower, and you should see the reduction in harsh shadows and highlights on the flower.

You can buy commercially produced diffusers, like the Lastolite Trigrip, or make your own. To make your own diffuser you need some white translucent material, like an old T-shirt, plastic bag, or tissue paper. Stretch the material out over a frame, such as an old coat hanger bent into a diamond shape, and attach it securely.

Use natural light

For taking photos of flowers in their natural environment you will be best using natural light as your main light source, rather than flash. Natural light will generally give less harsh shadows than flash, and also ensure that the background behind the flower is lit well.

Cherry Blossoms by Jeff Kubina (licensed CC-BY-SA)
Cherry Blossoms by Jeff Kubina (licensed CC-BY-SA) | Source

The best time of the day for flower photography is early morning or late afternoon. The light at these times will be warmer and less harsh than it is during the middle of the day. The wind also tends to be lower at the start and end of the day, so you are less likely to get the flower blowing about while you attempt to photograph it.

Depending on how well your flower is lit (e.g. if you're shooting a flower in woodland then it's probably relatively dark), then you may need to use a tripod to stabilise the camera. When placing the tripod though, be careful - you don't want to find the perfect flower and then knock all its petals off while trying to position your tripod!

For photographing flowers during the daytime, the best conditions are when the sun is shining through hazy cloud. The cloud helps diffuse the sunlight, making the shadows less harsh and so producing a better photo.

Use a reflector or fill-flash when necessary

As an alternative to a reflector, or in addition, you can use fill-flash to help light the flower and fill in dark shadows. Make sure you have your flash set at a relatively low power, as you only want the flash to contribute a small amount of light to the scene, not become the main light source. The actual power the flash should be set to will depend on how far the flash unit is from your subject.

ePhoto 32REF 32-Inch 5 in 1 Collapsible Multi Disc Reflector with Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black Reflectors
ePhoto 32REF 32-Inch 5 in 1 Collapsible Multi Disc Reflector with Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black Reflectors

5 in 1 multi photo reflector disc 32" (80CM). It comes with silver, gold, black, white and translucent. These are the most widely used reflectors in photographing studio or outdoor photographs. Reflector can be fold to fit into small storage case (included).

 

Landscape style

When you come across a large area covered with flowers, you'll most likely want to take a photo of the whole scene. Try to include some foreground, middle-ground, and background in your photo to create a sense of depth and scale. Try and use the rule of thirds and leading lines when composing the photo too.

Forever dandelions by Vince Alongi (licensed CC-BY)
Forever dandelions by Vince Alongi (licensed CC-BY) | Source

If it is windy, set the camera to use a fast enough shutter speed to avoid the flowers coming out blurred. (Unless, of course, the painterly blurred look is what you're going for).

Dew drops add sparkle to a flower

Flowers covered in early morning dew make an attractive photo. But if you don't get up early enough before the dew evaporates, you can create your own dew by spraying the flower with water from a misting bottle or spray bottle.

Sunsplashed Morning Dew by jurvetson (licensed CC-BY)
Sunsplashed Morning Dew by jurvetson (licensed CC-BY) | Source

Move closer

If your camera has a macro mode, or you have a DSLR with a macro lens, try getting in close and filling the frame with the flower.

" Care for the one who shares with you, share with the one who knows you, know the one who MISSES you, MISS the one who WELL WISHES for you..." by Parvin (licensed CC-BY-SA)
" Care for the one who shares with you, share with the one who knows you, know the one who MISSES you, MISS the one who WELL WISHES for you..." by Parvin (licensed CC-BY-SA) | Source

Try getting really close to isolate just part of the flower. When focusing on only a very small part of a flower you can find some great abstract compositions.

Begonia abstract
Begonia abstract | Source

When taking close-ups and macro photographs of flowers, you will probably need to use flash or long shutter speeds to ensure the flower is exposed properly. At these very close distances, flash will usually appear relatively soft, and more like natural light, especially if you are diffusing the flash as well.

Prevent the wind ruining your photo

A big problem when taking photos of flowers outside is that the flowers blow about in the wind. If the flower is constantly moving about this will cause problems in composing your photo. And it will also result in a blurry photo if your shutter speed is not high enough to freeze the motion of the moving flower.

One thing you can do to combat the wind is to set up a wind break between the flower and the wind. You don't need to use a full size wind break though! If you have a tripod and diffuser or reflector with you, you can place the tripod between the flower and the wind, and then rest the diffuser or reflector up against the tripod's legs. So long as you're not photographing a tall flower, this should act as a decent windbreak.

For small flowers even something relatively small, such as a backpack, should act as a decent wind-break.

Another thing you can do to prevent the flower moving about is to secure the flower using an accessory known as a plamp. This is a small bendable arm with clamps on both ends. The end with the large clamp clamps to your tripod leg, and the other end with a smaller, softer clamp, clamps onto the flower stem. This secures the flower and stops the flower blowing about in the wind.

Wimberley PP100 Plamp Articulating Arm & Clamp
Wimberley PP100 Plamp Articulating Arm & Clamp

One end of the Plamp clamps to your tripod while the other grasps the object. Use the Plamp to stabilize windblown subjects, adjust the position or angle of your subject, or move obstructing foliage. You can also use the Plamp to hold reflectors and lens shades. One day in the field with a Plamp and you will begin to realize its full potential.

 

Use backlighting

The large majority of flowers have thin petals, making them look great when backlit. The light shines through the petals, giving them quite a different look to a standard front-lit flower photo.

backlit flower by Muffet (licensed CC-BY)
backlit flower by Muffet (licensed CC-BY) | Source

Pay attention to the flower condition

There are exceptions to everything, but generally a photo of an undamaged flower will look much nicer than that of a damaged one with half the petals eaten or fallen off. If you are in an area where lots of the same sort of flowers are growing, take your time to check a few of the flowers and find the one that is in the best condition.

You are the sunshine of my life...
You are the sunshine of my life... | Source

Pay attention to what is surrounding the flower as well, and try to avoid including any elements that distract from the flower and don't add to the image (such as a random blade of grass). Sometimes you may be able to change the angle you are photographing the flower from to remove the distracting elements, while other times you may need to squash down or remove the distracting elements.

If you are photographing outside of your own garden, be careful what you are removing as you don't want to remove anything that looks like a common weed, but is actually a rare plant.

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Comments 15 comments

Back 2 Basics profile image

Back 2 Basics 5 years ago from Maine

I love photographing flowers, and there are a couple of tips that I haven't tried yet. I can't wait till the snow melts in my neck of the woods!


amynichter profile image

amynichter 5 years ago from Canton, Ohio

Incredible article! Many great ideas to be had here ... thank you for the insight! I am looking forward to applying some of these techniques to my own photography!


Mary R. Schutter profile image

Mary R. Schutter 4 years ago

Wonderful article! I love to photograph flowers but live in a windy area. Your tips on setting up windbreaks and stabilizing flowers should prove helpful.


Eileen Goodall profile image

Eileen Goodall 4 years ago from Buckinghamshire, England

Great hub, clear instructions, have just started photographing nature using a macro filter this article is bound to help me, many thanks, voted up and pinned.


Kalmiya profile image

Kalmiya 4 years ago from North America

Thanks for your great tips on photographing flowers; I love taking shots of flowers and you list tips I haven't thought of and so hope to apply these ideas to future pictures!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

I totally agree with you, flowers, and nature in general, is a great subject for photography. You have given many useful tips to make the most out of this inspiring art form. Voted up, useful and interesting.


photographyadvice profile image

photographyadvice 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks everyone, glad you found the hub helpful!


Green Art profile image

Green Art 4 years ago

Great ideas here for photographing flowers. I've run into issues with the wind and will set up a wind break next time that happens. I find I get some of my best shots after a rain and the sun peaks through the clouds. I want to try the back lighting idea mentioned here too. The effect is stunning! Amazing photographs in this hub, voted up, useful and beautiful.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!


bala 4 years ago

it's beautiful


Darrylmdavis profile image

Darrylmdavis 4 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

Great hub...very good points


Johan Smulders profile image

Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

Excellent tips, thanks!


OMGirdle profile image

OMGirdle 3 years ago from United States

I'm currently working on flower photography. There are many excellent tips in your hub. I never thought of backlighting or the macro to create an abstract. Hub is very well done!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This was so interesting. You've made so many good points and added a few I'd never thought of like the back lighting. What a beautiful photo!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


in-memory profile image

in-memory 2 years ago from United States

This is really wonderful. I will take every tips you've laid out here, as I love photographing flowers (second to food)

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