Nature Photography & Photography Tips
Spring & Nature Photography / Inspiration to Learn
Spring time is an ode to fertility that offers a magnificent window for flora lovers to engage in natural photography. The great variety of blooming trees during this season is the perfect motivation for photographers to get inspired and apply the photography tips they have learned in the past.
No matter how technical or empiric our photography knowledge may be, the awe inspiring beauty of nature during spring time is the perfect excuse to use our camera and capture amazing flower pictures, as well as other lovely details of nature.
In this article, I have used flower photos from my “Mexican Spring Nature Photography Collection” to illustrate several photography tips that may help you enhance your compositions and create more visually attractive pictures.
Jacaranda Flower Pictures
Flower Pictures & Photography Tips
The blooming Jacaranda tree is one of my favorite spring time inspirations, for it sprinkles beauty all around: from the purple-blue tree tops splashing the landscape with happy gracefulness, to the gorgeous little beauty of its individual flowers and seed capsules, to the velvety carpets they lay on the ground when the tinny flowers fall and accumulate beneath the tree.
The Jacaranda Flower Pictures on the right are 3 examples of the natural magic that occurs when a little bit of nature photography applies to spring´s magic. There are three major photography techniques that were used in these compositions, which are precisely the elements that make them alluring to the eye:
- In all 3 photographs, I played with a blurry background to isolate a specific detail of the Jacaranda tree. The blurry background gives depth and perspective to the image while enhancing the main point of interest in the composition. Even the third photograph (the one with the clovers), has a bit of blurry background, otherwise, the image would be flat, bi-dimensional, and much less interesting.
- Colors are enhanced by working within the “chromatic depth range” of the focus scale, which allows brighter and fuller colors to be captured with the camera (no need to edit latter).
- Elements of interested are located in strategic visual points based on the “Rule of Thirds”, which will be explain further on, and applies to almost all of my photographs.
So how does this work?
Understanding F Numbers
If you are not acquainted with F numbers and how the Diaphragm of the camera works, the following article explains, in simple and clear terms, all about F numbers, how/when/which to use, and the photographic effects one can achieve using the F scale:
The Jacaranda Flower Pictures were taken with a shutter speed of 1/160sec, an ISO Sensitivity of 800, and a Focus number of F7.1, for the first two, and F11 for the third one:
- The F number used in all cases is within the chromatic depth range (F7-F12), enhancing the beautiful Jacaranda colors in the image without the use of Photoshop.
- The blurry background effect is enhanced by a combination of an intermediate F. No., a short focal length and the use of single focus mode (AF). The shot was taken from a very short distance, using the single focus mode, which means the camera focuses on a single coordinate within the frame.
The high ISO Sensitivity gives a lot of detail and texture to the photograph, even the tiny little hairs of the flower in the second photo can be seen (click picture to enlarge). The pictures were taken just before dusk and this allowed for the use of a large ISO Sensitivity without noise (no dark areas in the photo).
In these examples, priority is given to the F number and ISO Sensitivity, the shutter speed is left to a secondary role and is set to regulate the correct lighting.
Photography Tips to Improve Composition of Flower Pictures:
- Use F numbers between 7 and 12 to enhance colors.
- Use high ISO Sensitivity values to increase detail and texture.
- Use smaller F numbers and short focal lengths to create a blurry background effect.
Flower Photos & the Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a photography guideline that recommends certain strategic points in the photographic frame as the best place to locate the point of interest, or subject, of our composition.
This composition tool divides the photographic frame in horizontal and vertical thirds, using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, which represent the areas in which human vision naturally focuses.
The following schematic shows the lines with which we should imaginarily divide our frame to help us create an interesting image (some cameras have a rule of thirds setting that actually shows these lines in the frame, and makes it easier for the novice photographer):
Rule of Third´s Schematics
Rule of Thirds Exercise
Observe how the Rule of Thirds was applied to each one of the Jacaranda Flower Pictures at the top of this page, draw the imaginary lines and try locating the points of interest in relation to them.
The Rule of Thirds recommends locating the subject along the horizontal and vertical lines shown in the picture, being the intersections between them (marked with a green dot) the best coordinates to locate the point of interest. This strategic positioning helps create more dynamic and attractive photographs for the human eye.
By locating the horizon along the upper or lower horizontal lines, we can also modify the depth of the picture.
Photography Tips to Improve Composition
4. Apply the Rule of Thirds to your composition: locate the point of interest at one of the 4 line intersections.
5. Experiment with the Rule of Thirds by modifying your frame and changing the coordinates of the subject.
Nature Photography & Cactus Beauty
Nature Photography: Cactus in Spring
Nature has definitely an incredible way of surprising the observer with the delicate and obvious beauty of its flower kingdom. Nevertheless, its exquisiteness isn´t limited to the reproductive organ of plants, it expands all through the unbelievable variety of patterns, textures and intricate details of the leaves, thorns and forms of all vegetation.
When a photographer starts to really observe nature, lots of curious details start popping up, he sees things that past unnoticed before. At this point, an opportunity to capture the unseen arises, great artistic work can come up as we express the alluring perfection of the natural flora through our vision.
The Cactus family is a very attractive world that shows rarely seen and impressive beauty, through its wide-ranging forms, figures, colors and complex thorn patterns, as well as its exotic flowers.
The photographs here shown are a sample of this cactus world I am describing (particularly during spring time) and the pleasant surprises that popped out to me during a photo shoot at Mexico´s City Botanical Garden.
Blurry Background Effect, Isolating Point of Interest
"Isolate the point of interest from unwanted background using small F numbers & short focal length"
Photograph: ““The Beauty of Cactus Thorn Pattern” (see image on the right of this text)
- Shutter Speed: 1/500sec
- F Number: F5.6
- ISO Sensitivity: 200
Surprising Flower Photos of Blossoming Nopal Cactus
Photography Format Survey
Which format do you use most?
Other Photography Tips
Horizontal, Vertical & Diagonal Formats
Another element to be considered in a photographic composition is the format of the image: how do we want to stage our picture? Horizontally? Vertically? Diagonally?
A general photography guideline (not a rule) is to choose the format according to the lines in the scene we want to capture:
- horizontal formats for pictures having predominantly horizontal lines, and
- vertical formats for pictures having predominantly vertical lines.
Notice that the apparent direction of the lines can also be modified by changing the camera´s angle (as in the picture above).
When we want to achieve a dynamic picture and give a sense of action or speed, we can go for a diagonal format or “dynamic” format.
Dynamic Action & Diagonal Lines
Format & Lines: Characteristics
- Gives amplitude and balanced distribution.
- Conveys peace, tranquility and quietness.
- Communicates a sense of strength, rigidity, power.
- Gives direction and determination.
- Represents movement, speed, action.
- Conveys a feeling of dynamic action even when the object is static.
Nature Photography: Cactus Up Close & Proxemics
More Photography Tips: Proxemics
Proxemics is a subcategory of the study of nonverbal communication that refers to the use of space in interpersonal communication.
In photography, proxemics represent an important aspect of the way any given individual relates and communicates with another object, or being, and has an impact on the kind of photography that particular individual will engage in. Some of us like to get very close to the object we are shooting; while some of us might feel uncomfortable doing that, and may choose to preserve our space shooting from larger distances.
The cactus close-ups on the right are examples of pictures taken from a short focal length, which means the photographer got pretty close to the subject: “invading its space” and maximizing the textures and details of thorns, flowers and general plant structure.
In a different proxemic, the photographer might have taken the picture from a greater distance, maybe capturing the whole cactus, not just a detail.
There is no guideline in this respect, it is just a matter of personal choice and what the photographer wants to express.
Note: these photographs were also taken with a small F number (F3.5) giving the pictures a blurry background, and thus, great depth and perspective.
Using Photography Tips for the Perfect Composition
Composition Photography Tips: Geometry & Perspective
Geometry and Perspective can give your composition that extra little something that makes a photograph so beautiful and attractive to the eye. Learn how to apply and enhance your compositions with these elements in the following article:
Not every photography tip we have given in this article can be applied at the same time, all in the same picture.
According to our artistic vision, our own sense of composition and the things we want to express through our pictures, we will choose a few, or a couple of them, and make the most out of our priorities and choices.
In this final nature photograph (“Transcending Green Inspiration”), several photography tips were taken into consideration for the final composition; a brief description of the composition process follows, which can help as a last example of the workings of a nature lover and photographer in action:
- A blurry background effect was generated by choosing an intermediate F number (F8.0) and a short focal length. This choice gave the picture depth and perspective, which made for a much more interesting composition.
- Color was enhanced by choosing an F number within the Chromatic Depth Range (from F7.0 to F12).
- A high ISO Sensitivity (1000) was used to give lots of texture and detail.
- Rule of Thirds was followed placing the main point of interest at the upper-left intersection, following the left vertical line.
- A horizontal format was chosen for it conveys feelings that are closer to the composition´s theme (peace, tranquility and quietness, all related to nature) and gives a balanced equilibrium to the whole picture.
- Proxemics: subject´s space “invaded”, main focal point shot from a very short distance.
Lear about macro photography and other flower photography tips (lighting, edition, gear, etc) with the work of nifwlseirff:
Photography tips and/or guidelines are a great tool that we can use to enhance our composition. The trick lies in learning them in theory and applying them in practice. Once we feel comfortable using them, we can mix and match, get creative with them, and start giving form to our own style.
The photography tips here given have the goal of expanding your photography world and opening up a source of infinite possibilities with which to experiment and have fun.