Flower Photography - How to Photograph Flowers

  • 01 of 04

    Flower Photography - Challenges of Flower Photography

    Girl Photographing Sunflower
    Tomas Del Amo Collection/Photolibrary/Getty Images
    Flower photography is a favorite type of photography for many people. Flowers come in a huge variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Combine this with the bees and butterflies that flowers attract and photographers fairly swarm around flowers in bloom.

    Flower photography has some unique challenges when compared with other photography subjects.
    • Dealing With Minimum Focusing Distances
    • Lighting Challenges From Multiple Surface Angles
    • Dealing With Random Motion
    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Flower Photography - Dealing with Minimum Focusing Distances

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    In flower photography, the small size of many flowers often cause photographers to struggle when trying to fill the frame with the flower. Each lens has a minimum focusing distance that restricts how close we can get to the flower and still keep it in focus. For zoom lenses without macro capability, this distance can sometimes be 3 or more feet from the subject.

    With larger subjects, minimum focusing distance isn't usually an issue. But when dealing with flowers the instinct of the...MORE photographer is to move as close as possible in order to fill the frame with the flower. In doing this, the photographer will move closer until the flower cannot be focused on and then will move back slightly. The problem is that when the lens is on the borderline between being able to focus and being too close, a slight wiggle of the photographer will put the flower out of focus.

    There are several ways to deal with the minimum focusing distance issue.
    • Use a tripod
      By using a tripod, your camera will be fixed at one point and not subject to accidental bumps into the "too close" zone.
    • Move your body
      When you are on the borderline of too close to your subject, use your body to focus the image. Set the camera to the minimum distance focus and lean forward or back until the image is in focus. This is actually more precise than trying to focus with the lens and compensating for slight body movement at the same time.
    • Change the minimum focus distance
      By using extension tubes (compare prices), you will increase the distance between the rear element of your lens and the film or digital sensor. The effect of this is to allow much smaller minimum focusing distances in front of the lens.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Flower Photography - Lighting Challenges From Multiple Surface Angles

    © 2008 Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Flower photography lighting is a challenge because of multiple surface angles. Most flowers have multiple petals. Between petals, stems, and leaves a photographer is faced with light being reflected from multiple surfaces and often blocked by a few. Every petal can act like a mini-reflector.

    This often results in a few petals being very dark and a few being extremely bright. There are a few ways to combat this issue.
    • Make the most of it
      Lighting differences on flower surfaces are not necessarily a...MORE bad thing. Take the time to study the flower and see if there is an angle you can shoot from that uses the lighting situation as a plus for your image. Silhouttes, backlit images, and highlighted images are often very striking.
    • Add more light
      If the lighting differences are just too great you can add more light to even out the exposure. You can do this with flash (use a diffuser) or reflectors.
    • Come back later
      Another way to deal with the lighting differences is to come back at a different time of day when the sun is at a different angle to the flower. Morning, midday, and afternoon light all have different properties of color as well as light intensity and angle so it is worth visiting your chosen flower subject throughout the day to find the perfect lighting.
    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Flower Photography - Challenges From Random Motion

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Flowers are often thought of as motionless subjects. They don't run when you approach, they stay in the same place all day, and they don't try to bite you when get too close. However, flowers do move and create flower photography challenges from random motion. Wind, even gentle breezes, can cause enough motion in flowers to create blurry images. Insects on flowers can also cause sudden motion when the insect arrives or leaves. Even dew dropping off of a flower can cause a rebounding...MORE effect. Like most problems, there are solutions for this movement.
    • Hold it still
      There are clamp arms made specifically for flower photography that do not damage the flower. These clamps are attached to a tripod and then adjusted to hold the flower where the photographer needs it to be for the image. You can also try holding the flower still with your fingers but this is prone to movement caused by shaky hands.
    • Photograph in the morning
      The air is generally at its most still first thing in the morning. Frost is often still on flowers and insects move slowly as well. Combined with the excellent light quality found first thing in the morning, this time of day is excellent for flower photography.
    • Use a high shutter speed
      Using a high shutter speed (1/500 of a second or faster) will minimize the chances of an image turning out blurry due to unexpected motion of a flower.