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Thread: Flower photography

  1. #1

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    Flower photography

    With spring here in the UK, flowers are starting to show. Is there any tips on taking photos on flower anyone would like to share? Comp, framing etc.

    I had a 60mm macro lens on for this picture below, although I like it, I'm thinking what could I have done to improve it.

    Any kind of help at all on flower photography would be appreciated.




    My wife thinks this is a Camellia?

    Flower photography

  2. #2

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    Re: Flower photography

    I'm not specifically a flower photographer but will suggest that your flower and leaves directly behind it are very good. I am however distracted by the flower behind it to the left because it is so much brighter. It either needs to be in focus to complement the main flower or in this case when the photo is already done, dodge it darker than the main one. Nice detail and framing overall..

  3. #3

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    Re: Flower photography

    I don't do that much flower photography, Dave, but I'm beginning to think that the best option is to cut the specimen then take it indoors and work with controlled conditions; including suitable backgrounds, which can be from a print. Not always an option though.

    But the very best tip I can offer for 'in the wild' photography is to avoid wind rock problems. This piece of high tech equipment may help.

    Flower photography

    Apart from that it is mostly trying to avoid harsh sunlight, and poor backgrounds, as Andrew mentioned.

  4. #4

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    Re: Flower photography

    Thank you both for the hints and tips. I'll be giving them a go.

  5. #5
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    Re: Flower photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
    With spring here in the UK, flowers are starting to show. Is there any tips on taking photos on flower anyone would like to share? Comp, framing etc.

    Any kind of help at all on flower photography would be appreciated.
    Hi Dave,

    Don't blow it

    By which I mean; be very careful not to over expose one or two colour channels, keep a regular eye on your RGB histogram. Be especially wary if the sun is going in and out as the WB change will dramatically affect the amount of red.

    Good luck,

  6. #6
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    Re: Flower photography

    A very good site on English wildflower identification has an article on flower photography which might be of use to you.
    http://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Pages...ingFlowers.htm

  7. #7

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    Re: Flower photography

    Thanks Dave for the hint and thanks John for the link

  8. #8
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    Re: Flower photography

    Another way to make your flower look fresh is to carry a small spray bottle of water (or of a water/glycerine solution) and spray it on the flower just before you snap the shuter.

    Some sort of a shield such as a piece of foamboard or an umbrella can shade your flower from direct sun. Shoot with flash as your main light.

    A small portable background of gray, green or black material can also help when there is a busy and distractive background.

  9. #9
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    Re: Flower photography

    These are good suggestions. Re the first: if you are shooting an individual flower, it can help to try to get more isolation of the subject. With your lens, you can get a lot closer, which is one way to do it. Re shooting indoors: yes, indeed. I do most of my flower macros indoors for that reason. You get more control. Also, when you get really close, limited DOF becomes a problem, and it is much easier to focus stack if you are indoors and using a tripod. Re blown color channels: in my experience, the worst is intense reds. Very hard to do. Two tips: First, set your camera to show the histograms for all three color channels separately, and expose so the brightest is not clipping. Second, if you have very intense colors, don't do a simple contrast adjustment, because it will increase saturation. Instead, create another layer, use curves on the layer to increase contrast, and then set the blending mode to luminance.

  10. #10
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    Re: Flower photography

    A few things I do:

    1) Avoid direct sunlight - it creates specular highlights where all three channels are blown out.

    2) If direct sunlight is unavoidable, use a diffuser in strong sunlight - it softens the light and prevents specular highlights. An essential tool is the 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser. Aside from the diffuser function, the reflective surfaces can be used when the sun is very low to cast skylight on the flower. I use the gold side to reflect sunset light back onto a orange or yellow flower.
    http://www.adorama.com/WEPB5I140.html

    3) A polarizer can be very useful - it too will help to eliminate specular highlights and increase saturation (OK if more saturation is needed - some colours lose their detail very quickly with increased saturation - red is particularly bad).

    4) Shoot in the rain - cloudy skies act much like a CPL, and rain drops on flowers are always interesting. A water bottle is a nuisance, and some flower shooters claim it looks fake.

    5) Use a tripod; it's surprising how much crisper the image can be. Not only does it eliminate camera movement, it keeps the camera still so focus on a critical point is not lost. A tripod also slows the process down, making more time for thinking and composing.

    6) As already pointed out, use the RGB histogram - red flowers will blow out surprisingly easily.

    7) Avoid cluttered backgrounds that draw attention from the feature subject. I find this the most difficult aspect of flower photography.

    8) Strive for simplicity - it's more effective than clutter.

    9) Consider what DOF will do to the final image - use live view or DOF preview. There are times when shallow DOF is very effective; times when more DOF is effective. Shallow DOF is easy - open the lens up; for more DOF, and to eliminate background clutter, use focus stacking.

    10) Buy a gardener's kneeling pad - it keeps the knees of your pants clean, and prevents bruised and/or sore knees.

    11) Some people like black backgrounds for flowers - I use a piece of black cloth mounted on a bamboo stick (gardening shop), in turn mounted on two vertical bamboo sticks which I push into the ground behind the flower (the sticks are connected with rubber bands). With a bit of PP, the BG can be changed to different colours or left black.

    12) Wind is problematic (read Dan's post). I use a tool called a Plamp - a plant clamp - a flexible gizmo with clamps on each end. A gentle clamp attaches to the flower, the other strong clamp attaches to the tripod. It will not prevent movement in a strong wind, but is somewhat successful in a light breeze. Patience is useful.

    Glenn

  11. #11

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    Re: Flower photography

    First agree with your wife, it is a camelia.
    Second use RAW, as it is very difficult to get the exposure right in red or purple flowers. I suggest 1-1.5 stops underexposure.
    Use manual focus, to get the focus on the part of the flower that you want to be in focus.
    You may need to focus in front and behind the 'sweet' spot to get the focus correct.
    Use the depth of field preview button, although not helpful when you are using small aperatures >16 in normal light.
    Off camera flash can be helpful, or use reflector/diffuser to balance light.
    A tripod is not an option it is a must.
    Last edited by Ken MT; 9th March 2012 at 07:26 AM.

  12. #12

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    Re: Flower photography

    Richard, Dan, Glenn and Ken. Thank you for taking the time to help. I'll print off this page

  13. #13
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    Re: Flower photography

    Dave, it also depends on what you want to photograph. Geoff's suggestion for instance is good, but it wouldn't work for me. I tend to walk around in gardens (where I visit, at home would be different of course) or areas with flowers and try to get as many macro shots as I can.
    To make this work I need good light, manual settings (often F/11 and 1/250sec) and sometimes a higher ISO. The 1/250 helps with wind problems, but if it is too windy I sometimes use my hand on the stem to steady the flower. My D7000 can adjust the ISO automatically if needed, so that I get some sort of automatic effect, even if the other settings are on M.

  14. #14

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    Re: Flower photography

    Thanks Peter. That was one thing I was thinking about. That picture I posted was in the grounds of a hotel. I couldn't set up everything there so it was a quick handheld shot.
    Thanks for the help.

  15. #15
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    Re: Flower photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
    With spring here in the UK, flowers are starting to show. Is there any tips on taking photos on flower anyone would like to share? Comp, framing etc.

    I had a 60mm macro lens on for this picture below, although I like it, I'm thinking what could I have done to improve it.

    Any kind of help at all on flower photography would be appreciated.




    My wife thinks this is a Camellia?

    Flower photography
    Watch the red channel - its easy to blow it. If you have a macro lens consider getting a focus rail & stacking the images. If you can shoot indoors to avoid the wind it will increase the number of opportunities for shooting. Try using a black background for outside shots- a piece of cloth will do. For a high key approach shoot indoors with a diffused flash behind the subject & diffused flash in front.

  16. #16

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    Re: Flower photography

    Thank you very much Jeff. I was just watching a youtube video about stacking

  17. #17
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    Re: Flower photography

    Hi Dave,

    I think flower photography is really subjective as to the effect you want. A bit of planning goes a long way. I rang the Mrs and asked her to get some flowers from somewhere. She got a bunch from Aldi (this is quite a cheap supermarket chain) for about three quid. This was one result;

    Flower photography

    It now hangs in the bedroom on canvas as it's one of the Mrs's favorites.

    And a bit of spray works wonders, as Richard has already mentioned.

  18. #18

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    Re: Flower photography

    Thanks Mark. That's a wonderful picture you have there I've been spraying some daffs today as it happens

  19. #19
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    Re: Flower photography

    Hi, Richard,

    A couple of things,

    To start, I do a lot of wildflower photography in national parks or other places where cutting or otherwise damaging the flower or moving anything as it stands just isn't allowed. The motto for all these places is: Leave nothing but footprints. This means no messing with the flowers as they stand (or the dirt they're planted in or the other plant that interferes with getting the "perfect" shot). Especially it means no dead flowers. It means not removing rocks, dirt, plants, etc. Well, you get the idea.

    Some of the ones that have been most successful for specimen photo are ones where I have the same stem from three angles: Straight down into its throat from the top of the stem (which may NOT be perpendicular to the ground); one at about 45 degrees to the bloom at the top of the stem (the way most desert wildflowers seem to grow unless they're clusters of some sort like the apricot mallow); and finally, straight on from the side so as to get a profile of the entire plant from the ground to the top of the bloom such that the shape and other characteristics of the leaves are captured and the shape of the bloom will be clear. I also take at least one photo from the top and one photo from the side with a 30cm ruler behind and to the side of the bloom (top view) or stem (side view). Then, I may wind up with one or more "artsy" shots with extremely small DoF to emphasize either the bloom or the stem and out-of-focus mountains or dunes in the background or, in some pictures of old technology, I have the DoF set so that I get a very hazy fog (if that's what's up that morning) or a hazy sunset or sunrise illuminating whatever the technology may be.

    Hope this helps.

    v

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