Are your photos of flowers not turning out how you’d like? Get five tips for capturing flowers like never before! Then, see here for a chance to take the online Craftsy class Photographing Flowers with macro-photography expert Harold Davis, and learn even more essential exposure, focus, and macro techniques for shooting captivating floral photography.
1. Use mirror lockup if you’re using a tripod.
For macro flower shots, if you are using a tripod, you should generally use mirror lockup (if hand-held there is no point in mirror lockup and it isn’t workable). With the camera on a tripod, there is no downside to mirror lockup—it can only help with vibrations. Somewhat counter-intuitively, mirror lockup is most important at fairly fast shutter speeds (by macro standards), between 1/60 of a second to 2 seconds. With exposures longer than 2 seconds it matters less, because the vibrations caused by the mirror plopping down are a less significant percentage of the total exposure!
2. Capture artistic photos by stacking your filters.
Play with techniques like selective focus, in-camera multiple exposure, deliberate under- or overexposure, stacking your filters, and more. When stacking your filters, stack the ND (Neutral Density) filter first, because it is double threaded and the polarizer is not. This also works better because you need to be able to rotate the outer element of the polarizer. You also probably wouldn’t want to shoot with the polarizer going through another piece of glass! Make sure to compensate for your filters by increasing your exposure.
3. Use a contrasting, uncluttered background.
Try photographing flowers from behind or underneath to capture a different point of view. Get in a position where nothing distracts from your subject, and the focus is on your main flower. To make your flower pop even more, while maintaining balance in your composition, try to position the flower against a background with a contrasting color. For example, photograph a red flower against a sea of green grass or a yellow flower against a deep blue sky.
4. Avoid grain degradation when printing by selecting the right ISO.
The ISO you need to avoid grain degradation when you are printing an enlargement of a photograph depends on many variables, including the sensor and the camera you are using. Recent models are much better about processing relatively high ISOs without noise becoming out of hand. Also, the size of print you will make has a big impact. Finally, don’t forget that underexposure is one of the biggest causes of noise when you boost the dark areas. All that said, when using a Nikon D800 you might be relatively comfortable going up to ISO 800, just to provide a basis for comparison. Remember that the craft of photography is largely a craft of trade-offs.
5. Stop and smell the roses.
Have fun with the process and take your time. As you’re walking, make sure you’re paying attention and seeing all the possibilities. Rather than photographing every flower, go with the things that really catch your eye and speak to you the most about a particular spot, whether they’re small or large. Once you find an intriguing subject, take a few minutes approaching it from all sorts of angles before settling on your composition.
Now that you have a few new ideas for inspiration, take the next step toward capturing mind-blowing macro photography, when you see here for a chance to take best-selling author Harold Davis’ online Craftsy class Photographing Flowers. Get access to seven easy-to-follow video lessons you can watch anytime, anywhere (even on-the-go), forever.
What tips and tricks do you have for photographing flowers?
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