Flowers are wonderful to look at, mostly symmetrical with soft flowing edges, bright colors, and varied sizes and shapes. The great thing about photography and flowers are they go hand in hand. The truth is you really do not need specialized equipment to capture beautiful flower photos. I encourage you for when you are out on your next outing - take 5 minutes to take a couple of flower photos. Once you do, it is habit-forming and every time you go out you will begin to see more and more flowers.
Below are some of my Techniques to getting the best images. Starting in the spring and all through the summer, you will find flowers everywhere.
Finding Flowers: Sounds simple right? A good starting point is just to get out to your local park and take a stroll. In North America, You can find wildflowers starting in late March all the way through the first frost. I have my favorite areas, these are normally found in areas that have open fields and trails with plenty of sunlight coming down to the ground. Flowers can be found almost anywhere, in darker areas, along marshes, close to flowing water, or growing in fields in vast numbers. If you are just starting out in a new area or just now becoming interested in flower photography your first season will be a learning experience. I have covered my area for a couple of years by walking, hiking, and driving many miles each month. So now I have a "flower map" in my head depending on the time of year. Do a google search for wildflowers for your location, this will give you an idea of what you may run across, or if you like a challenge try to photograph each species. This lady slipper is a rare find especially in the wild and I was lucky to find a small grouping on this wonderful morning day.
Yellow spring flower taken with a Nikon 105mm Macro Lens
The Gear: As stated and promised you do not need specialized gear. You can take your current camera and kit lens and enjoy fine flower photography. The point here is get out and enjoy life. After your first year, if you are like me you may find a need to add a macro and flash to your bag for optimal results. Otherwise, plan your outings that favor the early to mid-morning light, take a lunch break, and then got out in the afternoon for some softer lighting with a possible sunset as an added benefit. My favorite flower lens is a Nikkor 60mm on an FX body and sometimes on a DX body depending on my mood. The great thing about the 60mm is it has close focusing for fine details or I can pull back a bit and capture the entire flower. The other cheap item to pack along is a small fold-able reflector. Even when I am outfitted for birds I sometimes find a great flower and shoot away, nothing wrong with a good opportunity.
Pink and White spring flower
The Time of Day: Any time you enjoy photography is the right time. My best images I captured are mostly in the morning, maybe that relates to my preference of starting early - but I have hundreds and hundreds taken from sunrise to sunset, It is a matter of finding the right angle and getting your exposure & white balance right. Most flowers growing wild will be scattered in areas, so even if you find one that is too harshly lighted, just look around and find one in filtered light and pull out that reflector I mentioned. The bumblebee photo was taken as the sun was high, I just focused on the flower as he came in for a landing.
Large orange flower - Nikon 105mm Macro
The Challenges of Great Flower Photography
Your Exposure: For me this is ONE of the most challenging aspects of great flower photography. The bright Yellows, Reds, Whites, can trick a camera meter and you will have blown out highlights and details. For Reds Whites and Yellows I dial down my exposure by 1/3 stop or even more to ensure I get the highlights and if you have not heard check your histogram, please do. If anything I prefer a slightly underexposed image, I normally can always fix the shadows but the highlights can never be fixed if they are blown out. If you are in luck and your camera has an R G B histogram please use it, very useful for flowers. Why not use all the FREE tools your camera offers? One of the biggest benefits to my photography is learning my camera and settings.
White flowers taken in spring
Weather: Friend of Foe? Wind = Foe. Some rain can add drama to your images, Spring showers, and summer rain showers can really drive your creative talents, allow it to happen and use it as a creative tool, those raindrops on the flower is awesome. Be prepared, carry a plastic bag big enough to shelter your equipment if a downpour occurs - been there done that. When the wind is howling, little you can do to get a good sharp image, you may consider a creative long exposed motion blur as your saving grace.
Get Out: Your first step is packing up your gear and go out and shoot. You will feel better, refreshed, and rewarded and ultimately have an appreciation for nature and live and the animals that depend on it. Life is special and rewarding so, photograph it! get out and go for it!
- Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 ED Macro
- Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Micro
- Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
- Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF ED VR
- Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 ED FL VR
- Nikkor 600mm f/4 FL ED VR
- Nikkor 200mm f/4 ED Macro
- Nikon D500
- Nikon D810
- Nikon D800