Snapshot Dilletante: Photographing Flowers

Kind and gentle readers have complimented me on my garden photographs, so I thought I would share what little advice I, a total amateur at photographing flowers, can give. There is much advice I can’t give, such as the best equipment, or technical information, but from a “point and shoot” standpoint of someone who loves pictures of pretty plants, here are my “two cents.”

GET OUT. You only capture what’s out there if you’re out there with your camera. This morning there was frost again. I looked out the window holding my cup of coffee and thought, “There’s nothing new.” How wrong I was. What little frost was left by the time I actually left the comfort of my kitchen was stunning. If only I had captured it on the dark red foliage of the coral bells or peonies before it melted!

GET UP. There are opportunities at daybreak. It’s about the light, the dew, and the chill. The light’s a little softer, rosier, and it comes from an angle. Your leaves and petals can glow with the glorious rays of dawn, and just as they do at dusk. Light skimming the surface can reveal texture you might not have seen before. Morning offers dew to adorn the flowers and foliage with pearls of light, and if it’s cold enough, there’s frost’s fabulous tracery making plants practically drip diamonds. The chill can also hold some insects for you, while you snap your photo, that can add a certain something.

GET WET. It may not be the most pleasant experience to soak through the knees of your pants getting that photo, but it can be so worth it. Just as the knees of your jeans are a darker blue from kneeling in the grass, the colors of your photographs can be saturated as well. Even dirt looks richer. Is rain on the blossoms classic or cliche? You decide.

LOOK TO THE HORIZON. The weather, the clouds, have an effect on the light and so affect your pictures. An overcast sky can protect your flowers from looking bleached by bright sunlight. The sky also sets a mood, such as the tension of storm clouds or happy bright blue sky. You may not like moody people, but love moody pictures.

WIDEN YOUR HORIZON. If you’re like me, you can have tunnel vision. Invite me to your garden, I won’t see the weeds, just the flowers, because that’s what I care about. In a photo, the background matters. In my posts so far, there are two examples that especially bother me. One is the bleeding heart with the electrical box visually cupped in the foliage, the other, the horizon is tilted in the background of a magnolia. Don’t be like me. See beyond what you’re photographing because most people can see the weeds.

CONSIDER ALL THE ANGLES. People walk by flowers all the time and never think to look. You’re thinking and looking. Look closer, and from different angles. Unlike a person who wouldn’t be flattered by photos of the pores of their nose, especially up their nose, flowers can take a close-up shot from odd and unusual angles. Sometimes the closer, sometimes even the odder, the better.

GET OFF CENTER. Go ahead and take that picture when the flower is right smack dab in the middle of the frame, but don’t forget to take others where it’s knocked off center. Maybe it should peek in from the corner or an edge. Move your camera around. It’s alright. The flower will wait.

THE FANCIEST EQUIPMENT IN YOUR BAG IS YOU. What are you trying to say? What is it about that scene that makes you want to take that picture? Make me see a flower I may have seen a hundred times in a way I’ve never seen before. Keep your “thousand words” in focus and your photo will speak for you.

Though I may fall short of my own photographic ideals, I hope these suggestions help you in yours. Feel free to add your suggestions in the “comments” section below.

11 Responses to “Snapshot Dilletante: Photographing Flowers”

  1. All excellent points to consider! I think you did a brilliant job offering a lesson in how to capture images. Well done!

  2. I’m no professional. Not even an amateur. But I do enjoy taking photos and you offer great points to consider! Thank you!

  3. LubbyGirl Says:

    Man, loved reading this! Some good advice in this. I love taking pictures of flowers and trees and – yes – even weeds! LOL Gotta get up early one morning and try this. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Morning light is amazing, but whenever you see what sparks you, snap it. If you take pictures of weeds, I’ll have to see them, and I bet enjoy them, too!

      • LubbyGirl Says:

        Talk about inspiration! or…is it…obsession??? LOL Anyway, what do you think I did this morning? Before I even got my first cup of coffee? Yup – outside with the camera, focusing on the weeds in my back yard. I think that falls more under obsession…eh? I reckon my hubby thinks that anyway, since he had to get his own first cup of coffee this morning. 🙂 I’ll be posting a couple of those pics later, either on theREmissionary or on Down The Road and Around the Bend. I don’t put links in comments, though…is that OK??

      • You can add links, just make sure they’re to flower porn and not porn porn.

  4. porn porn…ewwww! hate it!! OK, I’ll try that – still very, very new to this blogging thing though. 🙂

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