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Flower Photography: The Five Secrets They Never Told You

Flower photography is probably the most explored area of amateur photography, but the results for many people are never in touch with what they saw.

This article intends to give you the basic understanding of what can be done to get pictures of flowers that will make your friends envy you. Yes, exposure has to be right, and a good camera and lens do help, but I’ve taken photos of flowers with anything from DSLR to compacts and I’ve found that what is most important is not the mechanical side of things, but the way you SEE.

1- SEE, to really photograph flowers you cannot just snapshoot and go away. Try to sit down at flower level and really look at them. It’s when you sit and watch, that you discover more than the casual photographer does.

2 – Also, play with your lens and the options it gives you to do something different. Forget the automatic everything and use manual or a program that let’s you control the aperture. And do get close. Compact cameras are great in this area because they let you go close, so close that sometimes you just get a little bit of the flower. Go for that, sometimes less is more. You don’t need to have the whole flower in the frame to tell people what you want.

3 – Control your depth of field. One of the worst things people do when photographing flowers is using too small an aperture. That leads to having everything in focus, what is right for your eyes but can get very confusing with flowers. See the white poppy example. Which do you prefer?

4 – Use contrasting colors as much as possible for the background, but don’t give up when faced with the same colors in the frame. Use the defocusing capacity of your lens to get the picture. Use light and shadow to define separation lines between the flower and the rest. Don’t be ashamed to repeat shot after shot after shot. It’s the best way to learn. And sometimes the way to learn that you better give up that particular image and look for an alternative.

5 – You don’t need to have everything in focus when photographing flowers. Choose an angle that let’s you have the maximum of detail with controlled depth of field and explore from there. Also, remember that when you’re down at flower level everything in front and behind the flower that is not in focus works as a softener veil that can create a totally different mood in the picture. Explore that capacity for flowers that look like no other.

Armed with these suggestions – and the hint of the photographs published here – I bet you’ll soon be taking home very different photographs of flowers.

~Jose Antunes