What's the best type of day to take photos of flowers? Surprisingly, not when you're taking that stroll through a wonderful garden on a sunny day. Bright overhead sun creates harsh shadows and can wash out colour.
Take photos on bright overcast days or step out just after the rain has stopped and it's still cloudy. The overcast sky acts as a large soft box removing harsh shadows and enhancing colour. After a fresh rain colours are also intensified.
If you can't avoid the sun try take an in-camera double exposure. By combining one exposure that's sharp with another that's out of focus you can reduce the amount of harsh contrast and create a glow around the flower. It's important to either use a tripod, or if hand holding the shot, keep your camera as steady as possible.
Another option on sunny days is to take the photo while the flower in covered in shade, or create your own shade with a hat.
Isolate the flower and remove clutter by changing your perspective and simplify the background. This allows the flower to stand out.
Alternatively, if you can't simplify the background this way, use a widest aperture available on the lens (F2.8 for example), and use the longest focal setting (for example 200mm) to blur the background. This isolates the flower by blurring the background.
Create a visual pattern. This works well if there are many flowers in a field or if there's a bunch of flowers in the garden. Look for interesting or repeating patterns and textures to lead the eye through the image.
Take a close up! If you have a lens with macro capability zooming into a portion of the flower can provide opportunities to make wonderful images. Be careful with your focus however, as the depth of field will be very shallow.
Thought for the Day
“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.” – Ansel Adams
Eric David is a visual artist / fine art photographer that lives and works in Toronto.