How To Take Great Pictures of Flowers
The photo (below) in this post of the Snowdrops in my backyard turned out very well. (See the full frame photo in my portfolio). But, it wasn't necessarily going to happen without a bit of planning before snapping the shutter.
Here are a few simple steps to consider when you are walking by a nice setting of flowers in order to increase the chances of taking a great shot.
If you simply photograph the flowers from waist height you would find that the angle is too high and the distance too great. Even if you got down on your knees the shot shown in this post would have been ruined by a background of garden mulch and then a chain link fence behind the flowers that existed in the real scene.
I remembered learning about building a photograph by beginning with the background. In this case I wanted a background that would contrast in black nicely with the white of the petals and the snow itself. To modify the view, I simply placed my black umbrella in behind the flowers with a few inches to allow for the background to be out of focus in the shot- quite simple and weather proof too!
I also know that close up photography is quite precise, especially when using available light. The key for sharp shots in these situations is to use a tripod, but alas, the lowest level of a regular tripod setting would be too high to get down to the flowers. So, I reversed the center column and then mounted the camera in the lowest position, upside down and near the ground.
With the camera in this position and the background umbrella in place it was relatively easy to focus by viewing through the adjustable LCD monitor. Since the depth of field can be quite shallow I used manual focus to focus on the nearest bloom for the first exposure and the furthest two blooms for the second exposure. The image in this post is a composite which maximizes the depth of field throughout the image.
So here's what I like to keep in mind:
1. take care of the background first. If you can screen out distractions behind the flowers you will have a better image.
2. get low and make sure you are using a tripod. Either reverse the center column or spread the tripod legs as far as possible to get low.
3. consider multiple images with your manual focus points on all key points in your scene. Then see if two or more shots need to be combined to use all of the sharpest points. I'm no expert, but I used Photoshop Elements 14 with the Photomerge function and it turned out fine.
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Photo credits: Grant Hughes.