Category Archives: Flower Photography

Spring Photo – Bradford Pear Blossom

Spring – Charge up your batteries and be prepared!

I love spring, but over the last 2-3 years, the weather has been very warm. Spring is over in a few weeks, and summer is here. It looks like that will happen again this year. Flowers bloom and wilt in just a few days. For example, my daffodils bloomed a couple of weeks early and lasted less than a week.

That’s why the title. Keep your camera ready and available.

Bradford Pear Blossom MacroThis photo was taken on a cloudy morning. The conditions were perfect for the kind of results I was trying to achieve. I wanted a very artistic feel to this picture, and I think it looks pretty good.

The Technique

My neighbor has two small Bradford pears, one of which is right next to my driveway. The location is perfect, yet most days, it is too bright for a dark picture. I would have to cut a flower from the tree, and I did not want to ask permission.

I took a piece of black felt and clamped one end to a tree branch and the other to an extended light stand. I then took a picture using Aperture Priority in order to see what the results were, but also to see what the camera meter was using for exposure.

Here is my first shot:

Bradford Pear first shot
Test shot of bradford pear

You have to agree that it is not all that impressive. I set the aperture at F6.3 and the camera set the shutter speed at 1/80 of a second. Notice that the whites are a bit too bright and the black background actually looks purple.

I changed the mode to Manual. Aperture was still F6.3, but I set the shutter speed at 1/250 sec. In my opinion, the difference was stunning.

Post processing: I used Photoshop to make a few adjustments.

Basically, I added a small amount of vignette and cropped out a small piece of white in one corner. I also desaturated the photo about 25% and added grain at a setting of 33.

That’s it! I only took 8 shots in about 5 minutes and spent about 5 minutes looking and editing on the computer.

How To Do Flower Macro Photography – Tips For Amateur Photographers

Flower Macro Photography Is Fun

Plus, as an added bonus, taking pictures of flowers builds your confidence as a photographer.

flower macro - sunflower in perfect condition

Consider these benefits:

  • No client to deal with, therefore, no negative feedback
  • They don’t blink and ruin a great shot
  • They stay where you put them
  • They won’t miss the appointment

Flowers are your friends!

T

aking these kinds of pictures is not very hard, even if you don’t own the best equipment. The best way to start is by calling up some patience from within. Patience is the key because you probably won’t get your best shot the first time you press the shutter button. In fact, it may take many shots before you get some you are satisfied with.

Here are the key points for flower macro photography:

  1. The lighting is crucial
  2. Image sharpness is also critical
  3. A blurry background can make or mess up your picture
  4. A perfect flower gives you a much better chance of success

Once again, notice that equipment is not mentioned. Because you can modify your equipment so that it works for you in this kind of photography.

magnolia flower macro

OK, let’s dive in and see how these photos are done.

1. Lighting is crucial

Photography is all about light, and flower macros are no different. You want nice soft (as opposed to harsh) lighting. And natural light is the best kind. Some of the best light will be available in front of windows or in shaded areas. As a rookie, you definitely want to avoid dappled light or direct sunlight in the middle of a bright day.

If you are photographing a flower in a pot, this part is easy. Just move the flower. But if you are taking pictures of flowers in natural settings outside, plan your shot for early or late in the day. And if that is not possible, use some kind of light diffuser like an umbrella or even a piece of white cloth like a white shirt stretched across a tennis racket.

2. Sharpness will make or break your photo

Macro photography MUST have sharp focus on the subject. If the pictures ain’t sharp, delete ’em. Seriously. Don’t keep out of focus pictures on your computer. They take up valuable space, and you will never use them.. because they are not sharp.

In order to take great, sharp pictures, get help. Help comes from a tripod or some other way to steady your camera. I personally have used lots of different ways to steady my camera. Rocks, tables, chairs, garbage cans, and camera bags are just a few suggestions.

3. Try for a blurry background.

While a sharp focus is critical, having the background out of focus will add just as much to your flower image. You want your flower to “pop” out and be noticed. If the background distracts, that is not possible.

There are three ways to get a blurry background.

  • The first way is to use a very large aperture. This is possible with one of the better cameras. Set your camera on Aperture mode and select the setting with the smallest number (f 1.8 is a good example).
  • The second way to get a blurry background is to use the Macro setting on your camera. Macro usually is represented by a little tulip icon on the mode dial.
  • The third way is to move the flower farther away from the background. The farther away the background is, the blurrier it will be.

4. Choose a perfect flower.

Maybe this should have been the first item in the list. After all, it is really important that the petals are flawless. Pay attention to this detail. If you are not photographing the entire flower, pick the part of the flower that is perfect. Flaws that are not in the picture don’t matter.

So now, back to the idea of patience. If you are new to flower macro photography, keep at it. Think about what you want to accomplish with your picture and work at it. Adjust the light, or steady your camera, or work on getting the blurry background.

When all three of these come together, you will be more likely to be proud of your picture.

Now it’s your turn. Get your camera and get to work.

There are many more ways to improve your photography. Sign up for my Free resource book: 13 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Photography Without Spending a Dime. Just enter your email address below.

My New Canon EF-S 60mm Macro

I do believe that it’s love at first snap!

This is one of the first shots I took with this new macro lens.
This is one of the first shots I took with this new macro lens.

My Very First EF-S Lens

I have been wanting a Canon ef-s 60mm macro lens for quite some time. I just needed a good excuse to get it, and, of course, I needed the cash. Well, this week the stars were all lined up perfectly, and this afternoon, the lens was delivered before I arrived home.

Made this video about the EF-S 60mm lens with the grandkids.. such fun!

It is actually my very first EF-S lens at any focal length. This kind of lens is only for DSLR cameras that are not full frame. They are referenced as “crop sensor” or APS-C sensor cameras. The reason I have not purchased one before is that I intended to eventually get a full frame camera. However, I am totally satisfied with my Rebels. And I am not going pro anytime soon. EF-S lenses also work on other Canon models, such as 60D, 70D, and 7D, which are really powerful, darn near professional cameras.

When I wrote this post, I had only taken about 15 shots, but every one was totally acceptable with respect to quality and sharpness. It could be photography heaven LOL

Most of the pictures I shot were very close up, but here is one where I stepped back a couple of feet..
tickseed flowers with Canon EF-S 60mm macro lens
Not bad, right?

Value For Bucks

In my humble opinion, this lens is pretty darn good. It costs about $350, which is an excellent price for an honest-to-goodness macro lens.

One of the most important things to check when looking for a lens is what others think about it. In the case of the Canon EF-S 60mm macro, it has a 4.8 star rating. That is an awesome rating.

(If you are interested in purchasing, please use the link to Amazon. Amazon is a trusted online seller, and it will help me to keep doing what I love to do – take more pictures and maintain my website.)

New Garden Photos – Dahlia Flower Photography

I love taking pictures of flowers, especially in my own yard. Flower photography has risen to the top as my favorite thing to photograph. I have been waiting for my first Dahlia to bloom (and I mean EVER – I never knew there was such a flower), and today I received the reward for my patience.

There are actually dahlia clubs and societies. I have several varieties planted around my yard. Our friends who own a nursery in Montana introduced us to these amazing flowers. Maybe I will be joining one of those societies someday. (LOL – I’m not really a “society” kind of guy.)

Pink Dahlia with Canon T3iThe method I used for this shot is not exactly a beginner’s photography technique, but it is not too difficult. I will try to explain the method so you can try it with your camera.

I took this in manual mode so that I could darken the background. I also used a new softbox attachment for my speedlite flash so I could close the aperture (larger number = closed more). When you don’t have enough light to illuminate the entire area, the flash will lighten the flower. I really like the way it turned out.

So, here is the setting info:

  • Canon Rebel T3i
  • Tamron 28-75mm lens for Canon
  • Manual Mode
  • Aperture: f/9.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/200
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Canon Speedlite 320 with a Fotodiox 6″ x 8″ softbox
  • Flash at full strength
  • Hand-held

You can do the same thing without the Speedlite. Just set your Rebel on Manual and choose a shutter speed of 1/200. This is the “sync” speed of your Rebel, meaning that when you are using a flash, the shutter speed can’t go any faster than 1/200.

Choose an aperture that is a fairly high number. This will close the aperture and darken the background while the flash lights the subject. If there is a bright sun, this may not work as well, but you can try using something to shade the subject if there is too much light.

Yellow dahlia - flower photography techniques
The next bloom will undoubtedly be yellow.

Flower photography with flash for dark backgroundHere is another example of the same method. (These are not dahlias)

  • Manual Mode
  • Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens @ 28mm
  • F/9.0
  • 1/200 sec
  • ISO 100
  • Canon Speedlite 320ex with Fotodiox 6″ x 8″ softbox
Dahlia with Canon SL1
This is the same flower as shown above, only 2 days later. Glorious!

If you have any questions about the method or explanation, please feel free to leave a comment.

Spring Is A Great Time For Flower Photographery

Flower Photography Is Easy In The Spring
(here are a few tips that I have found helpful)

change perspective
This daffodil is growing in my front yard.

The first sign of spring for me is the daffodils.

Tip #1: Always have your camera handy.

I will never forget my first trip to visit the area where I now live. It was during Spring Break – April. I had to stop and take pictures of the daffodils by the side of the road even before we reached our destination. They were beautiful. I still love them.

Right along with the blooming of the daffodils comes the willow tree buds. It is truly amazing how one day there are a few tiny buds and the next day, the tree is practically covered with leaves. The color of the first leaves is quite different than later when the tree has settled into full leaf. It is more of a bright, lime green.. very refreshing.

I am trying to notice now the chronological order of spring blooms. As of today, April 6, SpringFlowers-abundanthere is what I have blooming around me:

  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinths
  • Bartlett pear trees
  • Cherry trees – all varieties
  • Poppies
  • Tulips
  • Creeping phlox
  • Azaleas (just starting)

I will update as more flowers and trees awaken.

Shoot earlyTip #2 – Get Out Early

They are called “the Golden Hours” for a very good reason. Your so-called ability as a photographer is sometimes no more than knowing and following through on what you know. Every nature photographer will tell you that the best hours for flower photography are early or late, but I prefer early.

I love the dew drops that form just before dawn. And the light is so different than when the sun makes its way high into the sky.

Set your alarm clock if you must, but get out early.

Tip #3 – Change Your Perspective

Even though the flowers look fantastic, a normal picture as you stand in front will just get mild appreciation, and you will be disappointed most of the time. With flower photography, or any other type of photography, you need to really practice the concept of thinking about the final image as you shoot, not after it’s too late and you are looking at the images on your computer. Here are a few ideas to change your perspective.

  • Get down on the level with your subject.
  • Get under the subject and shoot up.
  • Shoot through the foliage to capture the glint of sunlight.
  • Change your position to add or eliminate from the background.

Shoot macroTip #4 – Shoot Macro (close-ups)

The details of flowers never cease to WOW me. Shoot a single blossom or even part of a flower. Make sure you steady your camera for this, possibly using a tripod or your camera bag as a tripod.

Tip #5 – Use Aperture Priority

This is a bit more techy, but it will pay off in spades. I usually go for a large aperture. Large apertures are the smaller numbers, like f/2.8 or f/4.

Using large apertures will give that nice blurry background that you desire. It sets the flower off as the star of your image.

I have written more about the subject of flower photography, especially Spring flowers at Squidoo. Here is the link: Photography Tips For Spring Flowers.