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.