How to Take Beautiful Flower Photographs
Photography: A Rewarding Hobby
Taking pictures of flowers can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Because of the infinite number of flowers, there's no end to what you can find. Often, flowers are colorful and the resulting pictures can be very attractive. However, there are tips that can make flower photography more satisfying.
Although I will delve into some photography detail, I don't want to be too technical. Beginning and intermediate photographers will find this article most useful. I'm hoping it will encourage you to start taking photos. Enjoy the hobby as I do.
Note: All pictures are my own. I have not used any effects in any of these pictures or cropped any of them. All photos are in camera.
Type of Camera
Most people these days take pictures with a phone. To be honest, it kind of stings my soul when I see this. Of course, a phone can take a fine picture. In fact, many phones these days take really good pictures. However, there's no substitute for a good camera and a high-quality lens. Think about it. You don't see professional photographers use their phones unless it's an emergency. The problem with a phone is the aperture, which is the part of the camera that lets in light. A phone camera can only let in so much light, so there's a limit to the detail in the picture.
If you want to take high quality photographs, suitable for framing, invest in a good camera. You can purchase a variety of good cameras that will take a really good picture for under $1,000.
However, keep in mind, purchasing a good lens is also smart. And a good lens can cost more than your camera.
Type of Lens
I have a Sony a6000, which is not an expensive camera. However, I have a couple of extra lenses. Together, they cost more than the camera. One is a fixed 1.8 50mm lens. Generally, most people like to have a single lens that does everything. Most camera kits come with such a lens. Usually, it zooms from 35mm to 90mm or something like that. However, the aperture will be something like 4.5 or 5.6, which won't let in enough light. That means it will be hard to take certain types of photos. A fixed lens with a low aperture can take a picture in almost any light. It's an essential lens for any camera bag.
My other lens is a fixed 30mm 3.5 macro lens. The macro allows the lens to focus at very close distances. I took most of the photos in this article with my macro lens. If you want to take great flower photography, a macro lens is essential. The nice thing about a macro lens is that it can take regular pictures too. So, there's a lot of flexibility.
What's Your Camera?
What kind of camera do you use to take most of your pictures?
Depth of Field
Depth of field is a photography term that refers to the amount of any picture that's in focus. You can change depth of field based on your aperture setting. The smaller your aperture setting, the lower your depth of field. The larger your aperture setting, the greater your depth of field.
Particularly with flowers, depth of field can allow your subject to shine. In other words, if the flower is in focus and everything else is fuzzy, the eye goes to the flower. In some pictures, like the one below, you can use depth of field to bring out character. Below is a field of flowers, but only one is in focus. If everything in this photo were in focus, it would be boring. I wouldn't be drawing your eye to any particular spot.
Sometimes the photography is its own reward. Sometimes getting out in nature is its own reward. Combine both and it's often doubly rewarding.
Exercise and Photography
Unless you have a really nice garden, taking good flower pictures requires travel. Of course, it can be local travel. A short walk will produce good variety. Because I live near the mountains, I frequently take my camera on hikes. Hiking offers the chance to take pictures of wonderful wildflowers. Additionally, it allows me to get exercise, to take my time, to enjoy nature. There's an old saying: "stop and smell the roses". Perhaps I'd rephrase that saying: "stop and take pictures of the roses". Both mean that taking the time to enjoy nature is its own reward.
Not Everything Has to Be in Focus
Most people take scenic photos where everything is in focus. Most phones take pictures where everything is focus. Thus, most people think a picture is only good if everything is in focus.
Not only is this wrong, but it's not even true for a single subject, like a flower. If you look at the picture below, not all of the flower is in focus. This is because the aperture is wide open and I'm very close to the subject and it's a macro lens. Consequently, parts of the flower are not in focus. However, that's not necessary for it to be a good picture. In this case, it's all about where your eye goes. The part of the flower that's different from the rest is in focus. That's where your eye goes. I'm drawing your attention to that part. If the whole flower was in focus, your eye wouldn't go to any one spot. That's one way to take good pictures. Try to draw the viewer's eye to one spot through composition or focus.
Don't Always Center Your Subject
Would the photo below be better if I centered the flower? It wouldn't. The same goes for pictures of people. One's eye naturally moves to the center of any picture. Thus, if your subject is in the middle, your brain doesn't have to do any work. Usually, an interesting photo keeps its subject off-center. This allows the photographer to create balance and to use color differently. Symmetry is fine sometimes, but in most good photography, the photographer rarely centers the subject.
Favorite Photography Subjects
What are your favorite photography subjects?
A Note on Camera Types
There are generally three types of camera people buy that's not a phone. First is a basic digital camera with a fixed lens where you can't change lenses. These are cheap and easy to carry. The picture quality is about the same as your phone, maybe a little better.
The second type is a mirrorless SLR. These cameras are small, like a basic digital camera, but can different lenses you can use.
The third type of camera is a digital SLR. These camera are what you see professional photographers use. They're larger and have interchangeable lenses.
I'm a strong advocate for the mirrorless SLR. They can take pictures as good as a regular SLR in most cases. However, they're much smaller. I used to own a regular SLR and when I went on vacation, it took up half my luggage. So I switched to a mirrorless SLR and couldn't be happier. I've provided a link for the very camera I own below. I recommend either just buying the body and getting your own lenses or buying the body with a single lens. Remember, you'll still want to buy a couple high quality lenses if you want to take great photographs.
Sony Mirrorless SLR a6000
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