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Creative Flower Photography
Here are some creative techniques to improve your macro flower photography skills!
Get in close
It is sometimes fun to eliminate the background completely (or mostly) and just focus on what the flower has to offer. There are no rules as to what part of the flower you have to shoot, just get creative! Sometimes I shoot the center with the stamens, sometimes the outer petals, or sometimes the outside of a closed bud. If the inside of the flower is dark and causing exposure problems, try adding some fill light with a reflector or diffused flash (positioned slightly off to the side).
Include complimentary colors
This is one of my favorite techniques, and is not promoted nearly enough. Used properly, along with proper composition it can add some real impact to your pictures! If you haven’t pulled out your Color Wheel in a while, now’s the time to do it! If you haven’t heard of this technique, read more about it Here. Basically, if you have an orange, include a violet (which is directory opposite from orange on a color wheel) in there. As you can see in my example to the right, I used a yellow/orange flower with purple/violet background.
“Shoot through” other flowers
If the title does not make it clear, this technique is basically having foreground flowers “intruding” into your picture. They will be knocked right out of focus (if they are close enough to the lens) and give a nice “soft” and sometimes “gradient” effect to your picture. Once again, if your foreground elements can compliment the color of the main subject, even better! In some cases, however, using a similar color as that of the main subject adds an interesting effect.
Include 3 or more in the frame
Got a few of the same flower? Use them! I like to find 3, 5, or more of the same thing in a row and shoot “down the line” so to speak. You’ll generally want to have a bit of a broader depth-of-field for this one so the other flowers don’t turn into out-of-focus blobs. If you are wondering why I mentioned 3 and 5, as a general rule, use only odd numbers. Having 2 or even 4 can make the composition look a little odd.
Use a narrow depth-of-field
If you want some really abstract affects, try opening up your aperture and utilizing that narrow DOF (depth-of-field). Although this technique can be overused, it is one of my favorites nonetheless. When using this technique, get right inside the flower, or focus on one portion of the flower. This is especially nice when you have some pastel colors to work with! Over exposing a little can also enhance those pastel colors.
Make double exposures
A lot of cameras allow you to do a double exposure right inside the camera. If your camera doesn’t have this feature, use photoshop, you’ll get similar results. You can get quite creative with this by adjusting the focus in the second picture, or moving the camera slightly. This may result in quite abstract and awesome looking results. As with most techniques like this, be careful not to overuse it.
Watch your lighting
As I’ve mentioned in my previous article, this is extremely important. Most of these tips and techniques are best used with the soft light given by an overcast sky. Early morning and late afternoon light can sometimes be used, but it’s more challenging to get pleasing results. Also, a diffuser is an option of you want to shoot with bright sunlight. One of the many advantages to shooting while it’s overcast, is the colors will really “pop” with vibrance, especially just after a rainstorm.
Did I forget to include your favorite technique? Let me know what it is by leaving a comment!