8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Adam Carter – CC BY 2.0

Wildflowers are one of the most well-known and best-loved types of photography –and for good reason, these minute blossoms are bright and beautiful, adding life and vibrant color to a composition.

In the fall and winter months, beautiful snow-capped berries, delicate ice-etched leaves, and hardy winter plants can all feature in your close-up nature photography. Winter is also a good time to pay a visit to the garden, where there’s a good chance there will be some resilient plants and maybe even flowers, still holding on.

Whether you’re hoping to incorporate some wildflowers and plant life into your landscape images, or looking to do some close-up nature photography, here are a few tips for including plants and wildflowers in your images.

→ Related reading: Tips for Macro Flower Photos

1. Bring the Right Equipment

While you can capture flowers and plant life with any camera –and lens that you have, having some specialist gear will help to improve your results –and make it easier to get the images you’re after.

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Virginia State Parks – CC BY 2.0

  • A Tripod

While you might not consider your tripod to be essential gear when shooting wildflowers, it will prove to be invaluable –allowing you to steady the camera for close-ups or landscape images.

  • A Diffuser

A diffuser will help to filter out some the light coming from your camera’s flash, resulting in softer, more natural lighting. This is especially helpful for those times when you will be shooting in less-than-optimal lighting conditions, and require some additional light.

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  • A Reflector

Reflectors are another helpful tool for capturing close-ups of flowers or plants. A reflector will help to reflect additional light onto the flower, eliminating dark shadows, and improving the quality of the image.

  • Lens

While you’ll want to use a wide angle lens to capture sweeping landscapes and beautiful vistas, if you’re going up-close with your flower photography –you’ll want to bring along a telephoto lens to zoom in closer to the flower. You’ll also want to consider a dedicated macro lens –which will allow you to focus on flowers or plants that are close to the end of the lens. Remember to use a small aperture –a larger f-stop number, for clear, crisp focus throughout your scene.

→ Related reading: What Lens Should I Use for Flower Photography?

2. Choose the Right Flower or Plant

If you’re capturing up-close images –not just any old plant or flower will do. Instead, remember that close-up photography tends to exaggerate minor imperfections, so look for a flower that’s in relatively good condition and avoid petals that are bug-eaten or leaves that are crumbling around the edges.

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Stuart Richards – CC BY-ND 2.0

3. Find a Good Angle

You’ll also want to think about the background behind the flower or plant, and consider whether you want it to contrast well with the flower –avoiding backgrounds that are busy or distracting. Keep in mind that the more distance there is between the flower and the background, the more blurred and out of focus the background will be. If the background is distracting, you could always get closer, and fill the entire frame with the flower head. Another idea is to get down low, and angle your camera to capture the flower with the sky in the background. Adjusting your perspective can open up new, exciting possibilities, so don’t be afraid to change your angle to try something new.

→ Related reading: How Perspective Impacts Landscape Photography

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Bureau of Land Management – CC BY 2.0

4. Look to Include Details

When you’re shooting wildflowers or small plants, keep your eyes open for details that could easily be overlooked. When capturing macro images, looking to include details such as raindrops, or tiny insects such as a bee or butterfly can help your photos to come to life. Just remember to use a fast shutter speed –and good lighting to freeze the image and capture the insect without blur.

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Bureau of Land Management – CC BY 2.0

5. Find Your Focal Point

Regardless of what type of images that you’re after –make sure your focal point is clear. When it comes to close-ups, keep in mind that a lens with a longer focal length can help to separate the flower or plant from the background by blurring out the distant details and helping to showcase the main point of interest. For landscapes –such as a field of flowers, you’ll want to take care to ensure that you have a clear focal point for your images, whether it’s a far-off mountain, a lone tree in the distance, or some interesting foreground details.

6. Adjust Your Camera Settings

The type of image that you’re after will help you to determine the camera settings you should use. If you’re looking to capture a field of flowers, and hoping to create an image where everything is in sharp focus, you’ll want to use a small aperture (large f-stop number) –and focus about one-third to halfway into the field to ensure that everything is sharp and clear. If you’re hoping to create an image where the foreground is sharp, and the rest of the image is blurred, shoot with a large aperture, and focus on the flowers that are nearest to you.

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8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Darren Flinders – CC BY-ND 2.0

7. Look for the Light

Lighting is important for any photograph, but when it comes to wildflowers this is certainly the case. The ideal time for shooting wildflowers is on a bright overcast day, when the cloud cover acts as a natural diffuser. For dark, cloudy days, or situations where you need a bit more lighting, using a reflector to help direct the light back onto the subject. Finally, if the lighting just isn’t working for you, you can always bring your flower or plant inside for an indoor photo shoot.

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Leslie De Blasio – CC BY 2.0

8. Watch Out for the Wind

Finally, the wind can be one of the biggest challenges when shooting wildflowers since even a slight breeze can move the flowers enough to cause blurring. In most cases, you’ll want to try to head out when it’s relatively calm –especially when you’re doing close-up images. If you find yourself shooting during a slight breeze –try to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion, and capture a still image.

8 Tips for Photographing Plants and Wildflowers

Image: Anne Worner – CC BY-SA 2.0

Whether you’re hoping to capture a field of flowers in the summer –or looking to draw out the isolated beauty of a solitary bud or berry in the winter –using the above tips will help you to create beautiful photographs –and capture amazing images of plants and wildflowers –no matter what the season!

License links: CC BY 2.0, CC BY-ND 2.0, CC BY-SA 2.0

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