Beautiful wildflowers will appear in a perfectly timed procession of magnificent blooms from one flower type to the next starting this month. Swamp irises, trilliums, lady’s slippers, lupines and fireweed all signal the passing weeks from spring into summer.
Photographing wildflowers is wonderful way to focus on the perfect beauty of creation and to enjoy nature. Given that they don’t run away, taking pictures of flowers can be easy with some basic photography equipment and a few techniques that greatly improve your opportunity to capture what you see.
Equipment – Any camera will do, but a tripod to steady the camera and a shutter release cable (if your camera will take one) will keep you from shaking the camera and blurring the image. It will improve your exposure options.
Weather – I love taking flower pictures on foggy, drizzly days. The soft light enhances the saturated colors of the flowers and the drops of water add interest to the scene. Light winds on a foggy day is perfect. Of course, you must keep yourself, or at least your camera, dry.
Settings – Get eye-to-iris when possible, which is to say at the level of the flower. Use “manual” control on the camera and set your f-stop to at least 5.6 and shutter speed (depending on lighting) to 1/30 sec or less (depending on wind. The windier, the faster shutter.). Use an ISO setting as low as possible; try 100.
Location – Just about every patch of ground in our region has some kind of flower to photograph. Many state or provinicial parks have a naturalist on staff who can point you to the patches and give you more information on wildflowers in the area.
Framing – How you frame the shot is critical. Look for interesting compositions: a group of blossoms together or colors that compliment the scene.
Focus – Remember that when focusing up close, you will have a very narrow focus area (depth-of-field) that is parallel to the back of the camera. This is why every camera adjustment is a trade off with another adjustment. Keep repositioning yourself and your camera, changing the angle you’re holding it relative to the flower to get more of what you want into focus.
Composition – With much of flower photography, you must get very close to make it interesting. Once you move closer, you will notice the curves, colors and parts of the flower that you never could see otherwise.
Although wildflowers are among the most beautiful subjects found in nature, they don’t last long, and often the business of life takes you away from enjoying their simple beauty. Flowers are a reminder of how quickly time passes. Taking time to smell them, as well as photograph them, brings you to life’s simple pleasures right outside your back door.
See Dennis' other work at his website: www.northernimages.com