Orchids are some of my favorite flowers. In addition to their obvious beauty, I feel like they have such personality. They are also some of my favorite flowers to photograph. Recently I had the chance to see some beautiful displays of orchids at the local botanical gardens. I brought two cameras with me, my Nikon D90 DSLR with one lens – the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and my iPhone 6. I also finally opened up a trio of lenses that I bought on a whim for my camera phone – the Vivitar 3-in-one mobile lens set. I used only the macro attachment that day (there’s also a wide angle and fish eye attachment). I want to share with you some of my favorite photos that I shot that day and some tips on how to take beautiful flower photos. You don’t need to have a fancy camera to take good photos – the mobile lens set was only about $10.00!
The following shots were taken with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. I generally leave this lens on 99% of the time on my DSLR nowadays. I also have the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, which I love, but since I got the 30mm, I prefer it to the 50mm as it works in very low lighting conditions without having to use flash, and I don’t have to be as far back from my subject as with the 50mm. Most of my photography is of my kids and I find that if I’m sitting or standing next to them, the 50mm is just too close. It requires me to be too far away from them when taking photos. And for those of you that have little ones, I know if I don’t have them within arm’s reach, they’re gonna take off running on me. Forget about mama’s picture!
I love how this one came out – it looks almost painterly to me. I’ve seen some paintings of flowers that look so realistic they beckon you to get in real close just to see if you can detect a brush stroke – they are that good. I’ve always wished I could paint – maybe someday. I’ll stick to learning photography for now.
I always love capturing insects along with flowers. I happened upon this ladybug on these pink cymbidiums. Another great opportunity to practice taking photos is if you get a chance to visit a butterfly garden exhibit. It’s so fun to search for unusual critters – it’s like a treasure hunt!
After I got some shots with my DSLR, I pulled out my iPhone and clipped on the macro lens. This is what it looks like. You just clip it over your camera phone lens. Makes it easy to attach and to remove.
Here’s how close I can get with just my regular iPhone 6 Plus without any attachments.
Here’s how much closer I can get with the macro lens.
Here’s a tiny forsythia flower it’s about the size of a penny. (My two little guys happened to bring some flowers to me after playing outside. They had collected whole “bouquet” of dandelions and forsythia.)
Here’s the shot of the same flower using the macro clip-on lens.
Here are the shots I got using the macro lens at the orchid show.
When taking photos, try to look for something outside of the obvious. It may not occur to you to focus on unopened flower buds, but I really like how these came out.
The more I shot, the more abstract I wanted to get. The macro lens has such a shallow depth of field only a very small part of the flower is in focus. That’s where the abstraction comes in.
By contrast here’s just a normal shot with my iPhone without the macro. This is pretty in terms of seeing how one of the displays was composed, but I think the more interesting shots are the ones that isolate a single bloom.
Photo Book Girl’s Flower Photography Tips
- Get close! Isolating one flower or part of a flower makes for a more interesting shot;
- Use wider apertures (lower f-stop numbers) to help blur the background and minimize distractions;
- After you snap some straightforward shots, try for unusual angles – shoot from above, below, profiles, something other than straight on;
- Try focusing on something other than the obvious blooms such as leaves, buds, tree bark etc. You’ll never know what kind of shot you’ll get;
- Try incorporating other elements of nature such as insects, bugs, bees, butterflies, birds;
- Wind and bright sunlight aren’t great conditions to shoot flowers. Wind will make it hard to lock focus and bright sun will wash out your photo. After a spring shower however with dewy leaves and water droplets can make for some great shots (or just get out the garden hose!)
Hope you’re getting the chance to get out there and shoot. The most important thing is to get out and practice! I’ve been randomly taking photos of all the flowers that are popping up and the trees that are getting ready to bloom around here. I love this time of year! Happy Spring!
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