Whoever has a photo camera, be it film or digital has tried to photograph flowers and plants. Often considered as “boring” and not “worthy” of a real photographer, it is certainly a part of photography that is worth of our attention.
Many will just walk in the streets or in the country and not even throw a glimpse or give a thought at the flowers or plants that surround them. Do you see a mistake in that reasoning?
Even more you will hear “I only have a Point and Shoot! I cannot take that kind of picture!”. Hmmm, wrong again… Let’s continue this inside, shall we? …
I am no botanist, let’s make that clear right from the start. I have always been bad in biology and plant studies. But that does not mean that I cannot appreciate the beauty of flowers and plants. All these “excuses” lose their meaning if you want to do photography. If I don’t know the name (regular or Latin) of a plant, I still have the right to take the picture and enjoy the beauty of that flower.
Plants can be pictured everywhere. Some plants are on the “forbidden” list in most countries. I can still take a picture of those. It does not mean I have to cut/use/smoke/sell it, does it?
Do you recognize this plant?
This plant is liable to get you behind bars in most countries in the world. Except in Ukraine, where they can grow to considerable height, until the bad guys come along and cut them in the heart of the night. The rest of that story is not interesting here…
Questionable plant in Dubinka, Ukraine
But let’s talk about the photography itself. Most of the pictures you see here have been taken with a Nikon Coolpix 4600, point and shoot camera. I had no real control over the way the settings were defined. Setting the camera to the “Macro” mode, did not really give satisfying results. Therefore I kept it standard, and focused on what was important.
Spring coming in Kiev, Ukraine
Beauty is everywhere, just look and shoot away. Getting close enough is often a problem. Just try. One thing: get the fastest shutter speed you can find to get crystal crisp pictures unless the subject really doesn’t move.
These guys will stick to you, your dog, your socks and your hair, come fall. It’s their way of getting around. But before getting sticky like that, they offer a great view. Insect was bonus, I didn’t see it until I looked at the picture on my screen.
Simple flowers from close by can give stunning views.
Getting close enough is the real challenge. And keeping it still. A tripod will definitely come in handy. Try to find one that will get close enough to the ground without having to put your camera in the wet grass in the morning or in the mud. My Giottos VT809 certainly does not qualify for this kind of photography. For my current D90 I still use my little 20$ tripod, if you want to call it a tripod. With the feet fully extended and spread out to maximum, the camera is stable enough. And if ever it does not keep your camera, the “fall” will only be a few inches to the ground. No big deal.
One of my first trials with a DSLR
Of course with a DSLR you can hope for better pictures. But right from the start, hope is all you get. I had to take lots of pictures before getting a result that was pleasing enough to show to anyone. Contrary to the point and shoot, you will have to set all the settings yourself. The “auto” setting simply won’t do. And if your lens has a macro setting, you’re really lucky. And in for a lot of trial and error before coming up with good results.
Lighting in the golden hours
Lighting is everything here, if you can get sunshine and evening (golden hours) light, that’s the best. Not all flowers do cooperate at that time, though. If not, use your flash. On-camera flashes come in handy all the time. They have the habit of darkening the background, however light that was.
An external flash will obviously give better results, but I think I’ll have to wait some time. Now the time for investments is not ripe. It’s time for taxes :-(
Floral photography can be done everywhere, even inside with the nice bouquet you offered your wife or girlfriend. Take a minute to look at these flowers from closer up than normal and you may end up with some really nice pictures!