By Edward Taylor |
In Wilmington, we are at the beginning of what most consider our most beautiful season. Flowers are blooming and nature’s beauty is everywhere. We even hold a festival to celebrate the arrival of the Azaleas and to showcase the beautiful plants and flowers in our local gardens. Whether a local resident or a tourist, when such beauty surrounds us, one’s first impulse may be to pull out a phone or camera and snap some great photos of flowers. But, flower photography often does not do justice to what we saw, and more times than not, they get deleted or filed away unceremoniously. With just a little know-how and effort, we can make these photos more memorable, shareable, or even frame-able.
Here are some tips:
A dedicated camera has many significant advantages over a phone camera, but as they say, the best camera to use is the one you have with you. Often, that is our phone. Most phone cameras do not have very many controls. The phone chooses all the settings. But there are some things we can do to help it make good choices.
Phones take the best photos when light is plentiful. A good amount of light will allow the phone to choose a lower sensitivity setting, so there will be less noise in the final photo. It will allow the phone to use a higher shutter speed so there will be less motion blur in the photo, and it will allow for a smaller aperture which will increase the depth of focus and make the actual focus point less critical.
So, for a phone camera, a lot of light is important, but for flower photos, uneven lighting, or direct sunlight can cause extreme exposure problems. The best lighting is diffuse lighting, like the kind you would have on a bright cloudy day. Bright shade is also good. If you take a photo of a flower in direct sunlight, the highlights will more than likely get “blown out.” So, if the sun is out, choose a flower that’s in the shade, or create some shade by blocking the sun with your body. If it’s the end of the day and there just isn’t much light left, then turn on the phone’s flash and hope for the best!
After making sure our phone has great light to work with, we need to consider subject and composition. The only tool this requires is our eyesight. Stop and take a few seconds to think.
Usually, when photographing flowers, there are many to choose from. So don’t just choose any old flower. Look for the one that is the most photogenic or most representative.
Is there a bee or a bug on one flower that adds interest?
Decide which angle would make the image most interesting. Then decide what to include in your flower photography. Isolating the main subject of the photo draws the viewer’s eye to the parts we want them to see.
Should more than one flower be included?
Is the stem interesting?
Should this be a vertical photo or a horizontal one?
Are there distracting elements in the background?
Look carefully because the background is important.
Would it be better to get closer and include just the flower?
Can you move around to get a better angle that does not include any distractions?
Remember, you can make the background blur more by moving the phone closer to the subject.
Finally, don’t just settle for what came out of the phone’s camera. Crop the photo if needed. Adjust the color balance, brightness, contrast, etc. There are tons of phone apps that have these capabilities and that will enhance your flower photography. You can get even more creative by using filters like the ones offered by Instagram and other apps. Be artistic. Then, be sure to share!
With these simple steps, as well as a little thought and creativity, we can all create great images.
About the columnist:
Edward Taylor has been an avid photographer since age 11. He worked as a writer and photojournalist for several Philadelphia area newspapers and did public relations and commercial photography in NYC. He was widely published. Despite switching careers, his interest in all things photographic has never diminished. He now does portraiture and scenic photography in North Carolina, and is actively entrenched in both the technical and aesthetic aspects of digital photography.
Photo credits: courtesy of Edward Taylor
Edward Taylor has been an avid photographer since age 11. He worked as a writer and photojournalist for several Philadelphia area newspaper and did public relations and commercial photography in NYC. He was widely published. Despite switching careers, his interest in all things photographic has never diminished. He now does portraiture and scenic photography in North Carolina, is actively entrenched in both the technical and aesthetic aspects of digital photography, and runs Yellow Fin Films, a film/video production company in Wilmington, NC.