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The way I shoot my flowers
written by Nori

Things that I do before taking a picture

  1. Isolate the flower that I want to photograph.

    In order to do this I take a proper scan of the place for the most interesting flower. Most of the times the most interesting subject is not definitely the one that catches out attention.

  1. Choose the environment for the flower.
  2. The environment in which the flower is going to be placed depends on the background we chose for the subject. Most of the times that we are out to photograph we are at the liberty of choosing the background for the objects to be photographed. I choose a contrasting background so that the flower stands out in the shot. The rule of the thumb I follow is when ever possible for bright colored flowers choose a darker background and for dark colored flowers choose a lighter background.

  3. Take a picture

Compose the shot, wait for the right time and take a shot. Wind is the most annoying factor as far as photographing flowers, be patient wait for the wind to subside and take a snap.

Equipment Needed

I have tried photographing flowers with ordinary zoom lens and have not got a decent photograph of flowers. That is when I considered getting a macro filter like 500D for my 100-400L IS lens and am glad that I got it. All the shots in this article have been taken with the 500D attachment to the 100-400L IS lens.

The camera does not auto-focus to my satisfaction so I use the manual focus on it. Do I use a tripod? The answer is no, not until now. All the shots I have taken of the flowers are hand held, this gives me more freedom to move around while looking through the viewfinder for distracting elements in the background. So the only equipment that I have added to my arsenal is a 500D macro filter. It is pretty tricky to use the camera with the 500D attachment but once you figure that out, the results are really good. Here is an example of a shot that I had taken during my first day out with the 500D filter.

This photograph was taken in harsh sunlight. This gave me the ability to push my aperture up to f22 to get all the DOF I needed to capture the details of this flower.


Effect of Light on the photograph

The most important factor that I consider during photographing flowers is the amount of light that is incident on the flower and the nature of light. I usually avoid harsh sunlight, because it tends to cast harsh shadows, at the same time I avoid photographing in the shadows because it tends to give me a color cast. The right amount of light on a flower can bring out the highlights as well as make an interesting shot of an ordinary flower.

Here are a couple of shots that I had taken that illustrate the use of light to bring out the details

I chose this flower because it was partly in the sun and so I could use a background that is completely in shade giving it a dark background.


The choice of this flower was based on the fact that it was illuminated by a soft sunlight. The flower is not illuminated as much as the flower on the left but illuminated enough to give it a dark background.


Sunlight can also be used to give a dramatic effect to the flowers. Here is one of the best examples that I can give on the effect of light on a flower. Both these shots were taken in the afternoon on same day about minutes apart. The first of these shots is taken of flowers in full shade and the second one is partially in the sunlight.


The flower was in the shade of a tree making it difficult for me to meter (slow shutter speed). The background is in the shade as well so no matter how much I reduced my aperture I can still see the plant in the background. I had to choose this angle because of a bright spot to the right of the frame from where I was shooting.


This flower was in partial sunlight, the effect of light on flower is great. The background is in the shade of the tree and is completely underexposed giving a dark background as desired. The background chosen here is similar to the background for the shot on the left.


Use of Depth of Field

I have been playing around with the use of aperture to create interesting photographs. When I require more DOF in my photographs I push my aperture all the way to f22. Remember that I have a working distance of 25 to 28 inches when using the 500D attachment and a larger aperture of say f11 would mean a narrower DOF which may not have been enough to capture all the details of the common thistle shown bellow.

This was taken in the evening around 5.00pm on a nice and clear day. I could use a small aperture f22 to get all the details that I needed from front to back because of the bright sunshine. I included as much of the environment as possible to give a natural look to the flower.


Here I used a large aperture to isolate the flower in the front. The varying depth of field of the flowers creates an interesting photograph.


All I can say is experiment as much as possible. Try out different things. I have put in writing all the things that have worked for me. To get the exif info of each of the shots go to http://www.noriravi.com/Macro/index.htm

Thanks for taking the time to read, hope it is of some help.


Ravi Shankar Nori