Six ways to shoot flow­ers

Fol­low our guide to set­ting up your cam­era for the per­fect flo­ral fin­ish

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Spring flow­ers are del­i­cate lit­tle things that can be sur­pris­ingly tricky to shoot, but these com­po­si­tion and ex­po­sure tips will in­stantly im­prove your pho­tos.

When you ar­rive at your lo­ca­tion, find some flow­ers that are grow­ing against a good back­ground – a com­ple­men­tary, sim­ple back­ground like green moss or a tree trunk will make a nice con­trast to bright petals, and will also stop any­thing dis­tract­ing the eye from the stars of the show.

01 Go low

Just like chil­dren, flow­ers look best when you pho­to­graph them on their level. Get par­al­lel to your sub­ject – you’ll prob­a­bly have to lie down to line up a good shot, so take a wa­ter­proof coat to avoid get­ting muddy. If you’re strug­gling to see in your viewfinder, switch to Live View to check your com­po­si­tion.

02 Zoom to the max

You don’t ac­tu­ally need a macro lens if you can get in close to your cho­sen flower. We’re us­ing a stan­dard kit lens to take our shots. How­ever, you will need to zoom in as close to your sub­ject as your lens al­lows (on our kit lens that’s 55mm) so that we can get a good com­po­si­tion with­out too much back­ground in shot.

03 Switch to sin­gle AF

The prob­lem with get­ting up close and per­sonal with your sub­ject is that your cam­era’s aut­o­fo­cus may strug­gle from such a short dis­tance. In the Shoot­ing menu find the sin­gle-point AF mode and then use the direc­tional but­tons to find the per­fect fo­cus point. Fo­cus on the flower’s sta­men or the petals clos­est to you.

04 Stay in A

A wide aper­ture, such as f/5.6, will give you a shal­low depth of field and knock your back­ground nicely out of fo­cus. Switch your mode dial to aper­ture-pri­or­ity (A) mode and ad­just the aper­ture. Your cam­era will take care of the shut­ter speed it­self, free­ing you from hav­ing to fid­dle much with set­tings in change­able con­di­tions.

05 Raise the ISO

Flow­ers are light and eas­ily knocked about by a gust of wind, which is al­ways a haz­ard early in the year. If your cho­sen spec­i­men won’t stay still, in­crease your ISO to 800 or even 1600 and pick an aper­ture that al­lows you to use a very fast shut­ter speed (1/1000 or faster) to make sure you freeze your flower per­fectly.

06 Dial it up

If you’re shoot­ing white flow­ers like these you may have ex­po­sure is­sues. Check your im­ages af­ter ev­ery few shots, and if your white blooms are look­ing rather grey, hold down the Ex­po­sure Com­pen­sa­tion but­ton on the top of your Nikon and dial up by 1EV for pure white petals. Check your his­togram to en­sure noth­ing is blown out.

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