Six ways to shoot flowers
Follow our guide to setting up your camera for the perfect floral finish
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.