Ten Tips for Better Flower Photographs by Kerry T. Giviens, MD

  1. BE SELECTIVE. At a flower show , there is an enormous number of beautiful flowers. Don’t rush to photograph the first blossom you see. Find a plant with the best combination of form, color, lighting and background.
  2. ISOLATION. For impact, isolate your subject. Find a camera angle that minimizes distracting elements, such as other flowers or spectators. Take the time to try low angles, high angles, or moving to the right or left. A wide lens aperture ( a lower-numbered f-stop on and SLR camera) will enhance this effect by softening the background.
  3. COMPOSITION. Pay attention to the position of your subject in the viewfinder. Putting the subject in the dead-center of the picture is often the first instinct, but is not always the most aesthetic composition. Concentrate on what you see in the viewfinder, and recompose the picture until it looks the best to you. And don’t forget to try vertical framing, as well as horizontal.
  4. TRIPOD. Because the light in parts of the Conventions Center (or building) is varied, you may be forced to use slow shutter speeds. In this situation, hand-holding your camera might result in vibrations and unsharp pictures. Use a tripod to steady your camera if it has a tripod screw-socket. If you don’t ( or can’t) use a tripod, try to steady your camera in other ways- nestle it on a bean bag or your coat; brace the camera against a wall; or at the very least, take a firm stance while shooting, with your legs slightly apart and your elbows braced. When using and SLR camera on a tripod, cable a release can significantly reduce unwanted vibrations.
  5. PATIENCE. When photographing flowers outdoors, be aware of small breezes that might set the flowers in motion. Likewise, breezes can be caused indoors by the opening of a door or the brisk movement of people. For sharp picture, you must be prepared to wait for all movement to cease before releasing the shutter.
  6. ENVIRONMENT. Wonderful photographs can be created by showing the relationship of you subject to its environment. A simple way to achieve this is with a wide- angle lens on a SLR camera, or the wide mode on a dual-lens or zoom lens point-&-shoot camera. Position your subject as close as possible in the foreground.
  7. EXTREME CLOSE-UPS. Flowers take on an entirely different look when viewed in extreme close-up. Use your viewfinder indicators to move in as close as possible, while still maintaining sharp focus. If you are using a 35mm SLR camera, your macro (close-up) capabilities can be extended with accessories such as a macro lens, a macro teleconverter, or even screw-on supplementary close-up lenses or extension tubes for your present lenses.
  8. THE WHOLE PICTURE. Consider the whole plant when you photograph, and not just the colorful bloom. Examine the fascinating textures and geometries of leaves, seed pods and fallen petals.
  9. EXPERIMENT! Don’t be afraid to shoot a few extra pictures. Try different angles and different lighting. Also depict your subject from several different viewpoints.
  10. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. If your picture don’t convey what you saw in your mind’s eye, ask yourself: “What went wrong?” If you study your mistakes, you will be rewarded wit a greater number successful photographs on your next outing.

Ten Tips for Better Flower Photographs
by Kerry T. Giviens, MD


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