Skip to main content

photo & video

The Art of Flower Photography

Lesson 15 of 16

Photo Critiques

Kathleen Clemons

The Art of Flower Photography

Kathleen Clemons

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

15. Photo Critiques
Learn what to look for in a great macro photo as Kathleen critiques student work. Gain insight into how to improve your own work by viewing critiques of images by students like you.

Lesson Info

Photo Critiques

We had some images submitted online for me to critique, so I haven't seen them either, so let's have a look and see what we have. OK. I like the depth of field in this one. Look at that background. I think the background is actually prettier than the foreground in focus. It's beautiful. It's a little busy. I'm not really sure where the maker wanted to draw my eye. Because, I would think if it was going to be me, it would be to that purple flower, because it's in such contrast. But it's merging with an out-of-focus flower right below it, which is a bit of a distraction. I would have pulled that out of the way, and gotten in closer. I don't think you needed all of the bottom area in focus to tell the story here. Beautiful background blur, and I am really hoping that this person also went in and shot just that against that background. Ooh. (laughs) That would be just beautiful. Or maybe pulled the purple flower aside, you know, with your clothespins, and had all of that in the background ...

of the purple flower. There's a lot of potential here, but I don't think that this shot really captured this the best that it could be. Simpler would be stronger. OK. Nice lighting, look how well the center of that flower is lit. I think that looks really good. I find the leaves a little distracting at the top. I would have tucked this leaf in behind the flowers, and I don't really think I would have included all of this. I think this is the story, I might have come down a little bit, tucked that in behind, come down and maybe tilted the camera to put in even more emphasis on the diagonal presentation of those three flowers. Beautiful light though. Very nice and soft. OK. Well we talk about looking for distractions. Do you see what I see? Right in the center. I don't think that this flower is really large enough in visual weight for a centered composition, and it's got another stem going right through it of the spent blossom. So that needs to go, and the person needed to move in closer. I mean the spent blossoms, you've got petals in focus sort of sneaking in from the edges. None of this really is important to this image. That flower against that background simply would have been gorgeous, gorgeous. Moving closer, and simplify, and watch for merges. If you wanna draw the eye to something, you don't want another object, especially a line, merging with it. OK. Here too, we've got quite a merge. You know, your eye is always gonna be drawn to areas of contrast, and look at that, the white lines, those are really in strong contrast, and strong lines as well, and they are not lines that are drawing me to the subject. Here too, less would be more. Closer composition, and it wouldn't take much of an angle change to avoid the merge with that and eliminate that. I'd probably shoot this as a vertical, as well. And a much smaller piece of it. OK. Focus is very good on the center of the flower. Here too there's some things I don't think needed to be included. If you're talking border patrol, you probably wouldn't have included these strong white lines on the edges. And I had mentioned before that foreground blur that has shape can be distracting. And there's a good example of it right there. So that part didn't need to be included. A vertical composition at an angle that didn't include those would have been good. Focus is really good though on the flower, and they've gotten light into a deep flower, which is a good thing too. I think the white balance seems a little off. The greens are a bit blue. OK. Here too, you've got a pretty busy background and a tiny flower. So I would want more background blur, and much less background. And you also have a merge. You've got this stick here merging with your subject. So unless you can move that stick out of the way, I'd move on to a different subject, I wouldn't shoot that one. Nice soft light. It looks, hmm... Trying to see where the focus was on this one, because I can see a little bit in focus here on those edges. This part is soft. And a little bit here, so I'm thinking that this was a very, very shallow depth of field, and it wasn't enough to capture the depth that you needed here. These are strong areas of interest in the flower, and I probably would want to see detail there. And I think moving in closer would be a good idea. I would put those in the center of the frame. Less would be more. Here too, you've got a merge between these two elements, where you could with your clothespins (laughs), you could pull this one off a little. And none of this down here is adding, so then maybe you shoot from here. And I don't think that the blown out areas up there needed to be included. Simplifying could make just about everyone we've seen so far stronger. Here we go, simpler, simpler. Very nice. The buds are also in focus, so now you've got two subjects. And you're gonna make the eye go back and forth between them. I probably would not have included this in the composition. And... You've got a really large blank area. The rest of the background is kinda neat, and I think I probably would have wanted to line that up with a more even background. Instead of the blue and white, and then the green separate. So, there too, I'd be moving in closer. OK, this is when you need a reflector. See how as I mentioned before, flowers that hang over low need light bounced back up. The light is behind this, and it needed to be reflected back up. Other than that, I mean the blur is beautiful, look at this. It's beautiful, it just needs more light. Here we go. Nicely lit, good focus, I do love a diagonal tilt to a stem. I think it adds more interest than a straight line. And I don't have a problem with that being in the center. I think it's large enough for centered composition to work. It works fine. Hmm, this is beautiful. Beautiful, I love the warm light in the background, there's tiny, tiny dewdrops on the one dianthus. I probably would have moved this so that it didn't come right out of the flower in focus. But excellent aperture choice, it's well lit, and the depth of field is really good. And you could go in now with the clone tool and take that right out. It's sort of like when you do a portrait of a person, you wanna be sure there's not a pole coming out of their head. So, you avoid that merge. That's really pretty. Remember when I talked about the donut effect, if you don't get enough light into a dark center, you end up sort of with what I call the donut effect, where you've got light all the way around it and a dark center. So a reflector, again, because there's plenty of light, you can see it coming from there, you just need to bounce a little bit back up. Even tin foil would help with that. Because it's really pretty, but you are encircling the center with petals, so you're sort of containing the eye in the center. And if you're doing that, we need to be able to get a look at what's in there, and at this point, we can't, because it's in shadow. The petals have the light, not the center. OK, look at that, beautiful. It's well-lit, it's well-composed. I think they made an excellent aperture choice. There's enough detail in sharp focus. It looks like they've added a texture to the background, but it's a subtle one, it doesn't draw my attention, and I think it probably unified the background a little more than it was before. Very, very nice. Beautiful. OK, this one has I would say some Topaz Impression, or some other type of painting software added. And for me, it's become more about the software than the subject, because I can see all the little individual brushstrokes in it, and I think this would be better, you know I love the composition, that little, of course, curly leaf is just fabulous. But I think it was probably strong enough, it didn't need an all-over painterly look to it. I'd pull back on that just a little bit. Or do it on a separate layer, and mask some of it off the petals and the stem. And maybe leave the painterly look on the background, but not the whole image, because as it is it's really flattened it out. I think it's just a little too much, but composition and light are wonderful. OK, this is very pretty. Good use of selective focus. It has a texture added, and you can see, see the green lines? Yeah, those are a little strong, they end up outlining, and we've got a blue one there. I'd love to see this without the texture to see if that's a result of the texture, or if it's a lens issue. But, whoever shot this, if it is because of the texture and the effect that you've added, pull back on that, definitely. Because you've got a beautiful focus, the lighting is really nice, the focus in the center looks good, nice diagonal tilt, and the frame is well filled. It's just the processing I think is done a little too much. This one too has a painterly filter, and you need to go easy with those sliders. Just because you can put it at 100% doesn't mean that you should. You know, add it at 100%, pull the slider back, or as I said before, do it on a new layer, and at least pull the opacity of the effect off the flower. If you wanna leave it full on the background that would be your choice, but I wanna see real petal texture here, and I can't. Wow, that's beautiful, beautiful. See how well they got light into the center, they didn't blow out any of the brighter petal areas. Very pretty. If this was mine, I'd go in with the clone tool and probably clone some of this color over the very dark corner, because again, remember, your eye's gonna be drawn to a contrast. That is a strong area of contrast. And I'd probably take some of this material and just clone over there. Just to simplify it. But the flower capture itself is beautiful, it's excellent work. This person likes funky petals too. (laughs) Person after my own heart. I like this. I think my attention would stay on the curvy petal more if this wasn't so bright. So diffusing that light a little bit would help. You could tone it down in post processing as well. It has quite a sheen to it. Sometimes if you have a very shiny petal, if you use a polarizer it will help with that too. But I like the composition, I like the way my eye just comes right like that in the image. But that brighter petal is a strong area of contrast. Parrot tulips, gotta love them. Trying to see if it's just the monitor, because the reds look very, very strong. But it could just be this monitor. It's well-composed, I like this point of view. Focus looks good. It's a little further back than I'd put it. This is the sharpest area. I would probably be going here and choosing an aperture that also got that in focus if I wanted that in focus, I wouldn't only focus there. And I would with the clone tool grab some of this green and fill in the brown spots. Simple, simple fix. Don't crop, clone. Oh, this is very pretty. This looks like Lensbaby Velvet. Pretty, pretty wide open. This is sort of a ghosting around the petals, which is very soft and dreamy. I like the point of view, and the focus on the petal-edge curve is quite nice. Lighting works too. Oh, same flower, different shot, good for whoever you are for working your subjects. Here we see the whole flower with a lot more detail. I like where the focus is placed. It's a little close to the right edge, it's not hitting it, but a little more space might be good if you back out just a little bit. But good texture, detail, nice lighting. And they did a good job not blowing that part out, because I think that could have happened pretty easily. Bleeding hearts, beautiful subject. I love the curve. I might have pulled the leaves up. Because of the color, it is hard to see a focus, it's pretty soft. So it's probably a soft focus lens, or the Velvet. Yeah, I think they chose a good point of view. I would probably go in and take this line right out with the clone tool. And I would clone or take this out. This isn't necessary and it's just cutting up the frame, this line right here. But I'd probably blur these, or, yeah, just blur them, just so that you don't have any lines that are pulling the eye right out of the frame. Charles. What's your opinion about stems coming directly out of corners? It's kind of like 50/50, right? Some people say don't ever do it, other people say it works. I do try and avoid it, especially if it's going to come straight across, because I don't want a diagonal split in my frame any more than I would a horizontal or a vertical. But this one actually wouldn't be without this, if you just cloned some petal material, you'd have a good space over there so that it wouldn't come right out of the corner. Yeah, so I try and avoid it, if I can. Hmm. This has really pretty detail, but gosh I wish I could just pull it in a little more so I could get a look at more of it. Am I the only one? Yeah, I mean, the black is a true black, which is important. And it's beautifully lit. But, see, I've got space, it could be more, you know, over. It just makes me wanna reach right in and see more of it. It's an unusual composition, but gosh, and I don't need to see all of it, but just a little bit more than what I can see. OK, this one has a texture, but it's completely covering the image, and can you see how that flattens the flower right into the background? And you want your flowers to have depth. They're not flat, they have depth. So the texture isn't a bad match for the subject, but it needed to be masked off the areas in focus, definitely. And part of the stem, it's just too heavy. OK, this is where I was talking about focus, and how I don't like blurred shapes in the foreground. So here, I would be placing my focus here and choosing an aperture that also gives me what I want behind it in focus. Because those two really big areas of blur are a distraction for me. I like the point of view, and I would probably also want to reflect some light underneath as well, because the light is all up on the top. I love a funky petal. (laughs) This is very nice. The frame is well filled, there's no doubt in my mind where this person wanted me to look, wanted to draw my eye. Definitely right to that petal. They have the best light and the best focus on the same area. I think it works. No distractions, the frame is well filled. That's a fun shot, it's a happy shot. Calla lily, excellent emphasis on curves here. But so we need the second one? What do you think? I never want to pull anyone's eye down to the bottom of the frame, because once it's down there, it goes (whistles), it's gone. And there's such a strong emphasis on curves here that I just think that's extra. Simpler would be stronger, less would be more. It's got great light, look at the texture. It's a beautiful, beautiful shot, and it does make me tilt my head like this, so that makes me think that maybe a rotation. I'm not sure, but this would be really simple to remove, it's not merging with the subject, so that you could just clone some of the black over that, and I think simpler would be stronger, it would put a stronger emphasis on that curve. But whoever you are, you did a wonderful job with your lighting. And another calla. This is nice, look at that slight diagonal tilt rather than straight up and down. Lighting looks good, focus is good. I like the simplicity of it very much. It works. OK, now we talked about backgrounds that distract. My eye goes right to the background, not to the subject here. It's just too much, and an unnatural color, I guess, so I don't know what it was, something that sparkled, because (laughs) there are a lot of highlights. But the flower's very nice, it's well lit, there's wonderful detail, but it just needs a different background. Oh, I like the simplicity of this very much. Very simple, good job getting a true white background, also very important, there are no shadows behind the flower. The colors are great, it's simple, slight tilt, I think the frame is very well filled. This is a beautiful photo, beautiful. OK, I'm not seeing an area in focus in this one. If anything, I think it's back there, and that's not where you wanna draw my eye here. I think the strongest pert of this flower are those curves, and I'd wanna see those wonderful rippled curves in sharp focus. And I'd be stopping down to a very small aperture here. I wouldn't do that with selective focus, because you're obviously really, really close to your subject, and there's a lot of curves, and I wouldn't want just a portion of one curve, I'd wanna go as deep as I could. And it looks like really nice petal texture, could use a little more light in that area. So yeah, definitely stopping down more, and a different focal point. Another beautiful calla. Texture is great. Seems like the light is coming from up here, see the lighter parts, and I think we needed a little more light bounced underneath. The texture is just gorgeous, and it's not coming out of the corner, which is a nice thing. It's a pretty strong tilt, I generally don't tilt that much, just a slight tilt I think would be stronger, to pull this up a little bit. It fills the frame well like this, but I think the tilt is a little more severe than I would make it. OK, this is a similar shot and idea to the one that we just saw. But the background here is pretty distracting for me. My eye doesn't stay directly on the subject as it did in the simpler one. It's well-lit, I love the rim lighting on the bottle. And I can get a great look at the petals and it's well-focused, but if this is a texture added or just a background that they put this in front of, I would avoid lines. Because this flower is all about lines, and shapes, and you don't want to introduce more. You want the lines of the flower to shine. And they're just not gonna do that with that background. Beautiful, very simple. I like the tilt, we have great focus, detail, the white is a true white, it's simple. Beautiful, really captured the beauty of that lily very well. Well, I'm guessing this is a multiple exposure. And it's obviously blocking a good part of the flower, so that's a problem. But while there's a bug up there, there's a point that I wanted to make. A lot of times people will take pictures of flowers and there'll be a butterfly or a bee or a ladybug or something. And they don't understand that when you add the insect, it's no longer a flower photo, it's about the bug. It's sort of like if you take a picture of the Grand Canyon, and then you take a picture of your brother-in-law standing next to it. Now this is about your brother-in-law at the Grand Canyon, it's not about the Grand Canyon. Same thing, when you add an insect, it's about the insect. I don't know what else to say. It's not an effective multiple exposure for me. I do multiple exposures with flowers, where I take a shot and do a little tilt, take a shot, do a little tilt, and my camera will automatically layer those together for me. If yours doesn't, you can do that in Photoshop. But I guess I don't know what the person wanted to say with this, and it should be a quick read. When someone looks at your photo, they should know what you wanted to show them, what you wanted to say, and um... I don't know. Wow. That's beautiful. Lets look at the petals, see how I said not to crop the tips, they didn't. That's a strong crop, and that works. If this had been cropped off at the edge, that would be a problem, and there's space over there. But look at the lighting. Look at the lighting. And the petal texture is fabulous too. There's textures in the petal, there's texture here, good detail, the frame is well filled. It's excellent, excellent work. Very pretty. And I love the black and white. Simplifies it. OK, this one needed a little more depth of field. Well... I thought this was in focus, but it's really not, which makes me think that something moved, sort of looks like motion blur. And the stem definitely looks like there was some motion blur. So if you shoot flowers on a windy day, you have two options. You can set a very long shutter speed and embrace that blur, then you're gonna want a lot of blur, you don't want it to look like a mistake. You know, you need major blur. Or you can up your ISO for a faster shutter speed. And maybe use something to clamp that stem to hold it, depending on how windy it was. Because I think we need some sharp detail, particularly in the center, and I'd like to have these petals in focus. Looks like there's a little focus back there, but those and that center. Curls! (laughs) This is very different. Now this, for me, doesn't necessarily scream flower. So I think it has a really nice abstract quality to it. I don't really need to know what it is to enjoy it. I like the tight curve and the long one, though I probably wouldn't let this go down to the corner. But it's very simple, background works well, it's a nice abstract. OK, this is one that has a texture, and that texture is going all across it again. And I wouldn't do that. You can see where the texture pattern is going up onto the petals. And that stem is pretty green, pretty bright, I would probably darken that, it's sort of a neon. And that pulls my eye down there and away from the blossom. I love the composition. I think that's a very nice crop, with a diagonal stem. But I would definitely reduce the texture on it, and tone down the color of the stem. OK, this one has a texture added, and it also has super selective focus. There's a tiny little water drop in focus. Maybe just a tiny bit on the top of that. I think this would be stronger if the drop was larger in the frame. For a focal point it's kind of small. The color is great, but I'd want to either see more in focus, from this distance, or moving in closer. If that's going to be your focal point, we need to get a better look at it in the frame. Colors are beautiful though. Love this point of view, and what a pretty flower. OK, here they used selective focus for the base of the flower. And I think I'd like to see these three petals in focus as well. I think that shape blur is a bit of a problem. And it looks to me like what it actually is, sort of back focus, because this and this were deeper and those came out, and because they came out they weren't in the plane of focus anymore. So if you stop down a little, just a little bit deeper, you would get a more consistent area in focus instead of a little here, skipping the blurred petals, and a little there. Otherwise, it's quite pretty. I love the way, see how the stem fades off at the bottom. It's beautiful. Rather than a hard line which would pull your eye out. And the colors are great. A dancing flower. (laughs) Very nice, very nice. I love the shallow depth of field. For me there's enough focus in here. I might get at a just a tiny bit higher point of view, so that these petals, you'd be looking more down on them, so that it wouldn't get that blur. And they've added a texture, but they've taken it off of this area, and I think I would leave it on the areas that are not in focus. But it's very, very well-lit, and I do see a dance, which is great, a little stem tilt too. Ah, beautiful poppy. Beautiful poppy. This one also has a texture, and the texture is really strong, it's something you need to watch for, because you don't wanna look like your flower was placed on a textured piece of paper, you know what I mean? The background needs to show through more than it is here. The texture has been erased off of everything at 100%, so for me, it has that look of being stuck onto a textured surface. So I would reduce the opacity of the background texture, and I would also not mask at 100%. You know, you might wanna do the water drop at, I usually don't do 100, you know, 75 maybe, and then as you get further and further out where it's going to merge with the background texture, you're down to maybe 15%, so that you don't have that cutout look. And don't use the eraser tool, use a brush to remove your texture. You know, other than that, it's beautiful. It has very nice light. Yeah (sighing), isn't that beautiful? Beautiful. I love the point of view that they chose, nice center detail, there's no doubt at all where the person wanted to draw my eye, and it's well lit. It does have a texture, which it has some strong darker areas that I probably would take out. You know, if you buy a texture, if there's some areas you don't like, you can fix it. You can clone, you can take out strong lines, you can make it yours. You can warm it up, you can cool it off, you can darken it, you can make a black and white one, you know, you can start with one, or one that you take, and turn it into a lot of different textures. But, you know it almost looks like spots on the screen on those petals, and I would be taking those off. You don't have to take all the texture off those, but using the healing brush would probably work really well to take those little spots off. Because it's a nice composition, and wonderful light, it's just the post processing. Like the simplicity of this very much. And it has the same texture issues that I'm seeing, I think it probably is the same texture, see, on that. And it is erased off of, it's even erased down here, which is odd. Because obviously here's your subject, the curve. You don't wanna draw the eye down to that lower corner, because then it's gonna go right out. So I would want more texture on that, because it's bright, to tone it down so that it wouldn't draw my eye and not less. Wow, curves are fabulous in this, and look at the dew. It's a beautiful bud. And here too, that texture up here is really strong. I'd pull back on the opacity, I'd never put a texture on at 100%. Or it could be the blending mode that they used as well. So it's a little distracting for me. I mean there's just so much wonderful stuff going on here, that's where you wanna keep my eye, not to that pattern in the background. If I used a texture at all here, with all this detail, it would be very, very subtle. Here's a dancing flower, but this is another one where I talked that if you get up a little higher, and shoot down instead, because this is something that is really distracting. I'm trying to look right at this, but this is a blurred shape. It's not a veiling of color, it's a blurred shape, so you know, and the focus is here, nice and fine, and the lighting is good. But if you get up just a little bit higher, so that you're not straight across at that petal, you'll get some detail in that petal instead and it won't be just a blurred shape. Absolutely gorgeous. This is definitely a good example of when a centered composition works well. That's definitely strong enough in visual weight. The tones are good, the whites are good, and I love the way it just, look how it's so sharp and just fades off to more and more gradual blur. Beautiful, beautiful emphasis on the center. And black and white is always nice for simplifying. Gorgeous work. Oh, I think that might be that same flower again. It's got the same issue, I've got another big shape of blur that I would want to avoid, so I would be shooting from a slightly higher angle. And this one also has a texture and it has been removed off of these blurry areas. And I wouldn't be doing that, I'd leave at least a small opacity of texture on that and remove more on the areas in focus. So what you're doing by doing that is keeping the attention where you originally wanted it with your selective focus. Because if you're adding texture to other areas, and leaving some open, you've changed exactly where you're gonna draw my eye now. Love the curve, (chuckles) love the curve. I love the depth of field, and this one, (mumbles) can you feel motion? I feel motion in this one between that curve and this curve here and all that wonderful blur in the background. I might clone this one out. I don't think that was needed. And at the time you could gently have pulled it out of the frame. The selective focus is really, really nice. There's no doubt the all what the main subject was, where the person wanted my eye to go, and the colors are gorgeous. Beautiful. Shooting through! There you go, shooting through foreground foliage, and very well-done, too. The focus is nice and sharp on those really tiny, tiny blossoms, and this is a veil of color, it's not a blurry shape, very different. And it simplified the bottom of that image really, really well. Shooting through is, when it's well done it looks great, and that is very well done. OK, I think this one needed more depth of field. There's a small area in focus, right here, but that's not enough to tell the story. I need to see more in focus than just that small area. And compositionally, you've got a big area of nothing here, of blur. It's too much, it's too much. You would need to either stop down so there's texture there, so that we have something to look at, but with the selective focus just on a small area here, it doesn't really encourage me to look all around the frame. Yeah, this needed more depth of field. Good idea about where to focus, you just need a smaller aperture. The focus placement is good. OK, I love this low point of view, but the focus is back here, and it's just on this very small, it's a little bit over here and a little bit over there. For me that's not enough. I would have probably placed the focus here, 'cause I find this large blurred area, very grainy as well, to be distracting. And I also would probably have bounced some light. Because I'm not seeing any detail, just black there. I love the composition. Look at what a great emphasis it puts on the long petal lines of the tulips, and the tilt. But I need to see a different focus and a different exposure. OK, this one also has a texture. It's got a few lines I would take out, it has a line merging right with that flower. And when I'm looking at this, I'm seeing a lot of little different areas in focus, so I'm not really sure what the main focal point is, what the person wanted me to see. You should look at it and know immediately what they were trying to say and what they wanted to show you. And right in the center, we have an empty area and a dark spot, so that sort of makes two shots. So maybe less would be more here. Maybe moving in and just doing this section, or just this section, an not the whole thing. Hmm, very, very pretty. See the difference in bouncing some light underneath the tulip? There's a small amount in focus right here, I'd like to see a little more of that line in focus. But it's really well composed. I like the diagonal, here's a tulip that has started to fade, see the spots? That's very, very simple to remove with the healing brush in Photoshop. Also on the edges of the petals, they're just going to be a little harder to remove, which is why it's easier to choose a subject in really good condition. I think this is beautiful. The softness is lovely, there's enough of that curve in focus for me. I don't need to see the bottom area, and I think the green is very subtle. It looks like there's a texture added, but it's well done. It sort of has a really pretty glow to it, and they handled the exposure well too. It's very nice. This is fun, but the focus is just a little off. It's back focus, it's back here, and it needed to be here. It needed to be on the part closer to the camera, because then you'd have texture here, instead of a center area of blur. So I mean, otherwise look, it's well composed, you've got three, the lighting works, the background works, it just needs a different placement of the focus. OK. This has a nice abstract feel to it, but where does your eye go? (students muttering) Yeah, this becomes the subject because it's an area of contrast. It's so much darker than the rest of the image, and I really think that this person loved that curve, and those curves, and wanted to highlight it, but that needs to go. I don't know if it's part of the pod of the flower, or if it's a fuzzy leaf. If it's a leaf, it's an easy fix to pull it out. Because you can't really move up, because you'd lose that long curved line, so you'd have to find a way to move that right out of the scene before you took it. Otherwise, it's well lit, it has great lines. But the fuzzy green guy needs to go. OK. This is well lit, look how this glows in the center. But these are not looking in focus to me, and the stigma is not in focus, and they need to be. I think the focus might have been a little deeper here. Because you've got leading lines, and when you use leading lines with a photo, what you lead the viewer to needs to be in focus, and here it's not. The frame is well filled, well lit, just need to work on focus placement, and aperture as well I think. OK, here's someone who also loves curves, (laughing) yes. And the focus here is just on that curved edge, which is great. But, to tell the story about the curved edge, do we need all this? I don't think so, I think getting in closer, stopping down a little more. Looks like some wonderful petal texture that could be brought out, and I'd watch for the dark area in the background. And sometimes just moving down a little bit, to the side a little bit, can eliminate a really bright spot or a really dark spot in your background. OK. This is pretty, I like the composition. I think it needs more depth of field though, because as is, just this little part is in focus, and you're drawing my eye here, I wanna see more detail in the center of that. I don't need the petals to be in focus, but I need that to be in focus. Otherwise it's pretty, it's a different kind of a composition, it works well. OK, we've got some blown out areas in the background, you can just barely see some parts of the flower, and I'm not sure where you wanna draw my eye. I'm thinking here, but then there are little bits in focus in other places as well. So, what this one needed to start with was soft, even lighting. It's too bright in the background, and I think the focus needs to be more defined, and probably a smaller aperture as well for more definition. It's a beautiful subject, I love those curvy petal edges, but I can't really see them. And I have to use a little disclaimer here, I'm just not a fan of white vignettes. They to me make me think of funeral cards, and I can't help it, it's just what I see, so I don't use them. I think this would be so much better without the white vignette, just a plain white background, not white that comes in onto the subject. It's a little past prime, you've got some age lines. And I think you need either more of those so it shows us that that's what you were looking for, was an aged plant, or you need none of them. This is that in-between teenage year kind of. (laughs) And so I think you need more age or less age, so I'd clean it up if I didn't want the age to show, or I'd let the flower age a little more before I shot it, and lose the white vignette. And lose the white vignette again, it's just a personal preference. OK, now this composition, where does your eye go? (students muttering) Well, to me, smack in the middle where the lines cross, but there's no focus there. So remember, when you draw the eye to an area, that area needs the best light and the best focus, and it's not having either of those here. I'm not really seeing anything in sharp focus, and you know, flowers don't necessarily have to have something in sharp focus, it's one of the subjects that you can get away with a little bit of softness. But I feel like you're drawing me in here, then I wanna see focus in there, because just that criss-cross isn't enough to hold my attention. If you're gonna pull my attention somewhere, make it worth my while once I get there, so I'll linger a little bit. Instead of going to the vignette. OK, this is a beautiful subject. It's hard to say on this screen, the whites are a little bit bright, but there are some tiny dewdrops, focus is excellent on those. Beautiful curves. This leaf here is a little bright, you know sometimes you just need to turn a leaf a little bit so that it's not catching the light and can take care of that. You don't have to remove it, but that might have helped here. It's a soft focus type effect, might be the Lensbaby Velvet or the Soft Focus Optic. And I like the composition very much, so just take care of that leaf. OK, when you shoot a flower with a lot of dewdrops, you need deep depth of field. You just do, because you're adding an accessory to the flower with the dewdrops, and people wanna see them. If you're going to add an accessory to something, we need to be able to get a good look at it. And here we've got a little bit in focus there, a little bit in focus there, but not the flower itself. So I think we needed to go with deeper depth of field. Yeah, this one basically the same thing. I am not seeing an area in focus, and the contrast between really dark and white spots kinda has my eye bouncing all over the place. OK, this one makes me tilt my head to the left. (laughing) I think it needs to be a vertical. There's really nice focus right here on the drop. Another thing when you're shooting water drops, there are two things. You want the drop in sharp focus, and the image will be stronger if there's something of interest reflected in the drop, it's not just plain color behind, there's another flower reflected in it, or a leaf edge, or something. And in none of these drops is there anything really reflected. I don't think we needed all this to tell the story of this. I think they needed to move in closer, and definitely tilt this up. 'Cause focus on that drop is good, but it's just there's so much else around that it's hard to keep my eye on it. OK. So do you have questions for me? Yes. (she laughs) Just on that last point you made about getting a reflection in the drop, I love taking photos of flowers with water, but I don't see reflections. So how do you create that? I see some things online, and they're, you know, real crisp images. You need to get down low, which I know is an issue for you. But that's the best way to do it, and you'll have to get down low and look at that drop from all different sides, and that's how you see the reflection. And from being up high, that's probably why you're not seeing them, because the elements that they're reflecting are low, so a lower vantage point would make that easier. But, you and I had also talked about taking a plant and placing it up high where you can shoot it, and then you could spray it with water drops, and it would be up high, and then you would be able to see the reflections, because you wouldn't have a problem with getting down low where it's growing. So you can still try that, and I'm gonna wanna see the pictures. (student laughing)

Class Description


  • Choose the right macro lenses
  • Build the ideal photography gear kit
  • Find (or create) the best light for macro shots
  • Know where to place small objects in the frame
  • Set the correct aperture and exposure
  • Master close focusing with depth of field
  • Confidently capture macro work of any type of flower


Flowers are the perfect subjects for both beginning and professional photographers alike. Not only can they be found almost anywhere, but they offer a wide range of colors, textures, and shapes to explore and experiment with. But as perfect as flowers are for photography, the dominance of similar pictures makes it hard to capture a unique image.

This course takes you on an in-depth journey into the glories of flower photography, with expert photographer Kathleen Clemons as your guide. You’ll learn everything you need to know to take captivating shots that will wow your audience and celebrate the beauty of nature. Learn how to take flower photographs that stand out.

In this class, you'll learn how to spot the best flower to photograph with your naked eye, whether you want to capture artistic or documentary images. The flower will become the star of the shot as you learn to eliminate distractions in the background. At the end of the class, work confidently with fields of flowers and single flowers, at each stage in their life cycle.

Whether you have a Nikon, Canon, Sony, or mirrorless camera body, Kathleen will show you all the essential tools of flower photography, from macro lenses to plant clamps to extension tubes. She’ll cover technical details such as aperture settings and your depth of field, as well as stylistic issues such as composition, backgrounds, and close-up or macro shots. The course ends with a demonstration of a real shoot in a garden so you can see Kathleen in action as she takes different angles and close-up images of different flowers and flower petals.


  • All levels of photographers interested in macro photography.
  • Photographers who want to learn how to shoot close-up images of small subjects.
  • Photographers who want to better understand special equipment for shooting macro and how to deal with difficult lighting situations.


Kathleen Clemons is a nature photographer known for her painting-like images of flowers. The Maine-based photographer works with Corbis and Getty images. While she's known for her photography, Kathleen also has a degree in education, which she mixes with her passion for flower to teach other macro photographers.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



What a fantastic class! Kathleen Clemons' presentation was well-organized and offered exceptional how-to advice along with actual gear and beautiful slides which demonstrated her points. I felt as though she were talking to me personally and truly wanting me to be successful. Her explanations of technique, accompanied with video of her in the gardens using the camera was very helpful. In addition, I found her critiques most enlightening, and I learned a great deal about how to improve my own images from them. In short--this was an exceptional class, and Kathleen Clemons is an amazing teacher. I have watched the class twice and plan to purchase it for continued review and reflection. Anyone who wants to photograph flowers artistically needs this class. Thank you, CreativeLive, for this wonderful presentation by Kathleen Clemons.

Julianne Carlson

Thank you Kathleen for taking the time to share your wonderful knowledge and technique's with us through this 5 star course. Your breathtaking ethereal images are a true inspiration and I can't wait to get out there and practice with my new Lensbaby velvet. Not only was this course a wonderful tutorial for photographing flower subject but much of your instruction can be used when photographing all of nature. This is the best Creative Live class I have taken yet!

a Creativelive Student

Kathleen Clemons is a wonderful teacher who communicates a powerful passion for flower photography. I learned so much from her about how to see and capture the beauty of a flower using macro lenses. As I launched into this new area of photography, I felt equipped and free to experiment and learn and grow. As I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, it's almost as though Kathleen was right there with me - I saw how to focus in on one area of the flower, then another, and change aperture settings to impact the depth of field, and experiencing the intricate beauty of God's creation. The ultimate moments for me were the images captured as a result of everything I learned. I highly recommend Kathleen Clemons as a teacher and this amazing class, The Art Of Flower Photography. Review by Catherine Martin