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Tips for Photographing Popular Flowers

 

The Art of Flower Photography

 

Lesson Info

Tips for Photographing Popular Flowers

So let's talk about some specific tips for commonly photographed flowers. Roses, roses I usually shoot from either the top or the side. They're not one that's particularly beautiful from the bottom, and one of my favorite things about roses though is that when they start to age it's from the outside in. So it's the outer petals that get bad. So if it's your rose you can rip those outer petals off, not in a garden. Don't do that in a garden. But if it's your rose, and then you still have a very pristine subject. So that doesn't work with most flowers. But with roses it's great, and my emphasis is on the petal lines and edges. Generally with a rose an old fashioned rose will have a center detail as well, and I like roses from F22 to F3.5 because I can either create blurred painterly lines, or I can go for sharp texture and detail and it's just how I feel about that particular subject. There isn't a wrong way. It depends on your vision for the subject. So here I went super soft. Here I we...

nt super detailed, because I shot this on a foggy day, and it would be a shame to blur all those wonderful little dew drops. Calla lilies, calla lilies are all about the curve. You have to put an emphasis on the curved petal lines of a calla. You have to celebrate the curves. So I chose this angle because this one had usually the tip just goes straight down, and this one came back and there I'm always looking for something different. So I had to shoot this at an angle that would highlight that and I also wanted to highlight the texture of the petals. Yes, Sharon? Which lens were you using? Is that Lens Baby or is that your 180, and if it's the 180 are you standing back so you can get more blurred background? Yeah this was at Longwood Gardens where the calla lilies are in, across the water. Right. (laughing) And they probably would frown on me going into the pond, so yeah. So that's with my 180. Okay. Millimeter. And there was really, the exposure was tough for this because that's in the conservatory, and the ceiling is glass, and when the sun is high that light is so, so strong. So I had to really keep a close eye on my histogram when I was trying to shoot that because it was really easy to blow the very top, top out. I had to underexpose a little bit to take care of that. But yeah. And more callas. See the emphasis on curve. But even though I shoot callas a lot I still find them fascinating, and I'm still finding new ways to shoot them and they're different enough, like the one I showed you that I shot in Dublin. That was the most beautiful one I had ever seen. I'm not finished shooting calla lilies. I generally, rarely, have a whole lot of background, that I didn't have a choice with the one that I just showed you because I was far away from it, because I want, I want you to be drawn to the curves. Poppies, poppies are a flower that you can shoot in bright light. I wouldn't do it at noon, but early in the morning, or late in the day. Beautiful, warm, soft side lighting would be great, and I like to shoot them generally from eye level to get right down where the poppy is. I don't shoot them a whole lot from a lower angle than that, but it's a happy flower, a poppy, and so I think warm light works really well with that. And here's another one from Ireland, and that was actually looking at the background first, and, and this one is just really different, and I like flowers that are different from their relatives. (laughing) Like people that are different from their relatives a lot too, but it, I had never seen a poppy, a poppy with this shape. So I shot it as a vertical that you saw before and I also had a horizontal. When you shoot a poppy, you need a fast shutter though because they have really, really thin stems and so it doesn't take much of a breeze at all to move. Shooting early in the morning will help with that but keep that in mind. Even one of those clamps or something isn't gonna do a whole lot on a really thin flower. They move easily. Orchids, orchids are hard. They are a very complicated flower and they usually grow in groups, so you can't isolate them, and they have a lot of detail that comes out. Because of that don't shoot them straight on. If you shoot from the side it's going to be a lot easier to get a decent amount of depth of field. You might get a little blur in the horn but you'll still be able to capture enough of that center detail, and that is really the place to focus also on an orchid. And see they grow in groups. Here I used the tool that I talked about wrapping around my lens hood, because I didn't, you know, I didn't, I wanted to be able to stop down enough to get good, sharp detail in the center one, but I didn't really want that in all of them. So, I wrapped the tool around, and you can see the tool is a little thicker in the back, a little thinner in the middle, and I left that one out, and that also simplified the background because orchids often have very messy backgrounds and they have clips holding them up, and they, they're difficult. But a side view is much, much easier than shooting them straight on. Then you can't really see all that beauty if you shoot it straight on. If you're just a little bit from the side, and fill the frame if you can, so that you're eliminating the, the background distractions. Daisies, daisies are free spirits. I like to shoot them very much. I shoot them as single flowers often. And this is another one that I've added a texture to and I shot this because it was unusual because it was bent over because the daisies are usually nice and straight. And sometimes a whole, a whole field is beautiful. This is also from Ireland and I have added topaz impression to this for a more painterly look which simplified it because it was pretty busy with all those flowers, and what I saw was flowers dancing and the image didn't really convey that until I softened up a little bit. Tulips, tulips are great, great flowers to shoot because you can shoot them in full sun if you get down low, and let the sun illuminate the base of the flower. They come in so many different varieties and colors. People usually plant them in large groups, so there's a good background for you. You can go from very simple to very detailed with a tulip. You can move in close and focus on just one curve of a petal, or raindrops on them, or a lower petal, and as I said, you can shoot them in bright light. The one on the right I only wanted a petal edge in focus. Same with this one. Just a petal edge, and let the background go to total blur. I'm even shooting flowers with my iPhone now, and absolutely loving it. These are all except the bottom one. Shot the bottom one with the Hipstamatic app, but the rest are all Lens Baby for the iPhone. And here's my phone, and I have a phone that the top of the case comes off of. Lens Baby comes like this in a little case, and I have this little rig to attach it onto my camera and then this is a magnet and it just goes right on there and then there's a Lens Baby app that you download and just as with the other selective focus lenses I can move my sweet spot of focus wherever I want on the screen and I can get about seven inches away but it's fabulous for me to have something in my purse that I can shoot flowers with, though I had intended it, intended to or not, and I'll show you a couple more. These are also Lens Baby. So I can draw your eye to just one area, blur the background, and I get the distortion that I love in the petals. It's very, very simple and fun, and I have joined Instagram. Follow me there, Kathleen Clemons if you'd like where I'm posting a flower every day, and I encourage my students to use their phones if they have them to shoot anything, not just flowers, because you're doing something creative every day with a lens that you have with you every day in your phone, and I think it takes a lot of the more complicated parts of photography out. You don't have to worry as much about aperture and you can be more creative and you can really work on your compositions, being sure you exclude distractions and moving in close and you're shooting every day, and on Instagram I may not take a photo every, I may not post a photo that I've taken that day but I'm posting one that I've worked on that day. So I'm doing something creative every single day and I think that's good for any type of art, to be involved in it every day, and it doesn't, you know, most of these are taken in my yard. You know, I'll run out for 15 minutes, walk around the yard with my phone, and I also meant to tell you that I tend to plant what I like to photograph, and I have my plants and gardens on different sides of the house, so there's usually good light somewhere, and something blooming somewhere, which is really nice.

Class Description


Flowers are full of color, depth, and texture which makes them a perfect subject for hobbyist and professional photographers. In The Art of Flower Photography with Kathleen Clemons, you’ll learn how to take photographs of flowers that highlight their mystery and inherent beauty.

Kathleen has been called the “Georgia O' Keeffe of flower photography," and in this class she’ll teach you how she creates her unforgettable images. You’ll learn about:

  • Choosing gear and equipment for flower portraits 
  • The importance of good light and how to find it
  • Factors that affect depth of field 
  • Guidelines on where to place the subject in the frame

You’ll learn the difference between artistic and documentary images and how to work in both styles. Kathleen will also offer flower photography tips on shooting some of the most popular flowers including: roses, callas, poppies, cosmos, orchids, daisies, and wildflowers.

Flowers are abundant, beautiful, and universally loved – learn how to create stunning portraits of them in The Art of Flower Photography with Kathleen Clemons.