After months of really nippy temps here, I see signs of spring “springing” and the beginning of great wildflower photography opportunities. We’ve had a real central-Texas winter — the first one in years, complete with Blue Northers — and that should bode well for the wildflowers. The Bluebonnets are growing (though blooming elsewhere already; I don’t think our soil is sandy enough here for early-bloomers) and so, too, are other forbs.
My wife, Mary, and I did a lot of seeding this fall so our fingers are crossed for a blooming show of Texas natives. We’ve had some rain, but I am not sure we’ve had enough to make 2014 a stellar year.
Considering that we’re entering wildflower season, I thought I’d post my “7 Tips for Great Wildflower Photography” in time for you to take advantage of the season. Of course, this list of tips isn’t all-inclusive, but it does provide a great start for those of you just getting going in wildflower photography.
(Flash forward a full year: If you’re interested in learning more, join me for my 2017 Texas Wildflowers Photography Workshop.
You can also download these tips as a PDF. Visit the LEARN section of my website and you’ll see the PDF there.
1) MORNING SHOTS ARE BEST.
You’ll find flowers not only their freshest in the A.M., but you’ll also often find them covered in photo-enhancing dew. Take advantage of that gorgeous moisture, which sparkles just right in morning’s first light.
2) MAKE FRIENDS WITH FOG & MIST.
Spring mornings can prove unpredictable and the weather might coerce you to stay snuggled under the covers. But when that sweet golden sunshine is absent, instead of staying in bed grab your macro lens and capture the drama created by the added condensation.
3) WIND CAN BE YOUR FRIEND, TOO.
True, in blowing wind photographing small objects like flowers can prove frustrating, especially that in-and-out focus phenomenon. But, wind can actually work in your favor if you slow your shutter speed. Try it and watch as the flowers before you take on new personas. Yes, surprisingly, blur done well can be beautiful!
4) CREATE YOUR OWN SHADE WHEN HARSH LIGHT ABOUNDS.
The nice part about photographing flowers is they’re small enough to shade easily. That provides the flexibility which allows you to work even in harsh light. While early morning and dusk are still the best times for photography, flowers lend themselves to mid-day photo shoots better than many of nature’s other models.
5) GET ON YOUR SUBJECT’S LEVEL.
Wear your bum-around clothes when photographing flowers so you can get down and dirty to capture the intricate beauty of these beauties. Let yourself be a kid again (so what about those grass stains!) and hunker down to photograph your petaled subjects at their most interesting angles and viewpoints.
6) DON’T PUT YOUR MAIN FLOWER DEAD-CENTER IN THE FRAME.
Remember the rule of thirds? An off-center subject pleases the eye much more than one that’s centered. And don’t forget to apply the rule of thirds to patterns, colors, and empty space as well.
7) TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS.
As you get lost in photographing the flora be sure to treat nature’s landscaping gently. To us wildflowers are objects of beauty, but to bees, butterflies, and other animals, flowers provide a means of survival. And the forbs themselves provide a means to perpetuate the species.