In preparation for this Spring's meet ups I have prepared a few broad points to get you thinking about how to approach your next flower session. I will be posting a few more articles on the subject in the next week or so.
- Be aware of your subject: While this seems obvious we often tend to rush in to capture a flower then move on. We seldom take the time to really see the qualities of the flower. Not all flowers have the same requirements. Some are stately and can hold their own by themselves. Others are better in groups. Some are quiet and contemplative while others tend to be fun and playful. Some look best down low and on their level while other require you to hover over them to appreciate them from above. Some are show offs and prefer to be isolated while yet others prefer to be surrounded by greenery.
- Be aware of their background: Whether you are shooting flowers in their natural environment or in a garden center, you have to be aware of what is behind the subject. Flowers really stand out when there is some type of separation from background. This is where shallow depth of field really excels but you have to learn to see past your subject. Think in terms of shades and values; use color values against each other so that the subject and background complement one another. Shoot a light flower against a dark background, and vice-verse and use colors for effect such as warm colors against cool colors, etc.
- Be aware of your light: Most often you will be shooting in natural light. Select a time of day that best shows off your flowers. Early morning or late evening light works best. Otherwise find some nice open shade with soft diffused light. If you can't find it naturally, make it. Bring a shoot through umbrella or light diffuser to get rid of harsh shadows. Not getting the light you want? Then you may want to consider making your own. Use small strobe flashes to control your light better.
- Be aware of your environment: This does not mean just your location. Being aware of the environment also includes weather, pedestrian traffic, safety issues, privacy laws, and so on. If you are on a public pathway have courtesy to pedestrians. Others have the same right to appreciate nature that you do. If the weather is less than adequate be prepared with something to protect yourself from it. Sunblock, wind blockers, umbrellas, and even tents are all tools that can be employed. Dress comfortably, bring water to keep hydrated and bring items that will make your job easier; a blanket, towel or kneeling pad are useful knee savers A small chair or stool works too. Don't forget safety. If the flowers are on private property get permission first. If you're on the side of the road make sure you are out of the way of danger. In simple terms; use common sense.
- Be aware of your equipment: If you are a minimalist then all you may have is just your camera and a small bag. However, more than likely you will also have a tripod and a few helpful tools. Keep track of all your stuff. In a busy pedestrian area it is easy for someone to walk off with your equipment if you are not careful. Aside from loss of equipment there is also the safety issue of someone tripping over the leg of a tripod or a carelessly placed gadget bag. If you go all out then there is the added aspect of having to safely transport all your gear. Consider bringing an assistant for those occasion where you have more than you can carry. If nothing else, it's a second set of eyes.