Friday, July 8, 2011

Recipe for Beauty ~ Floral Friday

"Wild Gypsy Rose"
(1/80 sec.@ F/6.3, ISO 100, 125mm fl, 55-200mm Nikkor VR, handheld, bright shade)

I love nature. I love flowers. I love photographing them. But when someone asked me to pinpoint how to get the most beautiful floral photos the other day, I discovered I was at a loss. I hadn't really thought about it. Is my approach to flowers and nature different than my approach to other subjects? I had to mull that one over.

I don't yet have a macro lens, and I don't do a ton of still life so my florals are basically limited to outdoor, available light, golden hour, all weather shooting. I use my telephoto for the most part, giving a nice bokeh and selective focus. When I can, I like to get out just after the rain. But that doesn't always happen, and raindrops on every flower you photograph starts to feel cliche.

So I went out and shot just flowers the other morning. And paid attention to what works for me or makes me think there's a photo to be had. Here's what may help answer the question in the first paragraph. But of course your answers may be different...
1) I photograph flowers almost like you would a person. In fact I know several other readers/photographers that have said the very same thing. If you want to improve at portraits, try getting close-ups of a single flower. Find it's best side, the most flattering light, and make sure you get the colors accurate.
2) I stop labeling them as flowers, and approach them as complex shapes that need to be carefully composed around. I have even gone so far as to just look at grasses in the wind abstractly, and shot them to emphasize the idea of motion and nothing nature related.
3) I look for the one dominant color, pattern, cluster, or blossom to isolate somehow within the frame. Even in a giant cascade of flowers, one needs to stand out and anchor your composition for you. It needs to be the starting point for the eye to travel around the rest of the image.
4) It still needs to evoke a response of some kind. Deep red flowers are sensed as more dramatic, more romantic. Golden light can make a field of wildflowers seem dream-like, causing the viewer to remember running through them as a child. Pinks, and whites seem pure and sweet so diffused light and very soft focus can emphasize this to the viewer and feel inspiring. If something makes me stop in my tracks, I try to expound on that in the lens so that others have the same reaction.

That's just my first thoughts on this and as I think about it, my approach to many different subjects run along the same line, deviating only slightly. And to be honest, I just love the beauty found in nature so I photograph it. Plain and simple.

Thanks for following along at the blog all week gang! Hope it inspires you to get out there with your cameras. Have a super weekend! See you Monday!

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