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Top Tips for Photographing Wildflowers

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For keen amateur botanists, professionally-organised small group flower tours offer a unique opportunity to explore an unfamiliar landscape and get up close to some of the most iconic and exotic floral species in the world. For those who want to take away more than memories, flower tours also offer the chance to build or improve on a photographic portfolio of images for personal or professional use.

Picture Perfection

While today's smartphones mean virtually anyone can call themselves a photographer, when it comes to floral photography there is no substitute for experience and technique if you're looking to take things to the next level. While experience only comes from, well, experience, technique can be taught; following a few simple guidelines can transform your images from amateur to outstanding.

Use a Tripod

The importance of using a tripod cannot be overstated if you're looking for that pin-sharp, professional image quality. While you might think it's too much of a hassle to lug around a tripod, the market is full of good quality, lightweight, compact carbon fibre travel models. Aside from enabling you to capture sharper images by reducing camera movement, using a tripod can also serve to improve your composition, as you need to put more thought into the positioning of the camera while shooting.

Shutter Speed

There's no doubt that at some stage (and probably fairly regularly) you'll encounter the photographer's mortal enemy: wind. Even when it might seem totally still, the delicate nature of wildflowers means that the slightest breath can cause imperceptible movement. To counteract this, the best rule of thumb is to use a fast shutter speed – that means at least 1/200th of a second. If your camera's telling you it's not possible under the conditions, increasing your ISO (up to 400) will help.

Use a Longer Lens

Even if you're not planning on getting super-macro, using a long lens enables you to focus on the subject and allow the background to blur. The trick is to use a lens with a minimum focal distance of less than two metres and crop your composition tightly in-camera so that only the flower is in the frame. Extension tubes help when you're photographing very small blooms.

Choose the Best Subject

If you're looking for a perfect result, you need to start with the perfect subject. Take the time to examine your subject for wilting or missing petals, insect damage or sub-standard colour.

Background

While there are plenty of post-production tools to help you cheat, you can save a lot of time in the editing suite if you take the time to make a few observations before you shoot. A generic, non-distracting background will ensure that the subject is the main event, creating a much more striking portrait.

Focus, Focus

Even if your camera is set to auto focus it's no guarantee. In fact, unless you pay attention, falling into the trap of trusting your camera's automatic features too much can cost you image quality. When photographing floral subjects, it's important that you focus on the correct 'plane'. There is one, and only one, plane of focus that provides absolute sharpness – so choose the most important part of your composition and ensure you're focused on that. While to the naked eye inside your viewfinder you may not see too much difference, you can be guaranteed you'll see it in the resulting image.

Flower Tours – The Perfect Platform to Develop Nature Photography Skills

Professionally-organised flower tours can take you to some of the most breathtaking locations in the world to expose you to a diverse array of botanical species – from the high-altitude alpine blooms of Switzerland, to the exotic tulip meadows of Kazakhstan. Adopting just a few simple photographic techniques will allow you to develop the skills to capture those lifelong memories at their most evocative.
About author: Desiree Michels

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in wildflowers. As a passionate lover of botany, Marissa chooses the expert-led flower tours organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable encounter with a wide range of plant species in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
 

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