How To Take Great Plant Photos
One of the great aspects of life on Earth, plants are a great subject for photography. Wild or cultivated in gardens, plants give us health, food, and beauty. Their endless shapes, their mysterious textures, and their beautiful flowers have fascinated people for centuries. Some of the first photographers dedicated their lives to botanical studies. Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871), Charles Jones (1866 – 1959), Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932), and Imogen Cunningham (1883 – 1976) are just a few of them. It isn’t just about curiosity and pride to find a new specie. It is also about a rewarding photographic subject, rich in patterns, color, and forms. Here is what you need to know about photographing plants.
Diversity is Essential
Photographing plants includes trees and forests, cereals and fields, flowers and gardens, leaves and grass. Many plants are specific to a certain climate or part of the world. It is exciting to discover rare species or some particularly hard to find. To extend your portfolio, plan journeys and outdoor trips. Visit botanical gardens and flower markets. You may even want to visit people who grow plants in your area. Remember that many plants are seasonal. For example, if you want to photograph the tulips from Keukenhof in Lisse (Holland) plan a journey in mid April.
Colors and patterns
There are a few photographers who use black and white photography to capture outstanding shapes and contrast. But the rest of them use color photography when it comes to plants. There is a certain aesthetic style of nature that can be overruled. Try to photograph shades of green or the rusty autumn leaves. It’s impossible to avoid falling in love with colors. Use a color enhancing filter to make them vivid and strong. Look for colorful flowers, in bouquets or alone, hiding in fields (like the red poppy) or floating on water. It’s very hard to find two flowers with the same color.
Patterns are also a good feature to follow when photographing plants. They give you the opportunity to work with geometry, to fill a frame with shapes. You may find patters in trees, leaves, and flowers. You may also find them in a single flower, by getting really close and photographing a single leaf or petal.
Close-up and Macro
Maybe the most used photography types when it comes to plants are close-up and macro. People want to see inside nature’s secrets and technology helps them. Modern macro cameras do an amazing job. You can photograph inside a flower and catch all its ribs, pollen, and velvety interior. Use a tripod to have as much image stabilization as possible. Close-ups are not as deep as macro photography, buy they also focus on a single flower. Use a camera with a short focal length and get really close. To blur the background, use a shallow depth of field. Don’t forget about composition. Just because you have a single subject doesn’t mean it has to be in the center and nothing else around it. Play with forms, sizes, and colors and deliver a balanced image. After all, you are not producing an encyclopedia, but a photograph.
Photographing plants is a good opportunity to improve your technique. They are usually quiet and patient subjects. They don’t move and have a lot of elements to work with. Being around them, outdoor or indoor, is also beneficial for your brain. It seems plants make us happier. Some even use them as therapy. So there are many reasons to love and photograph them. You have a pleasant activity, learn something, and achieve a beautiful portfolio. Images featuring plants are also versatile and easy to sell as stock photographs or for illustrating articles.