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Photographing flowers. Mini tutorial.

Floral Basket
Robbie McLean-Bayline Studios

March Madness has yielded to the final four. The snow has all but melted, and it looks like Spring may actually be upon us.

Spring is an amazing time for photography. There is so much energy, activity, color, and subject matter. In this mini tutorial, we are going to talk about photographing flowers. The great thing about flowers is that you can photograph them in so many different angles and styles. Aside from maybe some wind or some rain, they are not going to move like kids, pets, etc. Your chances for getting clean crisp shots are very good. Below are some simple tips that will help you improve the overall quality of your floral images.

One of the most important things you can do when photographing flowers, is to fill the frame with your subject. A lot of times we see really nice images, but there is just way too much going on in them. Your eye does not know what to look at, and it can be distracting.

Also sometimes a bunch of flowers look good, if the image is mot composed correctly, other times it can look like a blob of color. Don't be afraid to focus in on one flower. This will add "Bokeh" or blur to the surrounding flowers and and make the main one jump out at you.

The other really important thing is to use a shallow depth of field. If you guys have been following our mini tutorials, then you know what that means. It means using a low aperture number like 2.8. This will have your main subject in focus and the rest of the image blurred out. If you have a Macro lens, use it. If not, don't worry, you can still get great results.

If you are going to a botanical garden, try to get there early. For two main reasons. Number one the light is much softer and the colors really pop. Second, less people to ruin your shot. Try to avoid shooting between 11-1PM. The sun is at its highest and can cause very harsh lighting conditions. If you are a late riser, try shooting after 3PM. Once again the light will be softer. Bring a friend with you and maybe if you are nice they will hold a reflector for you to add highlights, extra fill light on your subject.

Another thing that is fun to do and adds depth and interest to your images is photographing the flower with an architectural element. This could be anything from a stone wall, to a flower basket, to the side of a building. Mix it up, get down on the ground, shoot from above, tilt your camera. Get creative.

Don't be afraid to play with black and white. Most DSLR's these days have a setting in the menu under picture styles. You can set the black and white mode there. Some of our favorite flower shots are not in color. It adds drama and a timeless fine art quality.

Finally the main thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself. You are out of the house, you are getting exercise and fresh air, and you will probably come home with more than a few keepers. So get out there and wear your sunscreen! :)

Robbie McLean is an internationally recognized professional photographer, instructor and author. He is also the creative director for Baltimore based, Bayline Studios, LLC.

You can view Robbie's work at: or visit the fan page at

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