I’m ready to go out and get some shots as soon as the first spring blooms appear in our yard. When the snow and ice finally starts to melt, I begin searching for anything to lift my spirits and nothing works better than taking some spring flower macros. (yes – I’m affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and photographing those early spring flowers just crushes SAD’s butt).
Are you ready to get your hands and knees dirty? Spring is on its way, which means it’s time to start planning outdoor shots of early blooms.
Because spring flowers are usually small blooms, you’ll need to get up close to capture them well. If your camera (or smartphone) does not have a macro focus option, you’ll need to swap lenses or use a close-up filter. My recommendation for the best way to get close to the flowers is to use a macro lens or a set of extension tubes.
Along with small blossoms, most spring flowers are pretty short-stemmed and low to the ground. This means that if you want to get some good images of these flowers, you’ll need to get down in the dirt with them. You could handhold your camera, but there’s a better way. It’s going to work out better if you have a short or tabletop style tripod for your camera.
To help with getting close to these petite blossoms, I suggest purchasing some knee pads. If you have old knees as I do, or just want to keep your pants clean, these are a good idea.
Anytime I shoot flowers outside I can guarantee that a breeze will come up blow the flowers around. To stop this motion, you should shoot with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second or faster to prevent the blossom from being blurry in your photo.
Another way to stop the motion is with an external light source. I’ve used bright LED panels, but they don’t always bring enough light to fix the problem. The best way to stop the flowers is to use a flash or speed light. A speed light creates such a short burst of light that it easily stop any motion blur.
Another benefit of using controlled light is that you can creatively make any mood you’d like in the scene.
Finally, when using an external light source it’s best to pair it with a good diffuser to keep the light from being too harsh.
These little spring flowers will look their best if you keep the number of blossoms low and try for an odd number (1, 3, 5) of them. When composing, look at how the flowers and stems interact with each other, keep crossing lines to a minimum to make the image less confusing to the eye.
When framing up your image, make sure to use a short depth of field and pay attention to the background. The play of color, light, and shadow can be very distracting and pull the viewer’s eye away from your subject.
Additionally, most lenses will create a marvelous soft focus background known as bokeh when stopped down to their widest apertures (f/2.0 -f/4.0). The beauty of the flowers will be at their best with a light and dreamy background.
Spring is a great time to get outdoors and take photos of flowers. The best way to capture the small blooms is with a macro lens or extension tubes, and you’ll need to be down on the ground with them to get good shots. And remember, when composing your photo, try for an odd number of blossoms in the frame and use a short depth of field to create beautiful bokeh in the background.
Spring is a great time to get outdoors and take photos of flowers. Good luck and I hope these tips help with your spring outdoor flower macros, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
If you liked this quick tip, check out more in my Guides category.
For more examples see the following
See more details on early spring flower techniques as Professional photographer Andrew Landon takes a walk in the park