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Behind the Lens: How to take close-up photographs of flowers
Behind the Lens: How to take close-up photographs of flowers
Behind the Lens: How to take close-up photographs of flowers

Published on: 09/01/2023


Summer is for flowers, and taking pictures of flowers in a garden is a fantastic way to capture summer's beauty.

I admit I am better at growing weeds than flowers, so during my travels across the South Shore I take time to take pictures of others' flowers. And sometimes you catch other wonders of nature too − bugs, birds, butterflies and more.

I find the best light for taking flower pictures is either early in the morning or near sunset. The low sun angle makes shadows softer and the color a little warmer (more yellow than blue). Great shots can be taken with an SLR-style camera or a phone.

Finding the right angle, background is key to highlight the subject of your image

Since flowers are stationary it's easy to move around and find the right angle. I like to place my subject in an area with as little distracting background as possible. This puts all the visual interest on the flower. If it's a darker background, even better.

Summer fun photosFourth of July, surfing, festivals - all on the South Shore

Tips on lenses

I like to shoot with a short telephoto lens or a “macro” lens. The macro allows me to focus on small portions of the flower closely. The telephoto lens allows me to get close without being physically close to the flower. So, if I want a bee or a butterfly in the shot, a telephoto or zoom lens is best.

On the phone camera, I switch on the “portrait” mode, which allows the background to blur, putting more emphasis on the flower blossom. On a camera, this is achieved by selecting the widest aperture, or lens opening. The telephoto will blur the background even more. The wide aperture also helps boost the shutter speed to prevent blue due to camera movement if you are not using a tripod.

If the flower has a dark interior, like a tulip or a lily, I use a small piece of aluminum foil to redirect sunlight into the flower. The dull side works best. On a cellphone, the flash might help.

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Greg Derr is a 35-year veteran of The Patriot Ledger. He is a master photographer and author of two books, “Boston’s South Shore” and “Plymouth at Its Best.” He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to presidential inaugurations while always maintaining his focus on the South Shore. He is also a U.S. Olympian.

Author :Greg Derr

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