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Basic Tips for Outdoor Flower Photography

I’m going to be writing a 5 part series on Flower Photography.

I hope you enjoy this series for flowers. If you want to check out other Tips from Cee.

In this Tip, I will attempt to give you some ideas for floral photography.  Flowers are my favorite thing to photograph because I adore getting up close and personal with them.

This first tip is really for any outdoor photography. Don’t take photo directly in the bright sun. You will get petals that are burned out.

For example, this sunflower below I took on a bright sunny day. The left of the photo (the direction the sun was shining from) is really bright. The sun actually burnt out the edges of the petals on most of the sunflower.. When I take a photo like this I have a couple of options. Hit delete, which is most like the case or possibly crop it and do some extreme editing to make it normal looking.

This photo has not been edited in any way.

Look at the photo above, once again and notice where your eye immediately goes to. Yes, it is that horrible bright left side. That is natural. Our eyes immediately go to the brightest spot on any photo. Make a note to yourself, unless that white is what your story is all about, avoid the bright sun at all costs. It washes out your photo and people won’t notice anything beyond that.

Here is another photo that is only slightly to bright. I probably could play with this in editing, but have chosen not to publish it.

This photo has not been edited in any way.

There are several ways to avoid the bright sun. And that is what this post is all about.

Try to take photos on cloudy days. You will most likely not have any burnt out areas. Although it will cut down shadows.

In these photos, the photo on the left demonstrates that I took the photo on a gray day with the full tree in view. The photo on the right, shows close up of a small portion of the blossoms, the white is not burned out at all.

Ways to avoid Burnt Out

Use your body to shade a single flower. You may have to twist your body a little to get a good angle for the flower you desire. This is actually my preferred method, since I am usually out in the flower fields and gardens by myself. Most commonly, I do this at the dahlia farm when I’m photographing them, since in late August the sun is usually quite bright. It is hard to show a photo where I used this technique.

A couple other tips are, when you are with someone, they can use their body a shade shield too. There are collapsible sun reflectors made for photography. They are helpful too, especially if someone else can help shade.

I personally don’t use the reflector shades since I don’t have a free hand to hold the shade myself. In the photo below, a photographer used had someone hold the reflector shade. The shades are fun to play with and come in a variety of sizes. You may find you prefer using them.

This brings up the last point I want to make. If you notice in the photo above, you don’t see long shadows, because they were taking the photo midday. You will have to take my word, the tulips aren’t nearly as vibrant either with the sun directly overhead. The time of day you take your photo can make a huge difference to.

Try to avoid taking flower photos between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm on sunny days. Depending on the time of year you may need to extend those hours. The sun is usually at its highest point in the sky. When taking photos close to sunrise and sunset, you will get much longer shadows.

The tulip field below, the sun was behind me and the angle of the sun was much lower in the sky. since it was about two hours from sunset. You will notice the tulips are much more vibrant from the yellow setting sun. You can also notice the shadows are longer. Notice the dad’s shadow on the ground and the tulip shadow on the boy’s blue shirt.

I took this photo of a lily at 9:30 in the morning. The sun rising in front of the lily and the sun was nearly overhead. I stood a little to one side and was able to capture the wonderful shadow.

This should give you some food for thought regarding flower photography. See you in my next post.

I will leave you with some of my favorite flowers.

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs


45 replies »

  1. Thanks for all the tips. I took some garden photos this morning, and it is fairly bright out. Some of them came out fairly well, but I might try again at a different time. I did get some of my best iris shots on an overcast day. I also love your dahlia close-up. πŸ™‚


  2. Thank you so much, Cee for taking time to explain and share your wonderful photography experience. I always enjoy your flower images. πŸ’–πŸ’


  3. This is such useful
    information. I would have never thought to not take flower picture between 10-2. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Your photos are beautiful!


  4. Perfectly good advise.

    But I like to break the rules now and then (not too often). I think your somewhat over-exposed pink roses would look good if you crop it down. The white edge with the pink and yellow middle could be a great high-key photo.


  5. Oh Cee, I trust you but I have just booked three garden tours on Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm. :p I couldn’t choose, you see. It’s an open door day. I’m just happy to be able to go. And I take photos only for fun and my blog anyway.


  6. Cee, this is such an interesting and useful post, thank you!
    Your images are so beautiful.
    Would the fold up light reflectors work well for indoor food photography, too – that’s a challenge I would love to conquer!


    • Ahh yes they will work indoors as well. You will want to keep the light fairly bright and on the cool (blue) side on the color balance scale. Also with food I find it prettier if you don’t over sharpen the food. No one needs to see food with that kind of clarity. Play with it, you will find what style you like the best. You and your eye is the artist. Find your style.


  7. thank you for the very helpful tips. And I love your flowers. I so want to capture the bees currently working my garden. but not succesful yet


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