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Pro Tips for Plant Photography

You may think that plant photography is easy because plants don’t move when you get up close. Producing average results may be easy, but taking aesthetically and technically pleasing shots requires great skill. Plant photography isn’t just photographing flowers – it includes mosses, trees, shrubs, leaves, and more. You must learn how to frame, angle, and edit shots to create beautiful images that stir emotions. The following pro tips will help you to elevate your plant photography.

Get up close

When taking close-up shots you should place your camera on a tripod to prevent blurry images.  You can take a shot of a plant in sharp focus against an out-of-focus background with a wide-open camera aperture and a shallow depth of field.  You can always crop an image in editing although cropping too heavily can affect its quality.

You may want to take a few screenshots of your subject and practice cropping them to highlight certain details. You may have the question, “how do I crop a screenshot on Mac?” You can use the built-in Photos app or the Preview app to crop a screenshot. Save time by taking a cropped screenshot on your Mac instead of a full screenshot. All you need to do is press Command + Shift + 4 and select the area of the screen you want to capture. You can use keyboard shortcuts to take screenshots and third-party apps to take scrolling screenshots or edit a screenshot you have already saved.

Composition is key

In botanical photography, as in any other form of photography, you need to use the rule of thirds to build a good composition. This is a composition guideline that helps you place your subject in the left or right third, leaving the other two-thirds more open. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a close-up of a single flower or a full frame of a whole field of flowers. You need to put the main subject in the right place in the photo and use objects in the foreground and background to frame the subject.

Find optimum light

Lighting is one of the most important keys in plant photography. You will get the best natural light in the early mornings or late afternoon.  Overcast conditions can work well for plant photography as they can bring out some of the finer details.

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A reflector can add light to darker, shadowy areas of a scene. Don’t overdo this, or the result may look false. Diffusers can help to reduce contrast as they act like a cloud over the sun.

Experiment with color

  • Play around with contrasting and harmonious colors in your photos to evoke emotions. Capture soft purples and pinks, vibrant reds, warm oranges, and lush greens.
  • Autumn is one of the best times to look for contrasting colors as leaves turn to yellow, orange, red, and brown.        
  • It can help to use a photographic gray card to capture colors. A gray card in the image helps you to find the correct ‘white balance’. This is a measure of the accuracy of colors in the photo. You can adjust the white balance in-camera or when you edit the image.

Choose your angle

It’s important to vary the angles from which you take your photographs. You can choose how significant the foreground or background will be. Get down to ground level and shoot up or take photos from above. Plant scenery can look completely different at varying angles of, even a few degrees.

Add personality with details.

Focus on details such as lines, patterns, textures, shapes, and shadows. The details you want to capture will determine how you frame your shot.

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Close-up plant photos are best if you want to show details such as the leaves of a fern. If you want to capture the silhouette of a cactus, you should rather shoot from a distance.  Flower petals are often slightly translucent.  If you use the right backlit lighting, you can accentuate the vein-like patterns when framing your shot.  

Highlight patterns and textures.

It isn’t only the colors or shapes of plants that make shots interesting. You can focus on the patterns and textures too. It may be the bark of a tree or the unique stripes on a plant that can make a photo dramatic and eye-catching. Leaf photography ideas include looking for contrasts in texture such as smooth leaves growing over a roughly textured surface. Using the textures and patterns in the leaves of plants can help you to create brilliant compositions with great visual impact.

Conclusion

The above pro tips for plant photography include getting up close, using the right composition, and experimenting with colors. Choosing your angles and lighting and looking at the fine details are other ways to improve your shots.