A Guide to Photograph Early Spring Flower

A Guide to Photograph Early Spring Flower

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A Guide to Photograph Early Spring Flower Show

Flowers bloom beautifully in spring, and a good photo opportunity will come soon as the long-awaited annual Hong Kong Flower Show will open this month. In this article, we’ll share all the practical shooting tips and techniques you need to know to take stunning flower photos during the show.

Macro Shots of Flower Details

Macro lenses can be used to capture the exquisite beauty of flowers which is otherwise hardly observable by the human eyes. Among all focal lengths, the 100mm Macro lens is the most sought-after. Apart from high image quality, this type of lens offers an ideal working distance. With 1:1 life-size magnification, the lens can reveal the intricate details of flowers and is thus perfect for taking feature shots of small flowers, pistils or even dew drops on the petals at a close range.
Taken with a macro lens, the crystal clear dew drops on the petals were like a jewel.

Title : 《凝珠》 Club Canon Member : David Leung
EOS 5D Mark III • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • f/4.0 • 1/100s • ISO 320

Shoot with Single-Point AF

Singe-point AF or Spot AF is recommended to ensure sharp and accurate focus on the pistils. The Live View Mode can also facilitate easy shooting. Coupled with cameras equipped with vari-angle LCD monitor like the EOS 70D and 700D, you can frame a shot and adjust focus with ease.

The higher the magnification of the macro lens, the shallower the depth of field. When using a high-magnification lens, we can use a smaller aperture to ensure adequate depth of field for a clear capture of the entire pistils.
With the 1:1 magnification of EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM , this photo revealed the wonderful patterns and structure of the pistils which were invisible to the naked eyes.

Title : 《孤.獨.美》 Club Canon Member : Wong Kam Ming
EOS 5D Mark III • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • f/2.8 • 1/200s • ISO 320

Be Careful with the Shutter Speed

Lenses featuring Hybrid IS can compensate for both angular and shift camera shake for improved handheld macro shooting stability. Besides, it is better to shoot with the safe shutter speed, i.e. 1/100s or faster, in order to eliminate the effect of flowers moving in the breeze. If ambient light is insufficient, we should use a higher ISO setting or set the ISO to Auto so that a faster shutter can be used. We can focus on the petals which are closer to us and make them as the foreground to create more depth to the photo. It is also a nice idea to include insects like bees or butterflies in the composition if possible for more lively photos.
Taken with a macro lens, this photo used a fast shutter speed to freeze the bee in flight and capture sharply the downy hairs of the flowers.

Title : 《驚現》 Club Canon Member : Yip Wai Ho
EOS 7D • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • f/3.5 • 1/500s • ISO 100
EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
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Close-up Wide Shots for Wider Perspective

Although macro lenses are the most commonly used lens type in flower photography, close-up shots using wide-angle lenses can create another image expression. The biggest advantage of shooting with an ultra wide-angle lens at close range is that it can establish a stronger relationship of the flower and its surrounding environment through the exaggerated perspective. This can not only make the subject stand out, but also create a sense of depth and space to the photo. For this type of shot, we should use an ultra wide-angle lens with performs well in close-range shooting. Try to get the lens as close to the subject as possible to create a stronger sense of layer between the flower and background.
The EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM features 3 aspherical lenses to deliver high image quality from the center to periphery.

EOS 5D Mark III • EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM • f/5.6 • 1/640s • ISO 100
EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
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Use of Large Aperture to Separate the Subject

The shallow depth of field of a large-aperture prime lens can make the most beautiful flower stand out from the rest. By blurring the foreground and background, photos with distinctive mode and eye-catching subject can be created. Besides, we should pay attention to the use of contrasting color that can help separating a subject from the background, such as photographing a red flower in the midst of thick foliage. A horizontal shooting angle can also help strengthen the sense of distance among the subject, background and foreground, capable of outstanding the beauty of a flower among a sea of flower.
The EF 135mm f/2L USM features an ultra large circular aperture for easy creation of soft and beautiful out-of-focus effect to accentuate the beauty of flower.

EOS 5D Mark III • EF 135mm f/2L USM • f/2 • 1/1200s • ISO 100
EF 135mm f/2L USM
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Telephoto lenses to Capture the Beautiful Form and Shape


In the flower show, those flowers easily accessible by the visitors may wither easily. To find the perfect one to photograph in the midst of the flowers and make a nice feature shot of it, a telephoto lens can help. The shallow depth of field made possible by the long focal length can blur a background and help separate the subject from the busy background. This can also achieve a tighter composition with a greater sense of depth.
The compact and lightweight EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM offering 70-300mm focal range can help you create close-up telephoto shot that catpures the beautiful form of the flowers easily with a handheld camera.

EOS 6D • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM • f/5.6 • 1/320s • ISO 100
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
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Use of Lighting


Shoot with Front Lighting

With a proper lighting direction, we can make a flower look more beautiful in the photo. In general, it is easier to shoot with a front lighting, which can help reproduce rich and vivid colors as well as sharp and clear details.
We can capture rich and vivid colors using a front lighting. Coupled with shallow depth of field, stunning and rich color gradation can be achieved.

Title : 《粉色的柔和》 Club Canon Member : Tsang Jing Jing
EOS 60D • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • f/2.8 • 1/3200s • ISO 400

Backlight Shooting

With a backlighting, we can reveal the translucent beauty of the flower’s petals as well as add depth to the flower. Halos around the edges of the flowers and leaves can also add a mood and atmosphere to the photo, as if the flower is having a sunbath in the sunlight. When the sun is lower in the sky, such as in the morning or late afternoon, it is the perfect time for a backlit shot. If the sun is up high, we can shoot from a low angle for backlit photos.

Regarding the techniques and camera setting, as the light source is behind the subject, normally we need to increase the exposure compensation by at least 1 stop to avoid under-exposure. If necessary, we can use the ring-shaped Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II for fill light. Besides, backlight shooting may cause ghosting and flare easily. We can attach a lens hood to minimize the problem. Of course, sometimes it is our intention to let in the sunlight directly to create fog and flare.
Shooting from a low angle, this backlit shot captured a sense of translucency of the flower’s petals.

Title : 《戀上你》 Club Canon Member : Rainbow Lai
EOS 5D Mark III • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • f/4.5 • 1/60s • ISO 200

Practical Tips for Shooting in the Flower Show

Apart from good camera and lenses, you can also follow the tips below for more stunning flower photos:
  • Bring a tripod. It can help minimize hand shaking and also facilitate post-editing, e.g. when capturing HDR photos
  • Visit the flower show earlier, as most flowers wither near the end of the show. Go on a weekday if possible, as it will be easier to find a good location to shoot and you can take better shots without the crowds getting into the composition
  • It is better to go in the morning or afternoon, as you can create moody shots more easily with directional sunlight. You can also capture flower photos with dew drops in the morning or after rain
  • If the place is too crowded, you can shoot from a low angle for a clean composition using the sky as background
  • Care for the flowers and plants. Do not damage the flowers when taking photo
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