Tag Archives: amaryllis

How to shoot flowers

A cool way to shoot flowers

red amaryllis speedlight outdoor flower close up photography tungsten white balance cto gel

End of year is flower time. Flowers for New Year, flowers for X-mass, flowers in pots and flowers in boxes. If you like to photograph them it’s a great time. I do.  Great. But how to shoot a picture of a  flower so that it catches the eye? Let’s try a couple of things and find out.

First we need a flower. The nicer the flower the nicer the picture. That’s obvious. I got lucky when guests showed up with a big bunch of deep red Amaryllis flowers. They were big enough to shoot with my 70-300 telezoom lens. Now, what kind of light do we need? Inside the house was too dark to make a nice picture. The sky outside was grey overcast. Better make the photograph outside in this case. Because of the clouds the light was very soft light. That works well for flowers.

red amaryllis speedlight outdoor flower close up photography tungsten white balance cto gel

Now, how about the background? The book sais flowers look nice on black and white backgrounds. But I didn’t have any of those laying around. I had a grey wooden wall outside though. How about a neutral grey then? That will let the green and red pop. So we had a deep red flower, overcast sky and a grey wooden background. I also dialled -1 in the exposure compensation to make the red deeper. The focal length was 200mm and shutter time of 1/2 second. Result: nice photograph, but can we make it more exciting?

Sure, we can.  What if we could turn the grey to blue so that it looks like water? In fact that’s not difficult to do. Just change the white balance setting of the camera to tungsten and everything will turn blue. The texture of the water even look like waves. One slight problem: our red flower will turn blue as well. And that’s not what we want. There’s away to fix that though. We can take an off camera flash and turn it into tungsten light. Simply by taping a CTO gel on it. If our white balance is on tungsten, and we shoot with a tungsten light, we’re back on neutral. Except that our background and will remain nice and blue. By the way, you have to shoot manual at a low shutter speed, so that you catch the day light on our background. And the nicest part is that the flash makes it look that the picture was taken at sunrise, near a lake or so.

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