Tips for Nature Photography – Photographing Plants and Flowers Correctly

Tips for Nature Photography – Photographing Plants and Flowers Correctly

Walking through blooming landscapes or strolling through your own garden – the beauty of flowers fascinates and inspires. But trying to capture the colourful splendour of the flowers or the richness of detail of the stigma with their camera, many amateur photographers experience disappointment. Because, truth be told, it’s not that easy to take a really good picture of a flower – as a whole or in detail.


Camera and lens – the right technique for perfect flower photos

In general, you can use any camera to take a picture of a plant. Many models come with automatic settings that make it possible to take pictures of flowers reasonably well. Nevertheless, the perfect image will probably only be created when you manually set all variables. Therefore, it is best to use an SLR camera.

Macro lenses with a focal length of 50 or 60 mm are suitable for photographing flowers – especially for close-ups rich in detail. Alternatively, a portrait telephoto lens with a focal length of approximately 90 mm can also be used.

However, if the selected plant motif is a tree, a wide-angle lens would be more useful.

Aperture and Shutter Speed – Camera Settings for Plant Photography

The shorter the shutter speed, the lower the risk that the plant photo will be blurred or blurred. Unfortunately, blurring is a big problem when taking flower pictures, because even a little wind is enough to move the delicate flowers and grasses.

A shutter speed of 250ths of a second or even less reduces this risk. However, since a high depth of field is often required for a successful picture of plants, a small aperture must be selected – high f-numbers between 11 and 22 are the best choice. The small aperture means that the shutter speed must be longer though to ensure sufficient exposure.

Image with a high depth of field – areas in front of and behind the focal point are also in focus
Image with a high depth of field – areas in front of and behind the focal point are also in focus

If you want a lot of blur in the image section as a design element, you can work with a large aperture; the f-number is selected accordingly low. The larger aperture means that comparatively more light falls on the lens, so that shorter shutter speeds are sufficient for a good exposure of the photo.

Photo with little depth of field – large parts of the image are blurred.
Photo with little depth of field – large parts of the image are blurred.

The theory may sound complicated, but with a little trial and error you can put it into practice. It is important to always take several shots and to vary the aperture and shutter speed in order to get the best shot.

Choosing the subject

Of course it is a matter of taste and it depends on the situation if you want to take a picture of a complete plant with its surroundings, a close-up of a flower or just a small part of the plant.

Nevertheless, there are some basic rules to follow when selecting a subject. In plant photography, it is usually elements in the background, blurred or sharp, that ultimately disturb the composition of the image. These can be signs like in a botanical garden or parts of fences or houses. However, other plants or parts of plants can also have a negative influence on the composition of the image.


Try to let the entire image section have an effect on you in the viewfinder and vary the image section. Even unusual – and mostly uncomfortable – perspectives can make taking a picture of a flower more interesting. When photographing small flowers, for example, it may be necessary to take pictures close to the ground and encounter the plant at eye level. Cameras with swivelling displays facilitate these shots. If you take photos of flowers from above, you can often beautifully depict the floral symmetry, but you run the risk of having a very unsettled and dark background in the picture, as soil and undergrowth are not too decorative. If you’re set on taking images from above, it is recommended to use a shallow depth of field in the image in order to create a blurry background.

You should also be careful when selecting the flower to be photographed. In nature, small imperfections such as wilted edges or insect holes may not be disturbing, but in macro photography, these very imperfections appear oversized and interfere with the visual effect.

The most important aspects of flower photography are creative approaches and a little patience. Usually it is necessary to experiment with the camera settings, but also the image details, until the perfect flower image is created.

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