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5 Plant Photography Tips


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Use Color, Composition and Shadows
The backlighting on these pasque flowers highlights the unique details on the stems and leaves.
The backlighting on these pasque flowers highlights the unique details on the stems and leaves.
©iStockphoto.com/AntiMartina

This tip might sound counterintuitive, but it's an important one: Don't shoot in direct sunlight. But why? Bright flowers look amazing in sunlight! What could go wrong? Well, just as LCD and plasma display technologies strive to match the color quality of the natural world, cameras face challenges of their own. Direct sunlight on a clear day can result in too much contrast for a camera to take in. This is the problem with hard lighting: The contrast of light and dark is too harsh, and detail can end up being washed out.

Soft lighting is actually better. A cloudy or overcast day makes for softer lighting conditions, which improves color saturation and offers a more manageable range between lights and darks. Plants will look better. If it's too sunny, a piece of equipment called a light diffuser can help cut down on the harsh lighting.

Carefully composing a shot to take advantage of natural lighting can create some breathtaking images. For example, taking a photograph of a backlit plant can reveal unexpected color in the leaves. Shadows also offer the opportunity to create unique silhouettes and dramatic contrast. Ultimately, though, there's one piece of camera equipment that every plant photographer should use: a macro lens.


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