One of the most popular subjects for photographers is flowers. There are many beautiful flowers in this world. Beginner smartphone photographers will have a great time practicing with these colorful objects. You can even stay at home and use the flowers in your garden or on your balcony.
So how do you photograph flowers? There are a couple of tips you should keep in mind. We will discuss them step by step in this exciting article about floral photography.
- Use different angles
- Simplify the background
- Fill the frame
- Distance to the subject
- Go for macro photography
- Use a tripod and remote shutter
- Choose the point of focus wisely
- Watch the shutter speed
- Play with natural lighting
- Embrace the elements
- Edit your floral images
- Embrace Manual Mode
- Think black and white
- Use odd numbers
- Don’t use flash
- Get a reflector
- Shoot RAW images
Are you excited to go out yet? Just hang on for a couple of minutes and read our step-by-step guide. It will significantly improve your flower photography skills.
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1. Use different angles
Be creative. It is effortless to take a shot from eye level. But images can get way more interesting if you take the time to try something else. Most of the time, you are bigger than the flowers you want to photograph. You will probably look down on them, but that is not always the best position to take unforgettable images.
Try to find different compositions. For example, get on your knees or lie on your stomach. How does the image look when photographed from the same height or slightly lower? It can make a significant impact on the results.
One of the easiest flower photography tips we can give you is; get low and aim high. You can even go for a frog’s perspective, by looking up to the flower. It will be easier with tall flowers like sunflowers. Bring a mat so you won’t get dirty while lying on the ground.
2. Simplify the background
Flowers are beautiful and colorful, and your images do not need much more than that. It is eminent that the environment does not attract too much attention. Remove disturbing elements and choose an exciting angle. Maybe you can capture the sky as a calm background, or create a shallow depth of field for a blurry background. A simple background without distracting shapes and colors will make your flowers pop.
Here are a couple of ideas to create a calm background:
- Go for a shallow depth of field. You can use grass, trees, or other greens as a solid-colored blurry background. Get close to the flower and choose a large aperture (if possible on your phone or use portrait mode).
- Shoot towards the sky, whether it is cloudy or a clear sky. An overcast sky makes for a light, maybe even white backdrop.
- Capture the glow of the sun. It is easy to shoot images with the light on the subject. But the opposite effect can help you capture the golden sunlight during the hours before sunset.
- Choose a single color background. Try to find an environment that you can simplify. Think green grass, grey concrete, the brown colored wall of your house, or the blue sky.
3. Fill the frame
Make the flowers as important as possible in your image. Let them fill the frame. You can fill the entire image with one or more flowers. Or you can make the flower a significant part of your final photograph. The environment of the flowers should continue outside the frame. You can even choose to focus on only one part of the flower. It can have a big impact on the result. It might look a bit abstract or artistic, but the flower will still be recognizable.
4. Distance to the subject
Although we appreciate up close and personal images with flowers, don’t forget that flower fields are exciting too. A broader perspective can tell a beautiful story and has charm as well. Find a rolling hill with a field of flowers with a blue sky as a backdrop; it can be pretty exciting.
5. Go for macro photography
When you get excited about tiny little details in a flower petal, go for macro photography. To get close-up pictures from the subject, you will need a macro lens. Nowadays, you can choose from a wide range of clip-on smartphone lenses. With some of these lenses, you can get close, like one or two centimeters. We have covered macro lenses in our article “How Can I Take Sharp Macro Pictures With My Smartphone?”
Remember, the depth of field gets significantly smaller while using a smartphone macro lens. You will need a tripod and remote shutter to create sharp images. Don’t forget to clean the macro lens and your smartphone camera before taking photographs. It is enjoyable to try, though. Give the manual mode of your phone a try; it can be useful for creating the correct settings. If your smartphone does not have a manual or pro mode, you can install a third-party app.
Macro photography with a smartphone can be tricky because of the shallow depth of field. But it can be gratifying. You might even catch a small creature wandering around the flower petals.
6. Use a tripod and remote shutter
We have mentioned it before; the use of a tripod and remote shutter is essential to create sharp images. There are many different tripods on the market. We have selected three stable, well-manufactured tripods at a reasonable price. If you want to take pictures low to the ground, choose a Gorillapod or a similar one with flexible legs. Some tripods come with a remote shutter, but you can also pick one up for just a few dollars. You can even use the headphones of your smartphone with volume control buttons as your remote shutter.
7. Choose the point of focus wisely
Especially with macro photography, it is difficult to choose the point of focus carefully. The depth of field is especially shallow with smartphone macro photography. The use of a tripod and remote shutter is essential. We have tried taking macro images with a macro lens without a tripod; it is downright difficult.
The focus point can make or break the images. Try focussing on different things like:
- one flower petal
- the heart of the flower
- a vein in a leaf
- or a ladybug on a petal
Zoom with your hands, place the tripod in the right position where the element of your choice appears sharp on the screen. Focus the shot and use the remote shutter to take the actual picture.
8. Watch the shutter speed
It is of the utmost importance to keep the smartphone camera steady while photographing with a macro lens. Because the subject is close to the camera phone, it appears larger. Every little movement will be visible and result in unsharp pictures. Keep an eye on the shutter speed (not too slow) and photograph with a tripod. If you do not have a tripod, you can find one here, or slightly increase the ISO. It will help you to keep the shutter speed at a reasonable setting.
9. Play with natural lighting
Photographing with your cellphone is like playing on a playground. It is fun to create new things. Try to play with natural light as well. You will get different images when a flower is in direct sunlight as opposed to the shade.
Backlight during the golden hours can create a warm and soft atmosphere. When the sun shines straight into the lens, you will get lens flare. Some people hate it, but we kind of like it in floral photography. It gives the images a warm glow. Backlight can also create a sense of depth in your flower image.
10. Embrace the elements
Do not think that sunny weather is the only time to create beautiful images. Raindrops look very appealing on all kinds of flowers. They give the petals a fresh and dewy look as well as a sense of mystery.
The best moment to capture water droplets on flowers is very early in the morning and just after a rain shower. You can even simulate rain with a small spray bottle of water. The water will evaporate quite quickly, so you will have to spray multiple times.
Don’t be afraid of a cloudy day; colors can get more intense when the sun isn’t shining brightly. It might even be more manageable in the beginning because you will not have to consider harsh shadows.
Go out in the wintertime as well. There won’t be any flowers when it is freezing, but the frost will create lovely patterns on branches and fallen leaves.
11. Edit your floral images
After you have taken tons of floral images, it is time to edit them. We have a couple of favorite smartphone apps that we use to create the best possible result.
- Adobe Lightroom: a mobile version of Lightroom Creative Cloud (CC) for Android and iOS. You can use some features for free, but if you want the full professional application, you will have to pay $9,99 a month.
- Afterlight: is a free mobile app for Android and iOS and comes with 15 adjustment tools, 50+ filters, and 60 textures. You can crop and transform your photos as you like with 15 different presets.
- Snapseed: is available for free for both Android and iOS. It offers professional photo editing, which is especially convenient when you are on the go. The interface is intuitive, easy, and straightforward.
12. Embrace Manual Mode
It might sound a bit daunting, manual mode. But it is not as difficult as it sounds. You can find the manual mode, or pro mode as some manufactures call it, between other camera settings like slow mode, time-lapse, or panorama in the native camera app of your smartphone. It might also be positioned on the bottom of the camera app. Just scroll up, and the professional mode is selected.
You can use different features in the pro mode of your camera:
- Manual focus
- White balance
(just a few smartphone cameras can adjust it)
If your camera does not have a manual mode, you can download and use a third-party app. We have used and can recommend these applications:
- Open Camera
- Camera FV-5 Lite
- Manual Camera Lite
Your Android smartphone camera will need to have camera2api enabled to change ISO and shutter speed settings.
13. Think black and white
Black and white flower photography with your phone is not something that just pops into your mind. Flowers are all about vibrant colors. It does not sound obvious when you are shooting floral images, but black and white can be a surprise. It is easy to do with a smartphone. Turn the camera settings to monochrome or add a black and white filter later. Keep in mind that filters are fun to use, but they are just a starting point. Make further adjustments with one of the apps mentioned earlier.
14. Use odd numbers
You have probably heard of the rule of thirds, but how about the rule of odds? Odd numbers in images work better than even numbers because it will draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the composition. It is a helpful way to make the audience look at the subject and not at the space or background.
When you want to create your flora scene, arrange three flowers to create a visually pleasing composition. They will either form a line or a triangle, both of which are pleasant for the eye. The rule of odds works with small numbers only. After all, it does not matter whether there are 43 or 44 flowers in the frame.
15. Don’t use flash
Most smartphones have a built-in flash. Do not be tempted to use this in every shot. I might color in the harsh shadows, but it is better to adjust the angle and use natural lighting. You can also consider an off-camera flash for side or backlighting. Keep the floral scene as natural as possible; it will give you the best results.
16. Get even more professional with a reflector
A reflector may improve your flower images on a bright and sunny day. They are typically used to shade the subject from harsh, direct sunlight, and bounce light into the images’ shadow areas. It will enhance detail and reduce contrast. Give reflectors a try and see what happens to the quality of your photos.
17. Shoot RAW images
Usually, the standard file format in your smartphone camera app is JPEG. We recommend shooting RAW, as you would do with a DSLR camera. Many new cellphones support RAW images. You can find this setting in the default camera app on your phone. If you can’t find it, you can use a third-party app like Open Camera, VSCO, or Camera FV-5 Lite.
A RAW image contains much more information about the scene you photographed. The files are uncompressed and unprocessed. They include image data without loss of quality. Unlike JPEG files, RAW images need processing. You have to choose the right color profile, tone curve, contrast, and white balance. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is worth the effort.
18. Use Portrait Mode
Portrait mode is available on most new smartphones. It will give you a more professional result without to much trouble. It is typically used to take portraits of people or pets. But it can help with the close-ups of your favorite flower.
The software of the portrait mode will generate a shallow depth of field. It will blur out any distractions in the background and create a soft-toned canvas. You can compare it to a low f-stop number on a DSLR camera. On most mobile phones, the aperture is fixed. Portrait mode will give you the option to create an artificial bokeh-like background blur.
Final thoughts on taking flower images with your phone
The ultimate goal of floral smartphone photography is to capture the beauty and intricate details of flowers. The creative options are limitless. Put our eighteen tips to the test and create colorful photographs.
Try to think outside the box. Get on your knees, play with sunlight, and try black and white photography. You can practice at home, in your garden, or go to a botanical garden in your city. Take time to shoot floral images when you are traveling abroad. You will find jaw-dropping tropical flowers in different parts of the world.
You will have a great experience in improving your floral pictures. Share them on Instagram or Facebook and see what your friends and family think about your take on botanical beauty.