Words and images by cattyal.
Ever the optimist I declare that Spring is just around the corner and it won’t be long before a nice selection of flowers start raising their heads just asking to be photographed.
In anticipation of the floral bounty to come I thought I’d share my collection of bits, bobs and accessories used for taking flower images.
First the Background – I use either:
- Camera - A compact with macro capabilities such as the Nikon COOLPIX P7000 or if you're using a DSLR, use a macro lens such as the 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro NIKKOR.
- Tripod - I always use a tripod however, working indoors means you don’t have to have anything too robust or expensive – after all, you’re not going to be up against the challenge of windswept countryside or uneven ground.
- A sheet of white Colormatt
- Smooth white paper
- Black faux suede or velvet
- Anything else that takes my fancy!
This is usually hung from a cheap clothes rail which is usually my storage place for a large collection of clamps which can be used to hold smaller bits of background material/paper if required. I find a Wimberley Plamp very useful for this as it's easier to position a small background with the flexible neck. However, a spare light stand or similar is handy on which to tape an A4 sheet of paper and of course height adjustable.
The next thing to consider is how to hold up your flower. I have a large assortment of vases which are always useful but also use a Helping Hands multi clip clamp – the type used by hobbyists - this kind of thing from Silverline
but take the magnifier off.
Clothes pegs, masking tape, florist wire (for those stems that won’t quite go in the right direction) are useful additions to the collection as are glue dots which are handy for persuading foliage to sit in a more pleasing fashion – or to remove a leaf altogether and replace it somewhere else.
I use either a fold up picnic table which I can drape my background over to give a nice smooth finish or cheap high plant stands on which I can perch my subject whereever I fancy. I also keep an old champagne bottle box which means I can lift long stemmed flowers up a bit higher without having to cut the stems.
If you don't have lots of space don't worry! Before I had a whole room for my photography I squashed myself into any space that had a bit of decent light coming through. The kitchen window always proved a good spot or the patio doors on which I could tape a sheet of white nylon shower curtain to provide a nice bright, backlit background. Unbleached baking paper is useful for taping to windows as well for a backlit background – not quite white but that's not always the aim or requirement!
Now for light – options are:
- Natural – nice window light – can’t beat it.
- Lights with bendy necks – handy for positioning although your white balance might need adjusting depending on what bulb you have in the light.
- If you’re lucky enough (I am) – studio lights
- If you have the patience (I don’t) – flashgun – off camera
- Reflectors – foil covered cardboard, white card – anything that will bounce a bit of light back.
So what more can I say? Get yourself a flower or two, pop it in a vase or clamp and turn it around while looking through the viewfinder. Look from above, from underneath, the front, the back, the edge – there’s usually one angle that suddenly stands out and is 'the one' that you should shoot.
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