Whether you're talking a walk through the countryside or are spending time in your own garden, flowers are a subject we all have access to. In fact, you don't need a giant display to be able to capture great floral imagery as even a window box full of colourful flowers has the potential to give you plenty of colourful photographic subjects.
Even though getting out there and just using your camera will give you the opportunity to learn and grow your flower photography skills, there are a few pieces of advice you can take with you to increase your chances of creating a great example of floral photography. With this in mind, here are a few tips for you to think about next time you're out with your Pentax gear:
As flowers are often found in groups, it's best to either focus on a small part of the selection or even single one flower out completely. The 18-55mm lens that comes as one of the optional kit lenses available with the Pentax K-50 makes it easy to isolate subjects.
When working like this, it's important to have clean backgrounds which can mean working low and shooting up when trying to focus on just one flower. For more frame-filling shots, try fixing a Pentax macro lens to your camera.
Foucsing is always important but even more so when taking close-up shots of flowers. Try not to leave your background too sharp as this will distract the viewer of your image from the main subject - the flower. But you also don't want to limit the depth-of-field too much as this can cause parts of the flower to fall out of focus. Switch to aperture mode to give yourself more control over what's in focus.
For particularly cluttered backgrounds a piece of coloured card can be handy as you can slot this behind your subject, creating a new, clean background in the process. A simple change of angle or switching positions can solve messy background problems too. On clear days, the sky acts as a brilliant blue canvas for you that can be the perfect backdrop for colourful flora.
Switching to manual focus can help too, especially when working under the cover of trees where the lens may search when in auto due to the lack of light. If your camera has one, the depth-of-field preview button can be used to check how much is in focus and Live View is also a handy feature for checking everything is right in frame. When working with a single flower, try using spot focus mode and lock focus to give more precise control.
Another useful feature of Live View is that it gives you the opportunity to capture shots that aren't possible with just the viewfinder to look down. For example, you may want to get in among flower beds or you may need to photograph a flower that's at a particularly low and awkward angle.
If you don't want to use a support, switch on Shake Reduction that allows you to shoot at lower shutter speeds without camera shake. Although, a support is handy when you may need a spare hand to hold a reflector or to shield a flower from the sun. When you do use a support it's worth-while setting the camera's self-timer so you don't have to press the shutter button which can cause shake. A cable or remote release can be used instead if you own one.
When it comes to metering, multi-segment can work well as this mode takes readings from various areas within the frame to determine the correct exposure. However, for smaller subjects, spot metering will produce better results. You may need to use exposure compensation when working with a particular light or dark flower head to produce a shot with the right exposure.
Flash can be handy for adding much needed light to shadow areas but it can be a little harsh so use it carefully. Another way to add a bit of sparkle to flowers is with a reflector and one of these can be made from a piece of card, glue and kitchen foil if you don't fancy paying out money for one.