Now that Spring has arrived, why not capture all those beautiful flowers in IR? Infrared can give such an amazing take on Spring Flowers. I’d like to share some techniques and suggestions for capturing beautiful images of flowers.
1. Start with the basics, shoot in RAW and do a custom white balance. Select an area of green foliage and try several different exposures. Following these two steps will make such a difference every time. The images below were both shot at ISO100, f3.5, 1/60 sec. The first image was shot without a white balance. The overall image has very little separation between the flower and the leaves; and mainly one color tone, Cyan. In the second image a quick set of 3 images was shot of just a group of leaves and a custom white balance set. Notice we now have a separation between the flower and the leaves. We also now have Red and white color tones.
If you would like to learn more about Custom White balances, we have several great videos on the Video Tutorials page.
2. Consider using a tripod or monopod. I never liked carrying a tripod because it was bulky, but there are so many compact, light weight tripods now it is not an issue. By using a tripod, you can control each image better.
3. Camera angle and perspective. Unless you are 4 years old, you are probably too tall to shoot flowers standing up. Often I have found the angle and perspective I like best is just slightly above the top of the flower. This allows me to capture the body of the flower and still get depth to the image.
With that said, and since this about being artistic, the only rule should be, there are no rules. Try shooting the flower at several different angles and levels to see what you like. Below is an example
This is the same flower, shot two different ways, producing two different results.
4. Use your f-stop. Depending on what look you are going for, the f-stop you choose for your image can make as much impact as your framing and composition. Your f-stop affects your depth of field (DOF); the higher the number, the wider the depth of field. The higher the f-stop, the longer an exposure needs to be. The two examples below were shot with the camera on a tripod and a 50mm 1.8 lens, the f-stop was adjusted and the appropriate exposure used.
At f2.0 the majority of the area has a soft, to blurry appearance with your eyes drawn to the center of the flower which is sharp. At f22 we have much greater depth and detail to entire image.
Here again, at f2.0 we are drawn just to one flower; at f16.0 we see back in and see all 3 flowers.
Which is better? That depends on what you want.
5. Look around. Some of the most interesting images I have gotten are not what I started with. Once I have captured that perfect daisy, rose, or some 14 lettered name no one can really pronounce flower, I step back slowly look around. I found the image below just this way. It is a grouping of cactus, or cacti. I’ve personally never liked cactus; yes I was that child that just to touch. This capture is interesting, because in Infrared do not look nearly as menacing, . . . but no,.. not again.