Macro Photography for Flowers and Plants - dummies

By Thomas Clark

Flowers and plants are commonly used as subjects in macro and close-up photography, and rightfully so. In many cases flowers and plants depend on their attractiveness for reproduction. So it’s only natural that photographers are attracted to them when looking for something to photograph.

Flowers and plants in nature are typically cooperative subjects, being that they don’t move very fast on their own, and they can’t be scared off like living creatures can. The main issue you come across when photographing flowers and plants is their tendency to sway in the wind.

The best way to avoid issues with wind is to go out shooting at times when there is no wind. Going out early in the morning can usually buy some time before the wind starts to become an issue (depending on where you are shooting).

You can prepare yourself for blocking slight amounts of wind by bringing a light stand, a piece of cardboard or foam core, and clamps to hold the board to the stand, but if the wind is heavy, then you may want to try coming back another time when it’s calmed down.

Lighting is the most important factor in creating beautiful images of flowers. Most photographers use a soft light to accentuate and emphasize the delicate nature of a flower itself. Generally the early morning and late afternoon provide excellent light to photograph with.

Figure out what most interests you in the subject to determine what kind of lighting suits your message. If the plant has interesting texture and form, then sidelight is ideal, as in this photograph.


100mm, 1/250, f/8, 400

If the plant has delicately shaped leaves, soft light is a good choice, as shown in this photograph. To create a dramatic look for a plant, a lighting situation that’s high in contrast is appropriate.


50mm, 1/40, f/8, 1600

Plants often look healthy and fresh in the spring or early summer months. It’s usually a good idea to photograph plants on the first sunny day after a good day or two of rain has passed. This is when they really show their color and liveliness.