Infra-red simulation of tulips

 One of my favorite subjects over man years has been floral photography. To make compelling images takes creativity and strong technique, so I thought, in case you were interested, that a bit of guidance may be helpful. Flowers have all the elements we photographers love; color, texture and often intricate design. They can be a challenging to capture. To get good shots you need only three elements, a sturdy tripod, a camera with a close focusing lens, and an understanding of depth of field. Depth of field is the range within a photo that it is in focus, it is determined by the distance from subject and the aperture set on your lens. If you are far away, a mid aperture, say F/8 may be all you need, when you get in close, F/22 may not do the trick. The two images below were shot at the same aperture, F/14 with a simple white background in ambient light. The first has a full range of focus, the second being sharp only on  front petal.  The difference being the shooting distance. 

F/14 @ 1/25 sec

F/14 @ 1/13 sec

If you want to get in really close, you may find that even F/22 won’t do the job, in which case you will want to make a composite photo out of several images made at different focal points, as with this orange rose also shot in ambient light. I took 9 exposures in increments to focus from the front most petal to the back. If I took one photo at the chosen exposure, F/13, much of the flower would have been out of focus. The second photo, done with studio lighting for more contrast, was also made with multiple exposures for full sharpness. The process is done in Photoshop by importing all of the images, creating a stack, aligning and blending them. It is relatively automated, but make sure you have increments tight enough (plenty of shots) to avoid unwanted artifacts. The second photograph is also a stacked image, shot with a white background and studio lighting for more contrast.  To learn more about focus blending using stacked images, go to the Photoshop tutorial at

Having full focus isn’t always an advantage. A blurred area can make a photo more compelling. I took these photos in gardens with the lens at wider apertures to separate the subject from the background.

How you approach floral studies is a matter of taste. Taking the photographs in natural light or studio light;  shooting arrangements, single flowers or some parts of flowers … just keep shooting and you’ll find your jam. 

©Photos by Aboud Dweck, All rights reserved
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