Top 10 Tips for Great Wildflower Photography From the Wildflower Capital of Colorado
July 21, 2020 • Leave a Comment
The Top 10 Tips for Great Wildflower Photos from the Wildflower Capital of Colorado
Columbine SummerColorado Blue Columbine, the state flower, bloom on a hillside near Schofield Pass in western Colorado on a perfect summer day.
Crested Butte has been celebrated as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado for over 30 years. This small, former mining town high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains never ceases to provide abundant and colorful floral displays throughout the summer months.
This year the annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival has been substantially curtailed due to the Novel Coronavirus. There are no hikes, no tours, no photo instruction, and, mostly, no participants to be found. It's been a huge disappointment to everyone involved but these are strange times in every respect so when the Festival was canceled, it came as no huge surprise. But, that doesn't mean I can't provide a little photo instruction for those of you who love to take photos of wildflowers.
Here are my top 10 tips for making great wildflower photos in no particular order:
1. Use a tripod. Try to make friends with a sturdy tripod. Besides holding your camera steady, it will give you the opportunity to fine-tune your composition and the ability to step away from your subject and think about what you are trying to accomplish.
2. Bend your knees. Get a better perspective and show your subjects respect by working at or even below their level. This also gives you an opportunity to include the surrounding landscape like the photo above.
3. Don't come in out of the (light) rain, fog, or mist. While most photographers will run for the house, heavy overcast skies help saturate colors and a few raindrops or dew can really add an interesting dimension to your photos.
4. Start Early. Early morning light is usually warmer and less harsh and contrasty. It's also usually less windy and there are fewer competing photographers out just before or after sunrise.
5. Don't be afraid of intimacy. Get in close. Simplify your compositions. Eliminate as many distractions around your subject as possible.
6. Choose perfect subjects. Try to find subjects that have bloomed recently and are pristine and undamaged. Don't be afraid to blow off the bugs and do some minimal "gardening" by bending and hiding surrounding grasses and distractions.
7. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun. Early morning and late afternoon provide the best light and times for wildflower photography unless you're willing to use diffusers and additional equipment to soften the light.
8. Think about your foreground, middle ground, and background. Give your photos some depth by trying to engage all three parts of the scene if possible. Frequently, you'll find the foreground and background interesting with no real help from the middle area. This is a great time for a low-angle point of view.
9. Use a variety of lenses. Keep your images fresh and interesting by mixing it up. I use every lens from a 14mm super-wide-angle to a 300mm telephoto for wildflower photography. The wide-angle lenses are great for including the surrounding landscapes and the longer focal lengths are perfect for isolating single flowers in a sea of out-of-focus surroundings.
10. Keep it fun and creative. Don't be afraid to try new techniques, lenses, filters, diffusers, angles, etc.
These are a few of the tips I share on my photo tours. For more advanced participants, we go a lot deeper discussing what to keep in focus and where to place the subject, etc. Color balance, ISO, additional lighting, how to choose a great tripod, and many other questions get answered in my advanced classes and private tours.
Since I didn't get to teach this summer, I thought I would share a few tips with you since the flowers are still out there waiting to be photographed and shared with the world.
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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.
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