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Simple tips to
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Tips for Better Pictures

Today's e-tip:

Using a Reflector
to take better Flower Pictures

A simple tool that can make ALL the difference!
Reflecting on how to get Great Flower pictures!
Flowers make great subjects, but getting good flower pictures can be difficult. Bright sunlight casts harsh shadows on flowers, and since our cameras exaggerate the difference between shadow and highlights, this can ruin a good shot.

There is one tool that is incredibly simple, easy to use & inexpensive, but amazingly effective in improving flower pictures. It's the "reflector". Reflectors can be very portable - the reflector that I like to use folds to 9" in diameter, which easily fits in my camera bag, but expands to a full 22" - which is more than enough to get great flower pictures. One side is white and the other is a pattern of gold and white. This "patterned" side, has a "warming" effect, which works very well with flower and people pictures, but because it isn't solid-gold, it doesn't "over-warm".

Click below to see more images using this reflector

You can either hold the reflector in one hand and your camera in the other (admittedly awkward!), or if you have a helper, they can hold the reflector for you. Better yet, use a tripod to hold the camera so you can hold the reflector. All of the pictures below were taken with the camera on a tripod. I held the reflector, aiming it so that it reflected the sun's light onto the flower, filling-in the shadows. It's a simple technique, that's incredibly effective.
Holding a reflector

Here are some examples of dahlias that I took at Elizabeth Park, in West Hartford, CT.

In each set of images, the image on the left was taken without the reflector and the image on the right was taken with the reflector.

Notice the following:
  1. The most obvious difference between the images is that when the reflector was used, the harsh shadows on the flower are reduced, providing for a more pleasant image.

  2. When the reflector is used, note that the background is often darker. That's because the reflector provides additional illumination for the flower, but not necessarily the background. This brightness difference between the flower and the background causes the background to be darker, thus helping to "isolate" the flower from the background.

  3. There is a slight "warming" effect to the images taken with the reflector. That's because the gold-portion of the reflector warms the harsh sunlight a bit.

Click on each image group to really see the difference
Without the reflectorWith the reflector
Reflector Comparison

Reflector Comparison

Reflector Comparison

Reflector Comparison

As an added bonus, this reflector works REALLY well with "people" portraits you take outdoors.

Click here to see more images using this reflector

 Click here to see/purchase it (US customers only).

More Hints for Great Flower shots
When shootiong flowers, there's nothing worse than a busy background. You're goal should be to try to "isolate" the flower (or flowers).

You can do this in one of 3 ways:

Dark Background
If you position the flower in front of a shadow area - the camera will render the background very dark in your image, which helps make the flower "pop".

In this image, I positioned myself so that an area in shadow was behind the orchids. That helps to direct the viewer's attention right to the flowers.


Get Close!
Another way to make sure the viewer of your image can't miss seeing your subject is to get REALLY close. If you fill the frame with the flower, or just part of the flower, the image can become very compelling. This often requires critical focusing - best accomplished on a day with little to no wind and a tripod.

This image demonstrates this technique.


Blur the Backgound
A third way to make sure the viewer of your image can't miss seeing your subject is to blur the background. You do this using a wide lens opening (f2.8, f4, etc.). By using a large lens opening, you restrict how much of the image appears to be sharp. By doing this, you blur the background, and help focus attention on your subject.

This image, taken with an aperture of f5.6, blurs the background sufficiently to help focus your attention on the closest flower.


Happy shooting!!

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