Slip away into nature
If I need to relax and recharge, wildflower photography is right up near the top of my list. After many years of living and working overseas, I'm incredibly lucky to live on Vancouver Island now, temperate rain forest, wetlands and ocean and all sorts of flowers everywhere.
Even when I lived in a city there were parks, vacant lots and ditches full of wildflowers. Never discount what we call weeds! Look at the maligned dandelion through a macro lens... it's a beautiful little flower.
I's not always easy to decide what to photograph... you have to make choices because you can't photograph everything. It's usually overwhelming ... the brilliant colours, tantalizing scents, birds singing their little hearts out. Sit, relax, enjoy. Close your eyes and listen and smell the fragrances teasing your nose.
It takes time to know exactly what calls to you. It's like walking into a restaurant with lots of people. At first, you hardly notice anything, but once you've ordered and you're relaxed, you notice all the details of the room and the other people. Just the same when you're out in nature with your camera... after awhile, you'll start to notice details in the environment and certain things will catch your attention... maybe a certain colour, the shape of one particular flower, or the whole panorama.
Wildflower photography fits into 1 of 3 niches...
- Landscape - with expansive vistas of brilliant coloured blossoms, without detail in any one flower. Did the overwhelming colour and numbers of the wildflowers in their natural environment make you gasp? Then photograph the landscape.
- Mini landscapes - a few flower specimens with a slight sprinkling of their natural surroundings. Maybe the large environment isn't what attracted you. There may not be enough flowers and colour to make an awesome landscape image, but there are several gorgeous blooms in a small area that would make a pretty close-up photo. (These make excellent pure botanical pictures and those have to stay "real"... no artistic photo editing.)
- Close up and macro photographs - for an intimate exposure to highlight the 'personality' and detail of the flower. My favorites for artistic editing.
When you're photographing wildflowers
... respect them & their habitat
There are RULES when we're out photographing nature.
- Leave no trace, do no damage to the plants and their surroundings. If there's a leaf or stem in the way of your perfect photograph, a long twist tie or two (gently does it) will temporarily pull the photo-bomber out of the way. When you're finished, again gently, remove it. Leave everything as you found it.
- Some wildflowers are protected. Know which plants they are and do not dig them up or pick them.
Photography as Artistic Expression
It's obvious that I'm not a purist photographer. I was... until I discovered how much I love Photoshop and layers and textures and working for hours on creating art from my images. I'm on my way to mastering the art of the painterly photo!
When I photograph wildflowers, or any other flowers and gardens, I'm thinking about the composition, the background and colours in a way that makes that image a piece of art. I'm learning what textures to use to get the results I want. But I am open to some experimenting and surprises!
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
- John Burroughs
plan your wildflower photography carefully
... wildflowers only bloom for a short time
- There are definite time frames for each genus of wildflower. Know these times for your area, or the area you're visiting
- If wildflowers are a serious subject for you, buy a wildflower guide for the region from any local bookstore or buy one online.
- Make a list of the specific wildflowers you'd like to photograph.
- For each flower, research and write down the dates and the specific place or places you'll find them.
- Set out your wildflower photography schedule.
- Since blooming times change slightly depending on the weather, you'll
have to venture out and see what's flowering or is about to. Don't be
disappointed because you missed your opportunity.
- And, finally, if you want to grow a wildflower meadow or turn that front lawn into a wildflower spectacle... low maintenance.... here's a place to learn more about it. Where else than Wildflower Farm? If you plant your own meadow, you won't have far to go to travel for great wildflower photography.
Take a local wildflower book with you when you're out looking for flowers to
photograph. They're usually small and softcover and not difficult to carry along.
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