... unwind in nature's garden
If I need to relax and recharge, wildflower photography is right up near the top of my list. Now I'm incredibly lucky to live on Vancouver Island, surrounded by temperate rain forest, ocean and all sorts of flowers, cultivated and wild.
But, when I lived in the middle of a huge city there were parks, vacant lots and ditches where wildflowers grew. Never discount the weeds! Look at the maligned dandelion through a macro lens... it's a beautiful little flower.
In my travels, it's not always easy to figure out what I want to photograph... and you can't photograph everything. The more gorgeous the scene, the more overwhelming it all is... the brilliant colours, tantalizing scents, melodious bird songs, it's all too much.
It takes time to figure out exactly what I want to photograph. Relax, acclimate and meditate on it all. When everything slows down, I begin to notice details and what in particular impresses me... a certain colour, one particular flower, or the entire panorama.
I look at wildflower photography fitting 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 take my breath away? Then photograph the landscape.
- Mini landscapes - a few flower specimens and a taste of their natural surroundings. Maybe the large environment isn't what attracted me. There aren't enough flowers and colour to make an awesome image, but there are several gorgeous blooms in a small area that would make a pretty photo. (These make excellent pure botanical pictures and they 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 I totally love Photoshop and layers and textures and working for hours on creating art from my images. I'm well 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 beg artistic transformation. I'm beginning to know what textures I love and use the same, or similar almost every time... I'm 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
... each type of wildflower blooms 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.
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.