Make Art: Lighting for Floral Art Photography
Howdy, my friends! I hope you are well! This post is a first for me in that it came about at the request of one of my fantabulous readers.
She requested that I give a wee tutorial on how I photographed the Star Magnolia that I framed to put in my dining room. So, because I’m just that kind of gal, I’m going to show you how I photographed the magnolia and share my tips on lighting for Floral Art Photography (there has to be a better name, but I just can’t think of it!)
And this post almost has a Science Fair feel to it! It’s been a few years since my kiddos were involved in one, and this brought back fond(?) memories.
And at the end of the day, it’s all about light…and where you put it. In this case, I directed the light right on the face of the flower, but you could just as easily direct it to the backside if that’s what you prefer.
What you Need for your Floral Art Photography:
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- Flower, of course! The color is up to you. I was able to find one last Star Magnolia, it’s about at the end of it’s blooming period.
- Black Background. I use a black foam core tri-fold board, as you would use for a Science Fair.
- Light…I have a light set that I used for the first image. But for this post, all the following images were taken without my light set. Instead, I used a just a simple clamp light, the kind you would use in your garage
- Lightbulbs…this is where it got interesting. For my photo above, I used a bulb marketed for photography. It’s a CFL 50W bulb, equivalent to 250 watts and balanced for pure white light. However, for this post, I played around with several other bulbs to show you the different outcomes, a GE Energy Smart 20W CFL and a GE Reveal 75W Traditional Bulb
- DSLR Camera, I use a Nikon d3300
- 50mm Lens, I used an AF-S Nikkor 50mm. You don’t need a 50mm lens for all of the shots I took.
- Tripod or something to keep your camera steady. I use a Vanguard Alta Pro
How To: Lighting for Floral Art Photography
- Set up your space. I did this on my kitchen table, with the tri-fold board blocking the light from the window.
- All of my lights were off except for the bulb shining on the flower.
- I clipped the light on to a chair, but it needed a wee bit of support so I also rested it on the box of lightbulbs.
- I placed the flower about 3.5 feet from the board. This is helpful so that you can really just light the flower and not the board.
- My camera was about 4-5 feet from the flower. If you are using a telephoto, your distance could be different.
- I shot the flower on a couple of different settings using the 3 different light bulbs. Every shot was at ISO 100 and an automatic white balance. I set my focus so that the center (is that the stamen? the pistil?) was the focus target.
Observations (there’s that Science Fair feeling):
- Those very faint, little blue lines running to the right of the flower are from the light coming under the bulletin board. You could avoid that altogether by putting a towel behind the bulletin board or edit it out in PhotoShop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6.
- While I love the true light that my 50W produces, it really did light up the back of the board more than the others. I was able to edit that out in Lightroom, but if you don’t have Lightroom, you might want to push that board even farther back or try to angle the light such that it doesn’t hit the back of the board at all.
- I was really surprised at how yellow the 25W CFL made the flower. I went back after seeing this and changed the white balance to fluorescent and it really wasn’t much different.
- None of these images were edited at all…this is the way the came out of the camera with those settings. If you do have editing software you could punch up or down the white/black, change the contrast and do all sorts of things.
- I was pleasantly surprised at how the 75W Reveal bulb performed, especially at f5 for 1/40 seconds. Here’s a closer look at that one, without any editing.
I hope this answered the question on this gives you some encouragement to get your camera out and start shooting, it’s one of those ‘practice makes perfect’ things. I am by no means a professional photographer but would be glad to answer any questions you might have on what my experiences are.
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Ok…I feel like such a photography geek. I absolutely loved this post.Thank you for sharing all the great information. I am always playing around with lighting and camera settings. My favorite shots are always food and smaller objects. Photographing a larger space overwhelms me. 🙂
Hey there fellow Geek! I completely agree with you, so much easier focusing in on those smaller items where you can control the space a bit more. But the more we practice, the better we will get!
Have you started packing yet?
Have a great weekend.
Lynn thanks for this tutorial. I don’t have a manual camera just an instant. But when I get one you can be sure I’ll be using all your great tips. I was interesting to see just how much the light bulb affects the image.
I was really surprised about the difference in light bulbs! I will surely be able to save some money by using those Reveal bulbs instead of the expensive ‘photo quality’ bulbs.
Have a great day my friend.
Your picture was lovely and your instructions so clear, thank-you for sharing all of your great insights!
You are so very welcome Beverly. I am by no means an expert, but glad to show what worked for me.
It really seems to always come down to the lighting, thanks for the great tips Lynn!
Hi Julie! It really does come down to the light..doesn’t it! Thanks for the kind comment.