Photography ideas

Home Photography Ideas: Fill Flower Photos with a Zoom Lens

Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas – Frame Fill Flowers With Zoom

When shooting flowers close-up, you would usually aim straight at a macro lens. In this project, however, we’ll show that sometimes all you need is a zoom lens, which will allow you to focus close enough for photos of flowers filling the frame.

A zoom is great for other images in your garden, as we demonstrate in our project on Using Long Lenses for Floral Photos, but here we’re specifically looking to get great close-ups that fill your frame.

We use the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4L IS USM lens on its telephoto end, and we mounted it on a Canon EOS 7D. So, with the camera’s 1.6x APS-C crop factor, the focal length of 105mm becomes an effective focal length of almost 170mm. The longer the focal length, the more the flower will appear in your frame – and, combined with the wide f / 5.6 aperture we used, creates a shallower depth of field to blur the background and bring out the focus. flower even more.

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Before (left) and after using this technique!

We made our way to the garden before breakfast for a weak, soft morning light. We shot in the light, although backlit shots are best for more interesting, artistic, and evocative flower shots.

Find a colorful flower in full bloom to focus on – a single flower provides a lighter focal point – and position yourself so that the flower has a dark, clean background to contrast its colors. We also used a reflector, to subtly fill in the shadows.

Finally, compose your photo according to your subject – for this tall stem flower, a vertical composition worked best, but for a large sunflower head, you might prefer to use a horizontal composition to fill the frame. Here’s how to take the shot step by step …

01 Go telephoto

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At 24mm, there is too much background noise ...

At 24mm, there is too much background noise …
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... but at 105 mm we have a very isolated subject

… but at 105 mm we have a very isolated subject

Avoid wide-angle focal lengths, as you will fill the frame with an annoying background; instead, zoom in to isolate the plant and blur the background. If you’re using a crop sensor system, like Micro Four Thirds or APS-C, the crop factor will make sense by multiplying your focal length.

02 Grand opening

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At f / 22, we don't have a lot of subject separation ...

At f / 22, we don’t have a lot of subject separation …
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... but at f / 5.6 we have a shallow depth of field while maintaining sharpness

… but at f / 5.6 we have a shallow depth of field while maintaining sharpness

We shot aperture priority at f / 5.6, which produced a shallow depth of field but had enough sharp image that the majority of the flower head was in focus. Combined with the longer focal length, this creates a background blur so that your flowers are proud of their surroundings.

03 Using Tripods and Live View

It is good practice to use a tripod. For close-up flower photos, not only does your camera stay still for sharper images, it also helps you compose more precisely, especially when using Live View, for the easiest focus precision. and the best. Magnify the view to zoom in and make sure you are in focus where you want to be!

Best tripods

04 Backlight is the best

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Our subject, sunny ...

Our subject, sunny …
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... then backlit

… then backlit

Shoot in the early morning sun to backlight the flower head and bring it to life, and use a lens hood to reduce lens glare. Alternatively, you can try shooting with your back to the sun for a more traditional flower photo. Which do you prefer?

5 ways to improve your close-ups

01 Beat the wind

Wind can spoil your close-up photos, as flowers blown in the breeze can cause unwanted blur. We used the kids’ dinosaur clip, which held the flower still as we captured photos without motion blur.

02 Use a reflector

The bounced light illuminates the flowers! As the flower became brighter with the reflected light, our exposure increased from 1/160s to 1/250s which gave a darker background to help it stand out even more. .

Photo tip: make your own reflector out of foil and cardboard!

03 Clean backgrounds

The key to beautiful close-up flower photos is to make sure there is a good distance between the subject and the backdrop, and to avoid messy distractions. Position yourself so that the background contrasts and complements each other.

04 Sharper shots

Narrow apertures not only create too much depth of field for close-ups, but also result in slower shutter speeds and potentially more blurry shots. Use a wider aperture and increase ISO sensitivity to 400 or 800 for faster shutter speeds.

05 There is no crowd

Be creative with your focus, using shallow depth of field as a friend. And instead of just one flower, try composing photos with three flowers, but not two. Odd numbers generally work best for a more balanced composition.

Read more:

Best telephoto lens in 2020: the best zooms for your camera
The best reflectors for photography in 2020: control your lighting with ease!
The best macro lenses in 2020: get closer than ever to your subjects!

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