Let’s face it, there aren’t many of us who don’t enjoy the beautiful sight of Spring blossom in full swing! If you have ever been to Japan, then you will know that a huge deal is made of this amazing time of year, what better way to join in with the tradition of Hanami than by using your camera to capture the glory. Taking a bit of time to appreciate this beautiful display will not just be good for improving your photography skills, but ideal for a little mindfulness as well!
So here are my tips to start you taking great blossom photos this Spring…
1. Go Out when the Weather is Bright.
The best times of day are mid-morning or mid-afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. Photographing at this time of day will mean you won’t end up with the harsh sun burning out the delicate petals in your photograph. An overcast day is fine but if it is too grey then the petals will look dull and flat. A sunny afternoon will give you some great texture to work with.
Note: If you want the sharpest images, make sure it’s not windy.
2. Use a Small Depth of Field
The Photo above show the effect of using a low aperture (2.8). When photographing blossom it is helps to blur out some of the background so that it doesn’t take away from the detail in the flowers.
Using your Camera on Manual Mode to Control Aperture
If you are comfortable with your camera on manual and you can set your aperture to around 2.8 or as low as you can go and then set your Shutter Speed and ISO accordingly for correct exposure.
Using Your Camera on Aperture Priority Mode
If you are not comfortable on full manual mode then try Aperture Priority Mode. This will allow you to set a small aperture with the camera selecting the other settings for you, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting the exposure correct.
A small depth of field will allow you to isolate a few flowers in the frame, leaving the background progressively out of focus.
Note: If you select a larger depth of field, which may happen if you use a point and shoot, automatic mode or iPhone without portrait mode, then you could end up with a very busy and confusing photo (like below).
3. Photograph Slightly Darker than you Think.
If you are photographing light and delicate petals then you can easily lose definition and detail in the flowers by your photograph being too bright, now this may be a look you want to go for however you are always better off lightening your photo in an app on the computer afterwards. Once your photograph is too light, you can’t darken it down very easily.
4. Photograph up Through the Tree.
Photographing up through the blossom can produce a lovely effect, stand close to the trunk and point your camera up through the branches. Focus on branches about midway into the photo so your eye is drawn to the sharp petals in the middle of the image. If you focus on petals that are too close, the viewers eye won’t be drawn into the photograph.
5: Move Around the Tree
If you want a softer look then use the shade of the tree to photograph blossom up close.
For a more striking look, move around to the sunny side of the tree.
6. Point your Camera into the Sun
Play with flare by pointing your camera towards the sun. By hiding the sun slightly behind a tree trunk or a branch (so as not to totally blow out all the detail) you will produce a lovely dreamy effect.
7. Take a Cutting Indoors
If it’s your tree, set up a small space indoors with a dark background and a light to photograph your blossoms in a totally different setting. You should find you can produce some interesting effects.
8. Find Inspiration After the Event
Once the blossom has fallen, there will still be time to catch a beautiful carpet petals, play with angles and height to create some stunning photographs.
A Few Extra Tips
Don’t use Flash
Unless you are going for a particular style, then I would definitely not recommend using flash for blossom, or any other natural photography.
Shoot in RAW
If you are comfortable photographing in RAW and know how to process the files on your computer, I would definitely recommend. You will have the most options in post production by working this way. If not then large JPEG will be good enough.
Find the Right Tree
I would recommend finding a large Ornamental Cherry Tree, they really are the most magical trees to be under in Spring.
For some more blossom inspiration, check out my Spring Pinterest Board…