Capturing Wildflower Heaven

Summer's blooms can last forever - if you know how to capture them.
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Summer's blooms can last forever - if you know how to capture them.
Wetterhorn Sunflowers image by Jack Brauer

Spot: Wetterhorn Peak, Uncompahgre Wilderness, COSpecs: F/20, 1/10 Sec., ISO 800, 24MM Focal LengthTools: Tripod, Wid-angle LensPhoto by: Jack Brauer

TARGET A BACKDROP

Here’s a secret: In the most inviting flower shots, the blooms play a mere supporting role. Find a background scene that’s impressive on its own, like a peak or lake. (A close-up flower photo won’t look any different than one you take in your front yard.) Shoot with the sun over one shoulder to combine the simplicity of a front-lit exposure with the drama of shadows

ARRANGE YOUR "BOUQUET"

Next, scout for the perfect foreground. Look for strong, healthy flowers with no withered or missing petals. (It sounds obvious, but we’ve seen great shots ruined by dying blossoms.) If necessary, explore off-trail for more pristine plants. If your flower has a good side, make sure it’s facing the camera.

GET CLOSE

so the blooms fill your foreground. A wide lens (16 to 24 mm) will make the flowers look larger while including the scene-setting background.

FOCUS

the more of the scene that’s sharp, the more the viewer can imagine being there. To achieve a large depth of field, select a very small aperture (f/11 to f/22). Then focus on the closest bloom. In wind or if not using a tripod, don’t let your shutter speed go longer than 1/60 second; increasing the ISO will let you shorten the shutter speed without adjusting aperture. Option B: For an artistic look, open the aperture wide and keep only the foreground in focus. Get even lower and closer so the sharp flowers fill most of the frame.

genny’s gear pick

Nokia Lumia Icon They say the best camera is the one you have with you. With the Icon, I’m finally convinced. This Windows smartphone runs apps, makes calls, and offers key advanced features like 20-megapixel shooting, a RAW file format, and some manual controls. Our test units survived multiple drops and light rain, and helped me capture everything from sunrise on a frozen Finnish river to the sticky fingers of my daughter’s first s’mores. $549 ($199 with a two-year Verizon contract); 5.9 oz.; nokia.com

Your Turn

Go to backpacker.com/photoschool to submit your shots for critique and see a slideshow of more photos by Jack Brauer.

spot: Wetterhorn Peak, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Co
Specs: f/20, 1/10 sec, ISO 800, 24mm Focal Length
Tools: Tripod, Wide-Angle Lens