Home Photography Ideas: Capture Photos of Flowers Outdoors with a DIY Studio
Watch the video: Photography ideas at home – take pictures of flowers outdoors
Being confined to our homes and backyards can make it difficult for our camera to get creative. However, there is a veritable shooting gallery in many gardens – and with the pleasant weather many of us are currently enjoying, this is a great opportunity to explore floral photography at home.
However, while good weather makes for a pleasant afternoon in the garden, it can also mean harsh shadows and blown highlights in your photo. Luckily, we have a great DIY studio technique to help diffuse the light for a beautiful floral still life.
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Our solution is to take control of the lighting using a light tent. This acts as a large diffuser, which you can place over the flower you are photographing to produce softer, low-contrast lighting. You can either buy a lightweight tent or make your own out of translucent white plastic.
In addition to diffusing direct sunlight, lightweight tents are great for adding more controlled light on dull, overcast days when the whole scene might otherwise seem too flat. To do this, you need to place the tent above your chosen flower, as before, but use an off-camera flash placed outside the tent to simulate sunlight. Instead of the harsh, high-contrast light you’d normally get from using flash, the light tent’s translucent walls diffuse it to produce an even, soft light on the flower.
Using a lightweight tent also allows you to control the background. You can use the white tent material as a backdrop or place a piece of colored cardboard behind the object you are photographing for a more colorful image. Because the subject is enclosed, using a lightweight tent can even reduce the possibility of subject movement on windy days.
Commercially produced lightweight tents are available, and these start at very reasonable prices. However, you can also make your own from any solid, translucent white plastic. We made a DIY version from three semi-opaque white A4 ring binders, and used masking tape to tape them together to form a collapsible enclosure…
01 Get your lightweight tent
To build a lightweight tent like this, you’ll need three ring binders. Tape two together to produce the three main sides. Cut one of the flaps from the third file, then attach it in the middle of the three existing sides to form a “roof”. Alternatively, the best lightweight tents start at reasonable prices.
02 Position your subject
Position the light tent over the subject, making sure that the light falling on the flower is diffused over the area you wish to photograph, and that the aperture you will be using to photograph is positioned so that you can create a good composition of the flower .
03 Configure your camera
Once the light tent is in position, set your camera to manual exposure mode and select an aperture of f/5.6, then set the shutter speed to 1/200s so you can use the camera at raise your hand and set the ISO to 200. Take a test shot to check the exposure, and if it’s too bright, lower the ISO.
04 Choose a background
You can take simple and effective images using the white light tent material as a background, or for more color you can use a piece of A4 cardboard or stiff paper in a color that suits your subject. Try using blue or green for the most natural results.
Tips: useful accessories
Want to try this floral still life technique? Take a look at our list of useful accessories to take your DIY studio shots to the next level.
01 Off-camera flash cord
The cheapest and easiest way to use off-camera TTL flash is with a cord such as the Nikon SC-28 we use here.
02 off-camera triggers
Alternatively, radio triggers are a great way to remove your flash from the camera without having to worry about cables getting tangled.
03 Macro lens
Getting close enough to shoot flowers can be tricky with a normal lens, so use a macro lens – we use the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro.
• Read more: The best macro lenses
Even when using a light tent, a reflector can be handy to bounce light back to the flower to bring out even more detail.
• Read more: Best reflectors
If you have trouble getting clean results handheld, use a tripod. Make sure it will allow you to place the camera as low as possible.
• Read more: Best tripods
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