Tips for photographing roses 2: little details matter

Photography tips - little details matterWhen you think you’ve got exactly the picture you want, step back and check one last time, as the professionals always do, to see if there’s something small you’ve missed. Howard Rice – a patient, master craftsman of a photographer – would sometimes purse his lips and gently blow warm air over the petals of a rose that was nearly perfect, but not quite fully opened. This might just help space out the petals a fraction. The petals would immediately relax back almost to where they were, but every little helps! He taught me that details the eye somehow ignores in real life can become major distractions when framed in a picture.

  • It won’t do your back any favours, but you’ll be glad you took the trouble to tidy up the stray, decaying petals you find littered underneath the plant or hanging from the foliage.
  • Will your image look better if you tuck the stray leaf behind the flower rather than let it cover half of the bloom?
  • Can you gently pinch off the spent flowers (without leaving stumps)?
  • Everyone loves bees, but do you really want an assortment of flies on your flower? If not, waft them away.
  • Check that the plant label hasn’t crept into the frame.

Small details can really affect the character of your shot – but keep it natural. You don’t want the roses in your pictures to all look like children freshly scrubbed and neatly buttoned up, posing for their first school pictures. But you’ll kick yourself if you get back to find that every shot of that beautiful rose has something irritating in it that you somehow missed. I have three different shots of these roses, each in questionable focus (sigh),

Picture of English rose 'Spirit of Freedom'
English rose ‘Spirit of Freedom’ with a tiny, stray leaf

though I quite like the luminosity this helps to create. Every picture has this tiny brown curled thing on the main flower – part worm, part leaf! I know it isn’t exactly a disaster, and could probably be Photoshopped off, but I can’t help wishing I’d just taken a second to brush it off before taking the final picture – and removed the fallen petal just behind the main bloom, while I was at it. I could imagine someone else thinking this added to the charm of the picture, but I just wish I had given myself the choice! Read last week’s tip on how to take better pictures of roses: wait for a cloud For some wonderful plant portraits to start off the week on a high, visit Howard Rice’s website

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