Instant Inspiration (17) – Flower Photography with Zoom

Dreamy Poppies
1/200 sec @ f/5,6 ISO 320 and 135mm focal length

Sometimes I show you something on the “Streets of Nuremberg” that is outside the usual scope of my posts about street- and travel photography. During May natures just pops (pardon the pun 😉 ). Lush green and bright colors everywhere. But often the weather is still inconsistent, with many cloudy days. These conditions are actually perfect for some flower photography using a zoom lens. For more photos and some how-to continue after the jump…

Dreamy Poppy
1/200 sec @ f/5,6 ISO 320 and 150mm focal length

Take your camera and a zoom lens and head out to your next best field, lawn or woodland area where you find some high grass with flowers. Extend your lens to the far end of its zoom range, get down low and focus on a flower (or a group of flowers) a bit away. It absolutely doesn’t hurt if there are weeds in-between your lens and the object your focus on, this helps to create this dreamy and slightly blurred effect. Open the aperture to its widest setting (in case of my zoom lens this was f/5,6 at the far end of its range). Depending on the movement of the flowers / weeds set your shutter speed to about 1/200 as a starting point, the ISO results from those settings, but due to the open f-stop it should be in a range that modern cameras can handle easily.

Pink Poppy
1/200 sec @ f/5,6 ISO 320 and 150mm focal length

Then shoot away, experiment with the settings. Try portrait and landscape format, zoom in tight or go a bit wider. Experiment!

1/250 sec @ f/5,6 ISO 640 and 150mm focal length

On a cloudy day the sky acts like a giant soft box, smoothing out an even, pleasing light and eliminating harsh contrast which you don’t want in these kind of photographs.

Hope you liked this short excursion into flower photography. And doesn’t this post fit perfectly with the celebration of Mothers Day this coming Sunday? Give your Mom a nicely framed flower picture 😉

Check out my Learning Center, here you can find all my tips and inspirations around photography in an easy to navigate overview! Enjoy!

Have a great Friday!


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Off Topic – Studio Anywhere

Go out and experiment!

19 thoughts on “Instant Inspiration (17) – Flower Photography with Zoom

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  1. Marcus, have you ever really tried to do photography for a living? You just seem so much of a natural or would that kind of kill the fun for you? Just curious 🙂

    1. I never tried to go pro, Elizabeth. It is so hard to make a living from photography and I have the utmost respect for people who do. So for now I keep the job that pays the bills and do photography for fun and as creative outlet. The goal is to eventually make some money on the side and have something to do once I retire 😉

      1. I am pretty sure you could indeed earn a living as you are THAT good but yes paying bills is important as we can’t eat air sandwiches 🙂 So then I’ll say once you “retire” and become famous that I knew Marcus back in the day … 😃

  2. I’d read this before – about using your zoom for close-up photography. Natch – I always go to my macro instead. But this provides a new approach!

    I was taking some macro shots of flowers yesterday and also fussing with focusing until – duh! – I remembered to use the manual focus instead. That made a huge difference. 🙂 Do you use manual focus as well using the zoom?

    1. Thanks, Julie, really appreciate your comment. The Olympus mirrorless cameras have a very efficient phase detection auto focus. So lazy as I am, I’m using center point autofocus to lock on the flower that is my main subject. This even works shooting through weeds. If it doesn’t lock on I switch to manual focus, even with the zoom. Marcus

      1. Ah. Those settings are something my husband has played with but while I’m familiar with then at a high level I’m otherwise agnostic. 🙂 I’ll definitely check that out. Thanks!!

  3. This is wonderful. I finally had figured out that gray, cloudy days are sometimes better for flower photography, but I’d never thought of using my 70-300mm lens.

    But, this little tip really stopped me: ” It absolutely doesn’t hurt if there are weeds in-between your lens and the object you focus on, this helps to create this dreamy and slightly blurred effect.” Twice in the past month, I’ve accidentally created this effect. I finally figured out how I’d done it, and you’re right that it can be dreamy and delightful. The next step is to try and replicate it on purpose.

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