5 tips for photographing blossom

Pink cherry blossom

It is Spring again in the Northern hemisphere! Every time the trees start to blossom I want to grab my camera and take photos. I love the delicate colours of the blossom, the soft pinks and whites, the fragile flowers the last only a few days before the best is over. But the show is absolutely marvelous, all the times, every year. I was not always happy with the photos I came back with. But over the years, I’ve learnt a few things and I would like to share a few tips with you.

Tip 1: Zoom in

What I usually struggled with was the background. These beautiful trees are planted next to a garage or on the side of a road. I did not find any photo in my archives of a whole tree in blossom. I have always selected parts of the tree: a branch or just a flower. This is my first tip: get closer to the blossom. If you can’t get a clear shot of the whole tree or don’t like the surrounding, zoom in!

white stellar magnolia
White blossom – three in a row

Tip 2: Mind the background

Maybe if you live in the countryside it becomes easier to find a cleaner background, but in a city I’ve found it not so easy. And even when zooming in, your photo will still have a background, unless the flower will fill the whole frame. But in short: all photos have backgrounds, so pay attention to this. A great subject with a distracting background does not make the best photo.

pink blossom on green background
Beautiful pink blossom in a local park

Tip 3: Use a wide aperture

This brings us to our third tip. What helps with the background is a luminous lens with a large aperture (low f/number, like f/2.8 or even lower). The large aperture helps to blur the background and make the element in the foreground pop. This way even if the background is not exactly what you wanted, if it is sufficiently blurred, it will not distract from your main subject.
In this article you’ll see photos I’ve taken with two lenses: the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM IS II and the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. There’s are big differences between the two lenses, but what they have in common is that they both have a wide aperture. This last lens is actually quite cheap and small, so a good lens to have in your bag.
If you don’t have any of these lenses, don’t worry. I would suggest you take a lens with a long focal length. Lenses have a shallow depth of field at longer focal lengths and make your background look blurred, so your blossom will pop.

Tip 4: Take care of your composition

Now let’s have a look at some photos. Even if we want to get a close-up of the blossom, we should still think of the composition. Of course this does not mean that we can not place the blossom in the middle of our photo, like in the photo below. But not all the time… I think in this photo it works, because the branche is surrounded by these three flowers almost embracing it, pushing it to the centre.

white blossom
White blossom with a blurred background

In the next photo though, the rule of thirds works much better though. Placing the branch with flowers that’s in focus on the left creates a pleasant tension, while the out of focus blossom fill the frame not leaving the rest a flat green and adding depth.

pink blossom on green background
Pink blossom on a green background. Note how the in-focus part and the out-of-focus part create depth

Tip 5: Look for complementary colours

Most of the times Nature has done all the work for us, but knowing the colour wheel can help us to create an interesting composition. Pink and green are complementary colours. Quite some blossom is pink and finding a green background is not always impossible. These colours enhance each other and therefore your photo.

Pink stellar magnolia
The stunning pink flower looks even more beautiful on a green background

I hope you find these tips useful. If you did please let us know and leave us a comment.
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