Tips for wildflower photography in Colorado’s High Country

Bernie Nagy Photographer Colorado Wildflowers nature photography photo tips Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide

Photographing wildflowers close up, remember your camera records everything you see in the view finder or on the LCD screen. It will record the beauty of your subject when it is sharply focused and it pops out from its background that is kept out of focus. Be mindful, your camera will also record ugly dead sticks, wilting petals or even bug-eaten leaves. In close up shots, make the flowers look at you, which means that often you will have to get down to the same level as the flower that is just inches off the ground.


Pasque Flower and Shooting Star Columbine                                            

If using a tripod, you may use in addition a remote release. When hand holding your camera or using a single pod, it is best to do your exposure with the self timer set at 2 seconds which should eliminate possible shakes.
For shooting wildflowers close up, it is best is to manually focus on the subject you choose and set your aperture between 8 and 11. A smaller aperture will keep your foreground as well as your background in focus, too, which may make the area around the subject appear perhaps too busy.
I prefer to do some gardening around the flowers. When I shoot from the lowest angle, I remove unnecessary grasses or weeds and other debris like little dead branches around the subject to make the surroundings as pretty as possible.
To open up shadows in the subjects or on a cloudy day, I use a small inexpensive white reflector (a white cardboard will work too) - better than filling in with flash which sometimes gives an unnatural appearance or is too harsh.
To let the subject really jump out at you, you may create a shadow behind the flowers either by having a person to create shade or by placing a backpack or camera bag beside your subject.
In getting the focus just right, I use a sometimes a small inexpensive laser pen to make a point on the subject to focus on---then my close up subject is sharp when I manually focus in on the spot.(Best of course is if your camera is on a tripod.)


Small Kinnickinnick blossoms and Marsh Marigold group

Photographing white petals on flowers can be tricky since with a normal reading you may overexpose the details in them. Bring down your aperture by a half to a full stop or go to a faster speed setting for a more pleasant photo with good details in the bright areas.
One more suggestion: Go out early in the morning to shoot landscapes or wildflowers or use late afternoon clouds to get more interesting shots along with some shadows besides the subjects.
To learn more with personal feedback, check out my photo workshops in South Park this summer – go to and then click under events.

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