How to Photograph Wildflowers in the High Country, Part 1

Bernie Nagy Photographer Central Colorado Colorado Wildflowers nature photography photo tips Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide Rocky Mountains South Park Colorado Wildflower Photography


Wildflowers are an important part of landscape photography. Using them as a foreground almost guarantees an interesting photo and the color that they add can be a very important part of the picture. Shooting wildflowers isn't difficult once you know a few pointers. Here are a couple that works well...

I'm often asked when is the best time to shoot wildflowers in the Rockies. By mid to late June it is usually possible to find wildflowers at the seven to ten thousand foot levels. However, the real displays of high country wildflowers found at eleven and twelve thousand feet usually don't peak until the end of July.

Rule number one to shoot wildflowers as I mentioned in my previous articles is in the morning hours or late afternoon. An added bonus to shooting very early is that you may be able to catch a little dew on the flowers which will make them even more beautiful.

The number two rule for shooting wildflowers is to be sure that at least some of the flowers are very large and are filling a major part the picture frame. The flowers need to be close enough to see petal, stem, and leaf details clearly. Watch out and read your lens or camera manual at first and don’t get too close, otherwise you will end up with blurry images. It is better to stay slightly further away and fill your frame with the subject; you can always crop the pictures to bring out the detail. Photographing a flower meadow without having close up flowers in the front of the meadow will end up a worthless picture. It’s easy to take pictures of a large field of wildflowers and think you are getting nice pictures, only to look at the pictures later and wonder why all the flowers just look like little colored dots.


Globeflowers and Snowball Saxifrage


Alpine Avens at Mt. Evans   

There are several ways of shooting wildflowers. One way is to include just one flower in the picture; pretend that you are making a formal portrait of the individual flower. For example, make a single plant or a single stalk or even a single blossom the sole subject of the picture. The best way to do this is bring the subject in focus and throw the background out of focus, so the flower stands out in all its beauty. To do this, use your manual settings and set your f-stop not smaller than 8 or 11 so your dept of field is very short.

You may read my current article in the “Summer in the Park” magazine or on our website Also we just published recently our new 2014 “Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide" book which shows over 225 Colorado Wildflowers close up. My new “2015 Colorado Wildflower Photo Wall Calendar” just made its debut and is also available through our website. In my next blog I will talk more about wildflower photography in the High Country.

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