The buds of spring are bursting, and the blossom is finally out in full force. This confetti-like wonder of nature is one of my absolute favourite subjects and is available in such abundance (right now!) that pretty pictures are just ripe for the taking. Read on for some tips on how to capture, then go, go, go and get out with your camera before it’s gone!
The first shoot
When it blooms, it really blooms fast – so find yourself a tree with a weighty blossom and get stuck in. There’s nothing better than a frame filled with fluffy, delicate petals – in my opinion – and you’ve got plenty of options in terms of how your finished shot could look. I’m a big fan of getting nestled in and using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field, allowing some of the petals to partially obscure the lens up close before picking my focal point further into the blooms; giving a sense of being immersed in nature. However, you could go much wider, and take in the whole tree to show off its glory. The M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO lens is great for wide shots, and I love the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO for its versatility, but I’ll always pack my M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens, too when I’m hunting for blossom.
If you’ve ever used a glass prism in your photography, you’ll be familiar with the whimsical, romantic feel they can add to your shots which makes them perfect for petals! Shooting in decent light outside, try holding a prism close to your lens between your camera and the light source, and rotating it around the lens. You should be able to see a variety of different colours and light patterns depending on how you twist it. If you want to shoot right through, try switching to manual focus or press and half hold the shutter button on the focal point before adding in the prism to the mix, so as not to confuse the autofocus pull. You can pick up prisms online fairly cheaply, but I also like to keep an eye out for other bits of interesting glass like chandelier pieces, and drinking glasses, which can all create interesting patterns!
Try isolating a single blossom, or even petal, for a really stand out image and play around with how the colours can change the overall look of the image. You’ll need a nice wide aperture, so a lens like the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO is perfect for this. Locate your subject, isolate it, and shoot wide open. Look out for blooms standing away from others, as the more space between your subject and its background, the more blur you’ll achieve. A cheats approach is to (gently!) pull a branch away to make more space temporarily while you grab the shot, this takes some practice, but thanks to the lightweight Olympus system, some one-handed shots shouldn’t prove too difficult.
Blossom on trees look stunning from a distance, but if you get up close, too, you’ll find delicate details and pollen patterns just begging to be bagged with a good macro lens. I love the M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens as it’s so small and lightweight I can easily pop it in my pocket when I’m out with my camera in case I see an opportunity worth an up-close look. An oldie, but a goodie and another item well-worth packing in your kit bag is a water spray bottle, which you can use to spritz over your subject to mimic rain or dew droplets to add further interest and sparkle to your shots.
Rise and shine
They say it’s the early bird that catches the worm, and it’s never truer for photography than with nature shots. If you can pull yourself away from the warm clutches of bed a few hours earlier and get outside snapping, I promise you’ll be glad for it when you see how beautiful the light is. It’s worth looking at what time sunrise is, and heading out around then with a flask of tea. See how the light changes as it rises through the blue hour, and try backlighting fluffy new blooms for a warm and fuzzy feel to your pictures.
Though I’ve just pointed out that sunrise is a must-shoot time for this type of photography, the end of the day can prove equally fruitful, too. Keep an eye on the weather and sunset times to catch the golden hour, and all the beautiful colours on offer before the sun dips away. If you get a great backdrop, fill the frame and think about the rule of thirds, incorporating your flora into the composition. And if you’re feeling brave, what about some nighttime blooms? Make use of the moonlight – particularly good when it’s a full moon and clear night – and see if you can capture a flower shot illuminated with natural moonlight. If not, you can always enlist the help of a street light, or even the light from your phone.