Light and Exposure

In photography, exposure means the length of time and the corresponding amount of light waves a photo sensor has gathered. Both shutter speed and aperture can affect exposure, although adjusting shutter and aperture settings manually may affect your flower photography in ways you do not want. For example, if you want a blurry background in bright sunlight, adjusting your shutter speed or aperture may lengthen the depth of field, not shorten it.

Natural light in flower photography is always best. Photographing indoors has its own set of problems, including White Balance, which refers to using a light source such as fluorescent or incandescent light that may cause a color cast on your image. Another problem is low lighting situations that may necessitate extra sources of light and light reflectors. Even light coming in windows will improve photographs of indoor flowers.

This having been said, however, outdoor lighting has its own set of variables, including the time of day, cloudiness, shadow and shade, and bright sunlight.

The unretouched picture of potted fibrous begonias, above, was taken in late morning shade.

This picture of the same potted begonias taken in early evening, in the pink light of the setting sun. This photo shows not only added color but shadows. Which do you prefer?

Backlighting is often much more successful in flower picture taking than with portraiture, which causes problems with exposure and fill light for faces. Here, the light shines through translucent petals of yellow daffodils.

This Easy Does It rose does not benefit from the full blast of the midday sun. Parts of it are over exposed and the colors are affected.  A better picture might be taken in late morning or evening, or on a cloudy day.

Also see:

Tips to control light and exposure
Exposure in Photography from Cambridge Colour

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