the how to photograph Flowers
The amaryllis

My wife gave me an amaryllis photo assignment.  My first attempt was a disaster! I was so disappointed with the resulting gallery of amaryllis photos that I had to try again. I learned how to photograph flowers.

Have you ever come across a beautiful subject and failed miserably at getting a good photo of it? Read on to find out what I did about it and how you can take better flower photos too.

One of my wife's good friends from college gave her a Amaryllis flower bulb as a gift and my wife wanted me to photograph it as it bloomed.

I've dabbled a bit with some macro photography of flowers before, but never had the pleasure to photograph one of these particular beauties before at this time of year. The timing was perfect as it started blooming just a few days before Christmas.

photo of amaryllisMacro Photo of Amaryllis

This was the favorite photo of my wife's amaryllis during my first attempt.  It was the closest perspective I took and, with a little help using Nik Color Efex Pro software, I made it a bit more abstract.

It is a busy time of year, so my goal was knock this assignment off of the honey-do list in 15 minutes of photography.  Mission accomplished, although I spent close to an hour editing the photos and then writing this post.

The amaryllis photo below was my second favorite.  This is not a typical angle to take with flower photography, but I thought the patterns and lines of the green and red colors was interesting.

Side view of amaryllisSide view of Amaryllis
Ugly background again!

I did not use a fancy background and I used no artificial lighting.  We have a two story window in our dining room and I often use this area of my home for a variety of photo set-ups. I use this as a nice soft broad light source when the sun is NOT streaming in. 

For macro photos I often used a piece of folded cardboard, wrapped in aluminum foil to bounce light into the shaded areas of the flower.  Of course a tripod is a must camera accessory for this type of photography.

The brown background was our couch, far enough away to go somewhat somewhat our of focus.  I added to the blur by using a little Gaussian Blur in Photoshop.

The background in the photo below is the top surface of a hope chest that sits in our dining room.  There is a pane of glass that sits on top of the wicker, but I chose an angle that produced no glare on the glass. After looking at the resulting photo of this Amaryllis, I found that allowing the vase to show, above and to the right of the flowers, causes confusion and makes the image less desirable.

top view amaryllisTop View
Distracting background

This overhead view shows how this plant groups its blossoms in all directions.  The slightest vibration caused the anther to release their magic yellow dust.

The flower bloomed so fast that it would have made a great subject for time-lapse photography. In the photo below I attempted to emphasize the contrast between the blooming red flowers and the green bud starting to sprout and join the party.

worst photo from my amaryllis photo assignment

This amaryllis photo was my least favorite.  I know pro photographers are not supposed to show their photos that come up short, but this web site is all about learning

Amaryllis and budAmaryllis and bud
Ugly Background Choice

I tried to create some visual interest to the image by shooting the stem at an angle, but I wasn't happy that the blossom and the bud don't seem to contrast or connect in a visually interesting way.

how to photograph an amaryllis - version 2.0

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Sometimes the best thing to do is start all over again. The big improvement I made on trying to shoot the amaryliss again was to make a winning background choice.

spectacular amaryllisThis is how to photograph an amaryllis the right way!

The second thing I did better was to get my hands on a really amazing looking Amaryllis. I found the color streaks and patterns on this Amaryllis simply amazing. To get in real close I used a set of extension tubes in between my lens and the camera.

Ah, live and learn. Moral of the story is to start with a great looking subject and make sure you've got a great background for it too. If you'd like to browse the website for more topics that interest you, feel free to use the search box below.

To see some of my most successful flower photos, see the examples here. To view, share, copy, or just enjoy another one of my favorite high resolution macro photos of an Amaryllis click here.

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Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

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