Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
It's time to take wildflower pictures again and I
thought I would offer my own thoughts and tips
on taking pictures that will set you apart from the
crowd. It is pretty hard to take a bad picture of a
flower, so turning it around, I would say it is also
pretty hard to take a unique picture of a
wildflower. I have no problem with anyone just
shooting a pretty picture, but personally I want
more than just a documentary photo. Here are
my thoughts on how to be different.

I believe the hallmark of a good photo is long
dynamic range and nuance. I like dark, but
textured, darks, and light, but texured, lights. I
want both ends of the possible shadings of light if
I can possibly get it. I think it animates a picture
and makes it emotional.

Another thing I do is look for something very
different. When walking through the forest, I
focus on the play of light, on shadow, on the lines
and forms of different potential subject flowers. Is
there a story to be told?
Stretch –It is hard to take a great photo of a subject that is both easy to shoot and beautiful.

Finding new ways to interpret them requires careful observation and thought about composition –  it is the difference that creates inspired photos.
Thoughts on Photographing Wildflowers
First Wildflower 2009
Above – This composition involves an odd number of elements, three different stages of blooming, three different shadows, and contrast with dead leaves, and a hard rock. It says sunrise, new life, and portrays the unfolding of new flowers. There is a story.
Dead Grass Lost Valley
Below – This is a great time for abstracts of line and curves formed by dead grasses.
Lost Valley Daffodils
Above – Daffodils shot in filtered light have interesting detail and look very soft. It can be challenging to shoot these flowers against the dark backdrop. These are not wildflowers, but they are on land once occupied by pioneers in Boxley Valley.
I like to look for wildflower pictures around runoffs and along creek banks. The reason is that these settings create unique points of view and angles for my photos. Often these same areas contain flowers that only grow in wet areas like jack-in-the-pulpits and certain ferns.

Before you shoot pre-visualize how you will proceed. I am not saying you should set rigid side-boards, but you should not waste time figuring out what you might do and risk losing great light.

Everyone knows about the sweet light at the ends of the day. Wildflower shooting also involves filtered light, and it can be dramatic.
Wild Iris at Broadwater Falls
Left – Three things drew me to this photo. First it was a single wild iris, second was the cutting light, and third was the framing semi-circle of petals. Low angle light makes a photo more 3D and often renders pastel flower more saturated.
Trillium, Lost Valley 2008
Think AND Feel – Plan, but let your heart lead your eye to those compelling photos that speak to you.