Tips and techniques for achieving beautiful photographs of snowdrops
February 26, 2016
It's heartening, spotting the first signs that spring is on its way. Snowdrops are the pioneers of the plant world, drawing attention to the seasonal transition despite their shy posture and gentle presence. These beautiful flowers break through last year's fallen, decaying leaves and bring promises of new life and abundance to come.
I have built up quite a collection of snowdrop images, so am taking the opportunity to share some tips for achieving great photographs of these flowers using a few examples from my image library.
The focus is on snowdrops but the simple - yet highly effective - techniques I'm sharing are applicable to many other subjects and situations. I hope this blog entry provides some guidance and inspiration.
Tip #1: Change your perspective
Get down and personal with the flowers, meet them at eye-level and enter their world. This is the first step in creating an engaging image that draws the viewer in.
Tip #2: Consider how you frame your subject
Move around until it feels and looks right. We have a tendency to place the subject in the centre but I've deliberately positioned my focal point of the image below (the three snowdrops) to the right of the frame rather than central. To read more about this technique, google "rule of thirds".
Snowdrops aren't going to run away so they provide a great opportunity to practice framing!
Tip #3: Use the light to your advantage
Cloud is good for balanced photographs without too much contrast and for creating atmospheric shots. Morning/evening sunlight is great for those soft, warm colours that bring your photographs to life.
Tip #4: Avoid distractions
Find individual or groups of snowdrops you can isolate from other "distractions" or change your position to avoid "distracting features" being in frame. A distraction can be anything that clutters up your image or takes focus away from the subject. Note that what is considered a distraction can be subjective and down to personal taste.
I found these four snowdrops sitting in a line together, and positioned myself to avoid (as much as possible) other flowers, twigs and tree stumps.
Tip #5: Choose a "focus flower"
Select a large aperture (small f-stop) and manually focus on an indivdual snowdrop. You can create great effects by selecting flowers further away through gaps in closer snowdrops, as I have achieved in the image below.
Tip #6: Tell a story
Powerful images can be created by looking for details and behaviour that says something without words. I headed out on a very cold frosty morning and discovered these young shoots pushing through a dead leaf. To me it signifies determination, strength and willpower. (As a side note, I continued visiting these two snowdrops, watching and documenting their progress into fully bloomed flowers, and it was an utter joy to see).