Person taking pictures of flowers in natural light for Gulbaan

Golden Hour Magic: Enhancing your Flower Photography with Natural Light

This has been a record year for us here at Gulbaan, both in terms of sales and the pre-Valentine content we produced. A big part of what made this year so special was our ability to showcase emotional connections through photography. 

The key to achieving this was the use of natural light and golden hour photography to enhance the sentiments that flowers are meant to represent. In light of our success, we’ve decided to share the joy and expertise that come with capturing flowers at their best.

How to Take Beautiful Flower Pictures: Flower Photography Tips

Before addressing any kind of light-related photography tips, here are some general ones to keep in mind for impactful photos. Firstly, composition matters! Are your flowers going to be centre-framed, are you following the rule of thirds (a bold, but playful choice for flowers) or is it a land of lawless creativity you’re after? Any composition you pick will tell a different story, for example, many of Gulbaan’s posts are composed with the bouquet as the central point. 

An important reason for this is that most of our bouquets are new launches and we want them to be the spectacle our audience looks at. As a flower company committed to producing farm-fresh flowers for our customers, we aren’t afraid to let the flowers be the star of the photo.

Whimsical Wonder | Gulbaan

However, alternative compositions can convey relevant messaging depending on your goal with the photography. Using the rule of thirds, which involves dividing up your image space into 9 equal quadrants and placing your focal object on the left third or right third part of the image, you can achieve results similar to those depicted below.

In our experience, the rule of thirds is one of those flower photography tips which are great to use for blooms in vases where the goal is to create a particular mood and aesthetic. Hence, photography like this is often used in a personal capacity to showcase fondness for the presence of nature in an indoor setting.

Add to that a play of lighting, you can further enhance certain messages. Such as soft light and background with books can indicate a cosy and homely vibe. Similarly, direct sunlight in the photo can create sharp shadows and give a more dramatic feel to the image, energising the audience. 

When capturing flowers in natural light, always remember location matters. That’s the next big photography tip to remember. Do you take pictures of flowers in fields, parks and gardens? Maybe landscape photography is what you’re after. Or are you a fan of a particular kind of flower and want your image to be focused on say different varieties of roses?

Either way, here’s a Gulbaan top tip for you, there is no lighting substitute for outdoor daylight. Take it from us, we’ve tried! Studio lighting alone just doesn’t do the natural beauty of flowers justice. You would have to put in a lot more effort to get the same results, such as finding an entry point for natural light like a window, selecting the time of day when that window gets the right kind of radiance, decluttering backgrounds and so on.

Take your flower photos outdoors, in a spot where you get plenty of natural light. Your location choice is informed by your goal for the photograph. For us at Gulbaan, our photos must make the bouquet stand out hence we go for neutral backgrounds, outdoors, preferably light coloured with plenty of direct sunlight.

Starry Night | Gulbaan

Natural Light in Photography 

While all-natural light is great for flower photography, some variations of natural light are better than others. The perfect outdoor condition for flower photography is a cloudy, overcast sky.

It allows for the kind of soft lighting that accentuates textures and detailings of petals. It reduces any sharp shadows, harsh bright spots and the awkward probability of your camera or smartphone’s shadow disrupting a perfect shot. Light is evenly spread out making the exposure uniform as well.

However, an important caveat is to not assume any time on a cloudy day is the best time for flower photography. You want to be getting most of your photographs midday when the sky is brightest, otherwise, you’ll have trouble getting enough light to do your floral photography justice and the flowers will look dull and unimpressive. 

When using the great outdoors for capturing flowers in natural light, you don’t have to be confined to just what the weather is offering you. 

  • Use reflectors and diffusers to enhance lighting
  • Spruce up your bouquet with a hydrating spray

Reflectors and diffusers can help manipulate and soften light for more desirable outcomes. Reflectors can fill in shadows and add a subtle glow to the photo by bouncing sunlight onto the subject.

Diffusers can soften harsh light and create a more evenly illuminated masterpiece. You can always learn more here about the right angles to use reflectors and diffusers to get the best results.

They are also a cost-effective way to enhance photography, especially if you want to do it in a professional capacity. Therefore, among key photography tips for florists is to invest in a good camera, in today’s day and age even a smartphone will suffice, and also a light reflector kit which includes a basic set of diffusers as well.

Another tip to remember as a florist is that rain goes a long way in enhancing the natural appeal of flowers! Ever appreciated how after a downpour, plants and trees just have this fresh glow? It’s the perfect blend of plenty of diffused natural light from a cloudy sky mixed with water droplets on petals that give it a fresh tint.

As a florist, keep a watering can or hydrating spray handy and give your flowers a light spritz before photographing them. It’ll make the blooms appear as farm-fresh as the day you picked them! 

Golden Hour Photography

There is a lot of flexibility that natural light can offer outdoors, but we cannot talk about sunlight without addressing the elephant in the room, the golden hour! For those living under a rock where the golden hour obviously can’t be reached, it is the best time of the day for any photographer, whether your subject is human or flower.

When the sun is low in the sky, an almost perfect condition for photography is created because a setting sun produces warm, soft light giving the photographed subject an auburn, dreamy quality. Your work as a photographer is minimised and all you have to do is capitalise on that time by being ready to capture your subject, which in our case is flowers. 

As far as natural light in photography goes, it doesn’t get better than this.

However, for those of you precocious enough to go the extra mile, here are some extra steps to enhance the magic of the golden hour! By placing the sun behind your flowers, you can create a fairytale glow for the bouquet. 

Added to that some help from reflectors to bounce the sunlight onto the flowers, you are sure to give your blooms an almost halo-like presence in the frame. Another option for those with a camera rather than a smartphone is to use a low-powered flash and a diffuser to obtain the same backlit effect during golden hour. 

For those with a DSLR, golden hour photography is all about choosing the right settings which help you play with light and produce creative and dynamic photos. Our recommendations include:

  • shooting in manual mode to be able to adjust exposure freely and make the best use of backlighting. 
  • shooting in semi-manual modes such as aperture priority mode, is an excellent way to be playful and get dreamy photos of flowers

Semi-manual modes save time especially for beginners because you don’t have to familiarise yourself with an overwhelming set of settings or tweak multiple options before capturing a photo. 

You still get to exercise control over how the photo comes out. It’s a great setting to use when lighting is inconsistent and when the subject is static. As far as floral photography techniques go, if you want to find your signature style of capturing images, semi-manual modes should be your preference.

Not All That is Gold Glitters

Natural light in photography can take many forms. It doesn’t solely have to be about capitalising on the golden hour. A cloudy midday can be just as fruitful when taking impactful pictures of flora. 

An experienced photographer sees the potential in golden hour conditions but does their best to enhance its magic and captivating qualities through flower photography tips, much like the ones we’ve shared with you in this piece. 

To do the beauty of flowers justice, patience and attention to detail are a necessary prerequisite. However, practice makes perfect! You’ll realise that the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. 

Whether you're a professional photographer or an amateur enthusiast, let the golden hour be your guide to creating breathtaking flower photographs that will stand the test of time.

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