Photographing flowers indoors can lead to a blurry photo due to the lack of natural light, or an uninspired snapshot if a direct flash is used. Windows, sinks, refrigerators and china cabinets don’t make for an interesting backdrop either. But the advantage that the indoor flower photographer has is time and access to gear.
Indoor photography requires at least one of the following ingredients: a tripod, a flash, or luck. I use a healthy mix of all three, but for flower photography I try to rely less and less on luck. When I started reading photography forums 10 years ago I read some advice about purchasing tripods. It said if you’re serious about photography you should never buy a tripod that’s under $100 as a cheap tripod will either need to be replaced, or thrown away as the hobby of photography is forgotten about. Like my brothers before me, I had to learn this the hard way. You want a stable tripod and portability should not be a large factor. Maybe it can be worn as a backpack, but it shouldn’t fit in your backpack, and certainly not your pocket. Buying a cheap tripod is like asking your great-grandmother to hold a try of champagne flutes at your wedding. She’d probably do it for free, since she’s your great-grandmother, but it’s best to let the paid, and less shaky, staff handle it.
Besides the tripod, my favorite gear to use for indoor flower photography is a strong hand lamp. A fancy camera store will try and sell you a fancy camera lamp but in all my projects I’ve just used a standard reading lamp. Something like this for only $10 would work just fine.
The lamp light gives the photo a dark and eerie feel, especially when it’s the only light source in the room. It’s like the flower is holding a flashlight to its face and telling horror stories. They have no shortage of horror stories as they were recently decapitated and are now being displayed in a stranger’s home until they decompose enough to no longer be desirable.
In these photos I want the entire photo in focus and crisp. With the limited light this means a very long exposure time (10 – 20 seconds). A tripod is compulsory as is a remote shutter or time delay so the act of clicking the trigger doesn’t add any unwanted shake. This batch of photos was taken using a cheap lamp:
The lamp provides some directional light to a segment of the flower, but sometimes a brighter photo is desired with striking blown-out highlights. In most situation a blown-out section of a photo will ruin the photo, but in the case of flower photography I think it’s nice. It adds a nice bright white highlight to the otherwise colorful mix.