How to create a dynamic flower photo composition

Photographer Dina Belenko shows us how to add dynamism to a static flower photo using some simple but highly effective techniques.

There are two sorts of objects which always look good in photos: sweets and flowers. They are the easiest objects to shoot, but that means you need to be a bit more creative to avoid your photos becoming characterless and uninteresting. In this article, I’m going to show you a very simple way to add some oomph to your flower photos.

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A timelapse video showing the creation of the long exposure flower image. How it works

We are going to shoot two scenes: one with a well-lit static flower and another with colourful trails of the flower in motion, and later we’ll combine them during post-processing.

Sure, there are ways to accomplish all that in one shot, but I have two arguments for doing it this way:

You don’t need an impulse light source. In fact, you can use any light you have, even daylight from a window will do. It gives you perfect control over the position of the colourful flares.

Usually I’m all for doing everything in-camera, leaving only tiny details to post-processing but I also like to choose my battles. And if something is easier and quicker in post, let’s do it in post.

Gathering props

The list of props is extremely short and simple:

Your choice of flower (choose something not too fragile) A black flag (a piece of black cardboard) A stationery clamp or a piece of floral foam to fix the flower steady A source of continuous light (I’m using a torch with warm light) Any camera with shutter speed control (yes, you can even do it with your phone too!).

That’s all! Let’s go to our first scene.

Dina’s props for the shoot The static flower

First of all, we need to get a beautiful shot of a flower on a dark background. You can use any lighting scheme you want, but I’d like to recommend something very simple that I’ve learned from glass photography.

Fix your flower steady with a stationery clamp or a piece of floral foam—anything that can keep the flower vertical will do the job. After that, set your light source as a backlight. It can be a softbox or even a window with some diffusing cloth in front of it. Then, add a black flag (a sheet of black cardboard) between the flower and your light source. The sheet should be wide enough to cover the area right behind the flower, so it can serve as a dark background, but also narrow enough to keep the edges of your light source visible. In my case, the black flag holds steady on an L-shaped console, but you could just attach a piece of black paper to your diffuser with an adhesive tape.

This creates a glowing outline which looks really beautiful! I love this light scheme, it gives the flower contrast and quite a vibrant look.

Static flower lighting set up

As a light source here I’m using a small stripbox with a speedlight, just because it’s my go-to setup and there’s no difference in using continuous or impulse light in this scene. I’m planning to use a

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