Finding Still Life in Nature

It is spring and this photographers’ thoughts turn to flowers.  After a long dreary winter I always look forward to the spring flower season.  Not only are the flowers so beautiful but they seem to symbolize a renewal of life and faith for me.

Recently I spent 4-1/2 days in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park shooting wildflowers.  Since as the sign above indicates, picking plants are prohibited you have to shoot them where you find them.

The Smokies have over 1500 wildflowers which is more than any other national park.  Photographers descend on the park from all over the world for the opportunity to photograph their amazing diversity.  

I have been to the Smokies in the spring many times before.  Prior to this years’ trip I took some time to review the photographs from my previous visits.  I have been disappointed in the past when I downloaded my images.  I wanted to see if I could determine what I could do to make this years photo expedition a success.

I found that there are two very challenging issues when I shoot wildflowers in the spring.  The first is the background.  The little beauties are coming up through a forest floor littered with dead leaves and twigs.  And, the second is the slightest breeze can throw off your image, especially if you are using a macro lens.  So, before this trip I took some time to really think about how to overcome these obstacles.

The first problem came with a solution that I had not anticipated and was not really looking for.  I happen to admire Tony Sweet and the way he photographs flowers.  If you are not familiar with Tony’s style - check out his website at  Anyway, I happened to stumble upon a you tube video he did as a promo for one of his dvd tutorials on photographing flowers.  The link for the youtube video is here if you wish to check it out -–ehunsA.  You may need to copy and paste the link or you can search you tube for Photography How-To - Flower Photography Artistry with Tony Sweet.  

If you watch the you tube video he is using a printed background to eliminate distractions behind orchids in a greenhouse environment.  Watching that I had an aha moment - thank you Tony!  I went into my texture library and applied a gausian blur to a few of them and printed some small - 4X6, and one larger - 8-1/2 X 11.

This turned out to be a fabulous tip - here are two images I took while photographing the wild columbine.  In the first one you can see just how distracting the background was and I zoomed out so you can also see my printed background placed behind the flower.  The second image shows my final photograph.  The printed backgrounds worked beautifully.

In my next post I will show you how I solved my breeze and bright sunshine issues.

Until then - keep looking for the still moments in your day.

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