Hello all! It’s SPRING, which means we are in the thick of wildflower season and time for bluebonnets photos in Austin, Texas. Since a lot has changed in the past month, and since many spring sessions have been postponed and even cancelled, I wanted to share my top five tips on how to take your best bluebonnet or wildflower photos!
First up – my gear. I use a Nikon d750, 85mm sigma art lens for outdoor portraits. A 50mm would do or even 35mm, but I LOVE the bokeh (blurry and sparkly background) that my 85 will make. It’s magical! Also, portrait mode on your mobile phone works wonders if you are just using your phone camera!
Location – Try and find a field or area that is shootable from the east and west! If you are looking for a spot and it’s not the ideal time of day, use the compass app on your phone! You want the sun to be at the east or west!
Light – I love and prefer evening light. But morning light works too! Avoid shooting mid day. In my opinion, the best time to shoot is up to two hours after sunrise, and two hours before sunset (but this can also depend on location=)! At this particular location, I’m actually shooting about 1.5 hours before sunset, because of elevation. (It’s a hilly neighborhood!) If you are in a flat wide open area, you may have to shoot later to sunset, or closer to sunrise. If you are down in a lower elevation or there are hills around, you will likely have to shoot earlier than 2 hours before sunset, and will have a little more wiggle room with sunrise. I like to find a field or location a really pretty tall tree line, that the sun sets (or rises) behind, and provides open shade from it. I shoot backlit, meaning the sun is behind my subjects.
As you can see from these photos, the sun is setting behind the trees, but plenty of light is coming through, and wrapping around my subjects, providing the even light that you see (i. e. no shadows)!
It’s all about that angle! If you haven’t found a full field of flowers…don’t sweat it! You don’t have to find the “perfect patch.” Even a small patch work – but, you to have to work it. It’s possible to take something like this…
and turn it into this…
I mean it! You need to squat or kneel down, and get down at your kids’ or subject’s level, with your camera about one to two feet off the ground! Sometimes just above the height of the bluebonnets. This makes the flowers look full when they are directly in front of the camera. My legs are SO sore every year after doing evening of bluebonnet or wildflower sessions! But it’s totally worth it! Sometimes with toddlers I use a small stool or chair, (a lot of times they just want to run wild=), and I also use a blanket, and place it usually behind a good bunch of flowers, have my subject sit there, then the flowers will be in front of my subject! Always look out for snakes, ant beds, bugs, and anything else you may not want to get too close to!=) For the record, I’ve never seen snakes at any of the patches I’ve photographed, but, there’s a first time for everything and I know they can be out there!
Settings and editing – If you are using a DLSR, and shooting in manual mode, my settings are usually at f2.5-2.8, SS250 and ISO around 200, but that will vary lighting. If you use auto mode, make sure the flash is OFF. If you are using your phone, use portrait mode setting, tapping the subject to focus. For editing, over the years I created my own presets in Lightroom. I try and get all of my settings correct in camera, adjust exposure, blacks, and warmth as needed. For mobile editing, I use Lightroom mobile or the app PicTapGo, and adjust those same settings in it!
I hope these tips for shooting your own bluebonnet photos in Austin, or wildflower photos was helpful! If you have any additional questions feel free to comment below or send me an email! If you use these tips and find them helpful, please send me your photos! I would love to see and share! You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me when you post on facebook or instagram @rebeccadyanphotography!
I know the bluebonnets in Austin will be on their way out soon, so get out there and get shooting! If not, other flowers in various colors pop up after them all the way until June usually here in Austin, so you have plenty of time!
Happy Spring, and Happy Shooting!