As wonderful as winter can be for photographers, with its opportunities to shoot frosty macro scenes and photograph beautiful snowy landscapes, our favourite time of year to take pictures is spring. The warmer weather, the bursts of colour and landscape springing back to life always make it an inspiring time of year to be a photographer. In this tutorial we’ll share some of our best spring photography tips to help you make the most of your ventures out with your camera.
01 Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes we think we have to have all the answers before we go take pictures somewhere, but often you can learn a lot – and get better pictures – simply by asking someone for guidance. What we mean is, if you’re shooting in a new location, ask someone who works or lives there if they know the best places to take photos.
If you’re at a National Trust site, for instance, ask one of the staff members where you might find the most spring flowers. Or ask a local in a new town which woodlands are known for their bluebell display.
It’s worthwhile asking these questions well in advance, too. Then you can make return visits and keep track of developing foliage and time your return for when the blooms finally emerge.
02 Shoot early in the day
This is good advice any time of the year, but it’s especially true in springtime when dew and mist leave a nice reflective blanket of colour over everything. This can add ambience and an extra layer of interest to a scene that an image captured in the middle of the day simply won’t have.
But be quick! This time of year the dew quickly evaporates.
Spring photography tips: 03 Get down low
While shooting from unusual viewpoints often always makes for a better image, in this case it’s also more practical. As with everything, you want to fill your frame with your subject and the only way to do that with tiny spring flowers is to get down on their level and get close up.
It’s worth bringing something with you to stay clean and dry as you do this. We like to take a large bin/garbage bag and lay it on the ground where we intend to shoot. It’s lightweight and folds up compactly into your bag – even your coat pocket.
04 Use Adobe RGB colourspace
You want to capture the best colour possible at this time of year, so to give yourself the best chance set your camera so that it records JPEGs in the Adobe RGB colourspace, rather than sRGB. Adobe RGB has a much wider gamut than sRGB, which means your camera will be able to record a wider range of hues and tones.
Of course, if you’re shooting raw files this isn’t an issue. With raw files you don’t set the colourspace until you convert your image into a universal file format like JPEG or TIFF.
05 Make your own background
As photographers, we often fret over backgrounds and can be seen pacing a scene endlessly until we find that perfect angle where all our background distractions are conveniently out of the frame. But with spring photography you often have more control over these things than you do in other genres and at other times of the year.
Sometimes the most attractive flowers are found growing in unattractive locations, but you can take control of this situation! A coloured piece of fabric or card rolls up nicely and fits conveniently into your camera bag.
In these situations you can simply position this makeshift background behind your subject and make an instant improvement to your image.
Remember to bring some clips, or even tape, to hold your background in place if need be.
06 Shoot directly into the light
Backlighting gives flowers and leaves a distinctly beautiful appeal. Their near translucence enhances their colour and delicate structure as the light streams through them, and if you can manage the correct exposure this can make for very powerful images.
Try increasing you exposure so that your subject is bright. Then, see if you can frame the sun behind another element in your frame to keep the contrast at bay.
07 Use your Landscape mode
If you’re shooting JPEGs and find that your images look a bit flat, or lack the punch that you’re seeing with your own eyes, it might be worth asking your camera for a little help.
Your camera’s scene modes are typically very good at enhancing the elements you want more of, and setting your camera to its Landscape mode should give your spring images that much-needed vibrancy.
Scene modes have different names by camera type and make, but usually you can tell by the name or little icon what it’s best suited to capture. Typically, this scene mode will boost your blues and greens to enhance the natural colours of a spring landscape.
08 Shoot macro and woodland images when it’s overcast
Never waste a day. That’s our motto, anyway. We’re all busy, and who knows when you’ll next get to venture out with your camera. So if the day you’ve set aside for photography is marred by overcast skies, don’t let that put you off!
The flat, even light of overcast days may not be idea for shooting vivid vistas, but it’s perfect for woodlands and close-up images of emerging growth!
The low contrast of an overcast day means your exposures should be very straightforward, and you won’t have to worry about fighting for detail in deep shadows or harsh highlights.
09 Put up a windbreak
Along with your makeshift background, it’s also worth bringing a DIY windbreak. Spring flowers are delicate and can shift even in the slightest breeze. You may not notice it on your camera back, but when blown up you’ll notice that they’re ever so soft.
A simple DIY windbreak, such as a piece of card (I’ve even used 3-ring binders) can give you enough protection from the wind to keep your subject still and ensure a pin-sharp shot.10 Use a diffuser
As well as a windbreak, it’s also worth bringing a diffuser along on your shoots. You can use anything from a light tent to a used milk carton as a diffuser, which on sunny days helps to soften the light and avoid burning out your highlights.
11 Thoroughly inspect your frame
It’s easy to get caught in the moment and not notice a small piece of litter, an unattractive twig or a dried up leaf encroaching into your shot. Get into the habit of inspecting your scene before you press the shutter button to remove any unwanted elements.