For those of us who enjoy flower photography, remembering that less can be more is an important composition concept. The images in this article were captured during my Olympus Pro Loaner test period back in June 2019, using an M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom lens.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Regardless of the size of the sensor in our camera we often want to achieve good subject separation when photographing flower blossoms. One of the reasons that I originally tested the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom lens is that I have always enjoyed using a longer focal length zoom for flower photography.
Using this type of lens provides a photographer with a lot of composition flexibility. Many of the images in this article were captured shooting the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 lens wide open and at its maximum focal length. This can be challenging for many lenses and allows a photographer to look at the sharpness of the lens.
When trying to create ‘less can be more’ flower compositions the first thing for which I often look are blossoms that provide good shooting angles against backgrounds that are somewhat distant.
It can also be helpful to look for ‘less can be more’ in terms of the dominant colours in a composition. The centre section of the flower in the above image commands a viewers attention because of the tri-colour orientation of the photograph.
The tiny bud in the above image may be an optimal example of a less can be more composition. I actually captured this image as a test of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X single point auto-focusing accuracy.
I wouldn’t typically use an ISO value below a camera’s base, which in the case of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is ISO-200. I purposely did this with the image above as I was using my camera settings in order to achieve a relatively slow shutter speed as an IBIS test. This photograph was captured handheld at 1/25 of a second using a focal length of 150 mm or an equivalent field-of-view of 300 mm.
The flower photographs above and below both take a less can be more approach through the use of smooth, monochromic backgrounds, and a dual colour palette.
For these types of less can be more compositions to work it is important to pay as much attention to the background as to the subject blossom. Any bright areas in the background that create contrast, even if out of focus, can draw a viewer’s eye away from the subject blossom.
Achieving a simple dual colour palette can also help with compositions that incorporate compound blossoms.
Choosing the right focusing point can also help achieve a more can be less composition. In the photograph above very little of the branch is in focus. This draws a reader’s attention to the tip of the branch.
Finding a bright blossom up against very dark backgrounds can create a high contrast ‘less can be more’ type of flower composition. These photographs can be particularly dramatic.
In summary, less can be more flower compositions can be achieved by keeping backgrounds smooth and monochromatic. By finding shooting angles that produce good subject separation. Looking for high contrast opportunities. And, by limiting the number of colours in a composition.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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