How To Use Light To Enhance Your Flower Photos

Light can have a huge impact on the images you take, but especially flowers. Taking images of flowers is a really popular pastime, since flowers are so small, yet they have so much natural beauty.

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They also produce vibrant images, and depending on how close up you can get, you can see every tiny detail that makes up a flower.

When it comes to taking photos of flowers, you need to think about the time of day and whether you need to add any artificial light or diffusers. This will ensure you get the best natural images possible.

In this article, we will discuss how you can use light to enhance your flowers even more. 

Direction Of Light

Where your light is coming from can make a big difference on the final outcome of your image. The direction of the light can either come from in front of the flower, from the side and behind. 

Below we have discussed how these different directions of light can impact your image.

Front Light

The easiest way to explain it is as the light falling on the subject’s front, so in this case a flower, directly from behind the photographer. The subject will be evenly illuminated from the front light. 

Front lighting frequently renders plants or flowers as two-dimensional and flat. It doesn’t emphasize texture, but it might draw attention to imperfections and defects in the subject.

This can be interesting if the imperfections are bold and striking against the delicate flower’s surface.

Side Light

Sidelight shows texture and can make flowers appear three-dimensional and sculptural. Compared to front light, side light provides more nuance and richness.

That three-dimensional impression is produced by the interaction of light and shadow. 

Around sunrise and sunset, when the sun is at its lowest in the sky and creates a lovely warm tone, we get the most side light to use.


Backlight happens when the flower is in front of the photographer and the sun, filling the subject with light and making it glow. Although this type of light is strong, entertaining, and creative to utilize, not all flowers and plants respond well to it. 

Tulips, crocuses, and poppies are excellent flowers for backlight because of their cup-like construction, overlapping petals, and vibrant colors that make the flower glow.

Cacti, succulents, and other plants make exquisite backlit subjects as well.

Intensity Of Natural Light

Not only do you need to think about where your light is coming from, but you also need to think about the intensity of the light as well.

During the day, the intensity of natural light changes, and certain intensities are better at capturing the natural beauty of your flowers. 

Midday Bright Light

Bright sunshine may be harsh and merciless to subjects, producing photos with excessive contrast, burnt-out highlights, and a lack of details in the shadows.

If shooting in the harsh midday sun is your only option, you have a few options. 

You can embrace it and pick subjects, like ferns, that look good in more contrasted light. However, bright and harsh light is a great opportunity to switch to the black and white option on your camera.

You will create black and white images with plenty of contrast and drama. 

On days with intense sunlight, another choice is to work in shady or wooded locations. This is since the trees in these locations can add a soft diffusion to your flower subjects. 

Finally, if you are shooting in harsh midday sunlight, then a diffuser can be your best friend to make this harsh light a lot softer and gentler. 

Bright Overcast Sunlight

A day with a light cloud cover is how this light is usually described. The light that passes through the clouds is softened, hence the clouds act as a gigantic diffuser in the sky.

As a result of how the clouds diffuse the light, there are no strong highlights or dark shadows, making it ideal for photographing flowers. 

Most photographers prefer this type of light as you can get out of the most detail and create really impactful flower images.

Fully Overcast

Many photographers dislike fully overcast light, since the clouds prevent most of the light from coming through. Flowers will lack the slight hint of light that a slightly overcast day provides on completely overcast days. 

When photographing aquatic flowers, overcast light is frequently preferred because it reduces reflections on the water and lily pads. It also darkens the water, and creates saturated, rich colors. 

Using Artificial Light

If you have cut flowers you may decide to use artificial lights such as overhead or light boxes. The same aspects that we have spoken about with natural light apply to artificial light.

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Thus, you need to be careful about where you place the fake light and the intensity that you choose as well.

Since you can manipulate artificial light you can ensure that you create the right balance between light and shadows on your flowers. It is best to play around with artificial light until you reach an end result that you are happy with. 

Light Colors

Light can have a range of tones or colors. The time of day and the climate have an impact on the color temperature of the light.

A numerical scale for grading colors from warm to cool is called color temperature. It is expressed in Kelvin degrees (K). A higher Kelvin number indicates a bluer or cooler tone in the light, whereas a lower reading indicates a warmer or yellower tone.  

At sunrise or sunset, the light is warmer and more golden.

Just before sunrise and after dusk, the light is cooler. You may discover that you favor warmer or cooler tones in your photography depending on the atmosphere or emotion of the scene.

Always Use Reflectors And Diffusers

When photographing flowers, a reflector and diffuser are crucial and affordable instruments.

A reflector is made by zipping more reflective textiles over a diffuser, which is a collapsible disc coated with translucent white material. 

The majority of the time, we wish to take pictures of plants (see also “How To Photograph Plants“) and flowers in gentle, even light. Flowers can be captured in intense sunlight by using a diffuser to soften the light.

We can soften the light to remove the jarring contrast of highlights and shadows by positioning the diffuser between the sun or light source and the flower. 

The diffuser will disperse the light more evenly while also softening it.

You might wish to utilize a diffuser to further soften your light, even in gloomy lighting.

It is important that you always examine your flower carefully to determine whether the lighting is appropriate and whether any blown-out highlights require diffusing.


You can easily use light to improve your flower photos, but it all depends on the type of light that you are using.

Direct light can be too harsh for your flower subject and this will then require you to use a diffuser to soften the light.

Ideally overcast light is the best light for flowers as it helps to define details of the subject but isn’t too harsh either.

Also, the direction of the light can have a big impact on the end result. Depending on the type of flower you are capturing, it may be more suited to back, front or side light.

However, in general side light is the most effective.

We hope this article has helped to make it clear on how you can use light to enhance your flower photos

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use A Light Box For Flower Photography?

If you are taking images of cut flowers, then you could provide additional artificial light to your subject. You could even place the flowers on top of the light box and take images, which should highlight every aspect inside a flower.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Photograph Flowers?

Many photographers believe that either early in the morning or later in the afternoon is the best time to photograph flowers. This is because the light will be less harsh and should have a much softer and warmer tone to it, which photographs well.

However, this also depends on the weather on that particular day as well.

How To Photograph A Blooming Flower?

When you are taking an image of a blooming flower, you want to direct the light on the part of the flower that you wish to focus on. This doesn’t have to be the whole bloom if you don’t want it to be. 

You also need to ensure that there is nothing else in front or too close behind the flower. This is so all the focus on the image is on the blooming flower you have chosen.

Laura McNeill
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