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What is the best way to take photos of Exotic plants inside ??


New member
Would like some advice on taking photos of plants inside the house ??

Over recent years we have started collecting 'Orchids' and although i thought these would be very hard too keep and look after infact they have become the easiest plants and the conditions inside the house must suit them as they are just started flowering again in of course stunning colours.

Have never taken any plant images before,so asking for some help from the experts,the camera that i mainly use in the Nikon D3300 with standard lens and 200mm lens,so the lens of choice would be the standard one,the camera would be mounted on a tripod for stability,but of course i cannot take the picture of these plants on the window ledge as the light from the flash would bounce back i guess ?? So should i rig up a temporary setup with say a black non glare backround and use a table lamp as additional lamp and also the camera flash as well ?? And of course i would then place the Orchid plants into the temp setup and then take a few pictures using various settings ??

When taking these type of plant images would one just take a picture/s of the actual blooms close up for maximum colour capture or also include the plant pot in the image as well,or prehaps just get stuck in a give it a try using various different shot scenarios.

One can tell that one is a beginner,its not so much problems with using the camera but my way of thinking is that as all these Orchids are coming into flower at different stages,it would be a great subject for taking some images of these gorgeous looking plants,so combining 2 interests plants and digital photography together.

Any help,advice would be most welcome.Thanks


Well-known member
Given the many variables, some of which are unknown, your question is difficult to answer. I'll try my best to help though; but bear in mind the fact that my take may not be the answer you are looking for. I am not an expert and there are many who have far more knowledge than do I, but I am an avid amateur and I do have some experience in situations such as the one you've described.

Lighting is the simple answer to your question. Then again, lighting is almost always the answer to any question involving photography. Without knowing where your Orchids are located (in your home) or how they are placed in accordance to natural light, I am forced to speak in generalities.

I am assuming that you have your Orchids near windows that allow them to be bathed in sunlight at least part of the day. I know nothing about Orchids, so I don't know how much sunlight they need each day.

For me, the best flower shots almost always include a healthy dose of back-lighting (preferably natural). I like the warmth of natural lighting and I especially like it when the rays of sunshine burst through the flower petals – effectively making the colors POP all that much more.

A bit of front (or side) lighting (diffused, of course) to light up the darker portions of the petal – but not so much as to overpower the back-lighting – helps draw the viewer's eye and creates an almost three dimensional photograph. It's all about shadow and lighting.

There are many methods for diffusing lighting. You can bounce your flash off of the walls or ceiling – if they are lighter colored and won't tint the subject a different color. Even that (color tint) can be corrected by gelling your light source and then correcting the white balance.

You might get away with using your room's lighting – it is certainly worth a try. You might also consider buying a cheap lamp (think of the clamp on type that are often used as heat lamps) and a cheap shower curtain (the cloudy like a milk carton type – without patterns) as a means to diffuse the light from the lamp. You can get both, and a suitable bulb, for less than $12 at Walmart. (That cheap lighting system works very well)

I'd try to get the shots when the back-lighting is diffused and golden in color (late afternoon) but that may mean you'd have to move the plants to a window that faces the setting sun. You can also shoot as the sun is rising – if the plants are near windows that face the rising sun.

I wouldn't use on-camera flash at all. Not the built-in flash anyway. It would likely be too harsh and you'd end up with sections that are blown out.

I would expose the shot for the brightest area that you can find on the subject. I'd make multiple test shots to determine which part of the flower is going to be the brightest and then change my exposure as needed. I'd also shoot in manual so I could control the exposure to my liking.

I'm not sure what your “standard” lens is, but I'm assuming it is the kit lens that came with your camera body. I'm also going to assume that it is a zoom lens and probably 18-55 mm. If your 200mm lens is a prime lens, that would most definitely be a lens that I would use for many of the shots. In fact I would use both lenses and take a variety of shots – different angles, different positions, and different views of the differing subjects.

I would concentrate on filling the frame with the subject but mostly I'd worry about getting the lighting correct and then getting the exposure correct. Mostly I'd shoot the flower itself, but I'd also take shots that include more – if I thought that shot would pop.

The 200mm lens will help make the background melt into a creamy blur while making the subject sharp and in contrast. If your other lens lets you focus up close to the subject, I'd use it to exaggerate the shape of the flower – again making it POP so it draws viewers into the subject.

I'd want vibrant colors and quite a bit of contrast. You can set that up in camera or (if you shoot raw) with software.

Take chances. See what you can create by changing positions, views, and exposures. Look for pictures online that really speak to you. Study them and try to replicate them. It also helps to study paintings (that really speak to you).

You will fail. A lot. So what?

That is how you learn. And a digital camera makes it all but free to learn from your mistakes.

Have fun creating something beautiful.


New member
@Tahts-a-dats-ago,many thanks for your reply and suggestion,only trouble is its can be very hard to try and post exactly what one is trying too achieve,but had been experimenting on a few indoor items and although i finally have a basic idea it was not until i had seen a very short 3 minute video on AOL which i wont post a link as it may break forum rules etc,but in that short video it mentioned in laymans language all the basic information that i was looking for and actually all the basic setup,in the short video it showed how the photographer took a picture of a simple sketch in this case a banana,but he gave vital infor on main lighting,side lighting and a few other tips,and all of sudden after 3 minutes it all fell into place.

As luck would have it almost all my 'Orchids' are in full bloom,so later tonight i plan on taking a few images of the best and most striking colour Orchids and see how they turn out,its great that just a short video and tips and what was once a problem that i did not have any idea on how to achieve is achievable at last.

Will try and post up a few of the result in a few days time if i think they are worthy of posting.
You could always make a light box. A cardboard box with the sides cut out covered in white paper will work. Just google how to make one. Then with just a couple of lamps or flashes you can get pretty good shots.


New member
@Sven,many thanks for that link,really a tremendous help.Thanks again

Kelley (Texas)

New member
you have used a light box to take some pictures? What size light box did you use? What type of lighting? Again, thank you! Kelley (Texas) :)


Well-known member
Kelley (Texas) said:
you have used a light box to take some pictures? What size light box did you use? What type of lighting? Again, thank you! Kelley (Texas) :)

I have the small light box tent like they offered and used the same bulbs they sold-5600K, had tripods and reflectors.

You can get higher wattage bulbs from this place

I just bought four of these about a month ago, they work much better than what I had.

Kelley (Texas)

New member
Sven, thanks for the additional information. I am going to give this type of photography a try. Thanks for sharing! :clapping: Kelley (Texas) :)


New member
I am aware that this is a old post,but just thought i would update on what i am doing.

Still love and use my Nikon D3300 as it does exactly what i want from a camera and more,but what i have done is bought a 50mm f1.8 prime lens,also have a 35mm f1.8 coming as well,this 50mm 1.8 lens is absolutely superb and is exactly what i had been looking for,it allows so much more light in,also works exceptionally well with a full set of auto extension tubes,albeit its not a true dedicated macro lens setup,its not all that far off and without the massive cost of a dedicated lens as well.

So the 50mm 1.8 lens also does for my general all round style of photography as well,when taking shots of my orchids i have also bought a ring flash and also have a external speedlight with a diffusor that is triggered by remote trigger setup from the hotshoe,and this combination is basically what works for me.

35mm 1.8 lens should be here this week,so will try that as well,been going to my local camera club for over a year,so have learnt alot more than if i had been going it alone.Really starting too enjoy my photography these days as sometimes i was getting frustrated that i was not making much headway.Cannot see me upgrading camera wise,as my Nikon is all i need,but the one piece of kit that was the game changer was getting that 'nifty fifty' f1.8 lens,that was the best move that i have done thus far.


New member
Another update on what i have been doing with my macro photography,still got the same camera s before but added a new Tokina 100mm f2.8 lens into the collection,this not only gives me very close high quality macro shot but also i can/could use it as a portrait and short telephoto lens as well which covers almost all my needs.

For lighting i have been using a couple of cheap additional light units that you can pick up very cheaply off Eb@y and also some wireless trigger units so that i can strategically place the flash guns on my item that i am shooting which is mainly my orchids,this setup thus far is all coming together,getting the flashes to fire in sync with the camera was slightly more demanding than i had initially 1st thought but folks from the local camera club have been very helpful with some suggestions.

Looking at another Nikon camera next week as i am looking to keep my current one solely for macro use,the Nikon D500 is the current front runner as it allows me too use all my current lens because its a dx camera.