Whether you live in the city or the countryside, spring is a great time of year to grab your camera and head out for a local walk to practice your wildlife photography. One of the best subject matters is blossom, as it can be found in most environments, from urban parks and gardens to hedgerows and woodland verges.
Unlike mammals, birds and insects, you can get right up close to blossom, giving you time to set your focus and composition.
Our guide offers tips for photographing cherry blossom, but the same principles can be applied to apple, hawthorn and blackthorn blossom, found throughout the UK, as well as woodland and meadow flowers.
How to photograph cherry blossom
Find a blossoming tree
Spring is one of those rare times when urban-dwellers benefit just as much as countryside photographers from their outdoor surroundings. Cherries and other blossoming trees are frequently chosen by town planners to brighten up inner-city areas, so keep a record of cherry trees planted near you to be prepared to create some fabulous shots.
Whatever the weather
Blossom does not last. A night of strong winds or heavy rain can turn beautiful bloom-covered bushes into denuded sticks. If your selected subject has been stripped of its petals, try a shot looking down as there might be an opportunity to capture the flowers from an interesting angle on the floor.
Watch your exposure
Masses of pale blossom petals can make your camera underexposed and your images turn out much darker. Try different exposure compensation settings until you are happy with the result. A slightly increased exposure can give you the bright, pure feeling of blossom in full bloom.
Delicate petals will look best against vivid blue skies, dark green leaves, brick walls – anything where their natural beauty is optimised. This is why the deeper skies of early morning and dusk can produce the intensity of colour you are looking for, but if you are stuck shooting in the middle of the day, try hunting out shadows or setting the petals against the sky and shooting into the light for a gorgeous glow.
Capture every angle
Once you have found a tree that is in a suitable spot, spend time studying it. Take a range of images of the blossom both as individual blooms using a shallow depth of field (a wide aperture lens such as the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 is ideal for this) and as a mass. Shoot the tree close-up and fill the frame with colour, then step back and place it within its environment.
Do not just shoot stills
Short films of cherry blossoms moving in the breeze can be extremely artistic – if your camera has a video function then put it to work! Use a tripod to keep your shots stable and try gently pulling your frame through the blossoms so each individual bloom comes in and out of focus – or try slowly panning across the tops of the trees to show how the blossom sits within its environment. The tiny details presented by the blooms means the resolution offered by 4K video will come into its own here – so a camera like the X-T20 would be a sensible choice to make the most of these short-lived subjects.
Tips provided by photography experts at Jessops Academy www.jessops.com.