Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of photo tips by F.M. Kearney on thinking outside of the box when photographing flowers. See all of F.M.’s articles in this series »
As exposed surface temperatures cool, atmospheric moisture condenses in the form of water droplets. These droplets, commonly referred to as dew, can form on grass, leaves, railings and even car roofs in the early morning hours. However, it’s the formation of dew on flowers that can turn a generic image into something quite stunning. But, there are a few problems here. Unless you plan on getting up at the crack of dawn, you’ll probably never get a chance to photograph it. Even if you are an early riser it still doesn’t guarantee you will capture that perfect dew-covered flower image. Dew quickly evaporates as the ambient temperature rises—not leaving you with much time before your subjects begin to dry their “tears.” Also, I can only remember a handful of times when the dew appeared exactly where I wanted it, and the droplets were large enough to be clearly seen in the picture.
To get around these issues, I simply carry my own “dew” with me whenever I plan a flower shoot. A small atomizer (water bottle with a spray pump) is a standard accessory in my camera bag. Just under 7 inches tall and weighing only 6 ounces when full, it’s one of my smallest pieces of equipment and can easily be carried anywhere. Although this tiny amount of water may not seem like much, a little goes a very long way. Just a couple of squirts is all it takes to add a few eye-catching water droplets on the petal of a flower. I think a few drops look more natural than a completely dew-soaked flower, but, of course, it all basically boils down to individual preference. On sunny days, however, I do try to completely coat anything in the background. The limited depth of field will render dew-covered grass or flowers as a field of glistening highlights. If I ever run out of water, I can just refill it at a fountain or with my regular water bottle.
The purple glory bush was photographed very early in the morning—the time when dew should naturally be found on flowers. But, what should be expected and what you actually encounter are often two entirely different things. The flower was bone-dry. Just a couple of carefully placed squirts and I was able to add a bit more excitement to this image.
An atomizer can do wonders for flower portraits. So, feel free to sleep in and get that early morning look all day long.