The start of spring sees trees and hedgerows burst into life with beautiful blossom, and the longer days provide us with even more opportunity to get outside and enjoy capturing this seasonal spectacle on camera. But how do you make the most of these delicate blooms while they last? Whether it’s cherry, hawthorn or some kind of flowering bush, if you’re wondering how to take blossom photos then we’ve got advice for you – read on for our tips!
Chase those cherries
This is one of the times when urban-dwelling photographers are just as lucky as those living in the countryside – cherries and other blossoming trees are frequently chosen by town planners to brighten up inner-city areas, and their petals look fantastic against steel and glass of modern buildings.
Keep a record of cherry trees planted near you and then when the season arrives you’ll be able to rush over, camera in hand. A mirrorless camera’s an ideal choice for travelling light: the Fujifilm X-A3 comes with WiFi for speedy image sharing once you’ve grabbed your shots.
Whatever the weather
Blossom doesn’t last: a night of strong winds or heavy rain can turn those beautiful bloom-covered bushes into denuded sticks. (If your selected subject has been stripped of its petals, try a shot looking down: there might be an opportunity to capture the flowers on the floor…)
No wind and soft, clear morning light are your ideal conditions to get the best from your blossom tree but creative shots can be had in all scenarios: a weather-sealed camera like the Fujifilm X-T2 is a good idea, particularly if you’re heading outdoors during April!
Watch your exposure
Masses of pale blossom petals can make your camera underexpose and come out much darker than you’re expecting, so try different exposure compensation settings until you’re happy with the result. A slightly increased exposure can give you the bright, pure feeling of blossom in full bloom – but it depends on the effect you’re looking for.
Those delicate petals will look best against vivid blue skies, dark green leaves, brick walls – anything where their natural beauty can shine. This is why the deeper skies of early morning and dusk can give you the intensity of colour you’re looking for, but if you’re 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’ve found a tree that’s 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 you want to add people to the frame for human interest and scale (particularly effective if you’ve found a whole hillside covered in blossoming trees) or keep the tree solo? It’s up to you, and your creative vision.
Don’t just shoot stills
Short films of cherry blossoms moving in the breeze can be extremely beautiful to watch, so don’t limit yourself to still photos only – 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 an extremely sensible choice to make the most of these short-lived subjects.