Capturing the Wind – Dancing Flowers

Mar 5, 2017 | Photography |

This photographer shows us how to create images with dancing flowers, using simple photography techniques.

In my last year of University one of my tutors presented me with the challenge of capturing the wind. This was not for the course I was studying but rather a way to push my own boundaries of landscape photography. At the time, I had simple ideas: windmills, flags, cloud movement, etc. Little did I know I’d find success with dancing flowers.

Whilst trying to figure out a subject/technique I came across a common denominator: using slow shutter speeds for each of my test shots. This means setting up your camera on a tripod and using shutter speeds of 1 second and slower. By using a tripod, you take away any possibility of camera shake resulting in sharp and clear images. Using slower shutter speeds allow you to capture the effects of the wind in an “arty” way.

Dancing flowers by Jack Boothby

Capturing the Wind

It was not until a year later, this year in fact, that I managed to capture a real idea I was  passionate about. The question, “How do you capture the wind,” has stuck with me even after leaving University. I feel you can capture the wind in many different ways with modern day photography but the main thing is to capture something you are passionate about, otherwise what is the point? For myself, my subject is flowers – something I have loved shooting ever since getting my first camera and running around the garden snapping all the bright and colourful blooms. I decided to combine my love of flowers with landscapes and attempt to capture the wind in a creative way.

First Steps

The first step for me was to head to the coast where most of the time you will have an offshore breeze. I packed my bags into my campervan (Casper) and headed for Dorset and the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Within a two-week period, I adventured around the coastline of the British Isles exploring with my camera and found amazing flowers and stunning backdrops. My main aim was to capture different flowers to get a contrast in my final collection.

Consequently, the project was a massive success and I am happy to share two of the photographs of dancing flowers I took whilst away. Included with the images are the settings I used to take them so you can try it at home!

Set Up

It is very simple and easy to do – it just takes practice. Dive in and take loads of pictures and perfect your own images of dancing flowers. First things first. Get your equipment together and get out on an adventure to find some flowers! I start by attaching my camera to a sturdy tripod. As previously stated, this is very important to creating sharp, crisp images. Once your tripod is ready, set up your framing of the flowers and the landscape and then start to work on settings.

Shutter Speed and Fstop

To use slower shutter speeds in daylight you need to use the lowest ISO number you have on your camera. Most cameras will have 100/200 ISO that will be perfect. Also make sure you are using a higher F/stop number (F/stop 11 is normally a safe bet). By using a higher F/stop you are creating a smaller hole in your lens which means you need more light to pass through to get a well exposed image.

Settings for creating dancing flowers

Furthermore, you can use a longer shutter speed which will allow exact light through. After working with your ISO and aperture, a great piece of equipment to have with you is a radiant filter. This black filter lets even less light through so on a sunny day you can capture 5-second shutter speeds!

Working with all these numbers can be pretty daunting but the main thing is to just practice and if you get it wrong the first time, don’t quit. While you keep  working with different F/stops and shutter speeds you’ll soon learn what works for you!

All the images in my Dancing Flower set were taken using a 10-stop natural density filter, which I highly recommend. The common rule of thumb for attaching a 10-stop natural density filter is to set up your camera using the settings on the right and once you have the right exposure use the table below to figure out what your new shutter speed should be after applying the filter to your lens.

My Equipment

Nikon D750; Sigma 18-250mm Lens; Velbon Tripod; SRB ND1000 Filter

About the Author

Jack Boothby is a BA (Hons) Photographer from the North East of England. He has had a major crush on photography ever since he was given his first disposable camera during Scout camp. Jack aims to capture perspectives no one has seen before. His goal is to push his photography to the next level and start creating content for people to learn and enjoy. Visit Jack’s website to see more of his work and follow him on Instagram.

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