A Solution to a Common Problem when Photographing Landscapes with WildflowersJul 27, 2021
It's no secret that wildflowers and summer are a perfect pair. There's an infusion of colour and delicacy into any landscape setting when wildflowers are included in the frame. Since the wildflower season is short here in the Canadian Rockies, I know that I'll want to make the most of the peak flower times; however, like most opportunities within landscape photography, there is a good time to photograph images with wildflowers and a time when your vision isn't ideal.
In most landscape scenes, the wind is a pesky element that can present significant challenges for the landscape photographer. This is certainly true for landscape settings where the intention is to incorporate wildflowers within a composition.
Wind not only distorts the natural appearance of flowers but can wreak havoc on techniques like focus bracketing and result in loss of sharpness with the inherent slower shutter speeds often used in landscape photography. Since I'm a stickler for focus, I'm always a bit disappointed when I discover motion blur in my images due to wind.
However, over the years, I've learned to embrace all the types of weather conditions we landscape photographers have to endure. Sometimes weather trumps vision for a landscape scene, and I've grown to adapt my preferred style of photography rather than miss out on capturing an image due to less than ideal conditions.
Take, for example, the image below. Pink paintbrush flowers are rare in the mountain areas I frequent, so you can imagine my excitement when I spotted a beautiful patch roadside. With a thunderstorm fast approaching, I pulled my truck curbside, hopped out, camera and tripod in hand and hastily captured this image.
ISO 400, 27mm, f10, 1/125sec
Wind and wildflowers don't play nicely together, but despite this fact, it is still possible to capture a sharp wildflower image when it's blustery.
Here's the solution: Use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze motion.
Since shutter speed controls movement in an image, dialling a faster than usual shutter speed will help freeze windswept flowers. However, keep in mind that a faster shutter speed will require refinements in your aperture choice and ISO. When increasing the shutter speed in your exposure, try using a wider aperture to allow for more light entry into the camera. Also, consider bumping up your ISO a touch. This way, you'll still achieve a well-exposed landscape capture.
Don't miss out on capturing a beautiful landscape setting filled with wildflowers when it is windy; instead, use a faster shutter speed to freeze the movement the wind is creating. Beauty occurs in all types of weather. There's no need to let the elements of weather limit you!