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Creating dark backgrounds for outdoor flower photography

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It’s springtime, and that means the flowers are starting to bloom! Flower photography can be a fun way to create art for your walls, or simply to enjoy the act of creating beautiful photographs.

One thing to consider when photographing flowers is that your background has a higher chance of being too busy, especially when photographing outdoors. In this article, I review some simple setups to create beautiful flower photography with dark backgrounds.

Use a small gray or black card

I oftentimes carry a small dark gray or black piece of cardboard in my camera bag to give my images a simple dark background. This works well for macro images, flowers, and more. A photography gray card is a good fit for this. I use an 8×10 card and it fits into the laptop or tablet section of my camera bag nicely.

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Adding the dark backdrop is simple. Hold the card behind the flower or subject you are photographing while pressing the shutter. If your lens is too long to get the shot while also holding the card, you might need to prop it up somehow (or have a friend hold it for you). Or, position your camera on a tripod and hold the card, then use a cable release to create the shot.

Behind the scenes
A behind-the-scenes of holding a gray card to get a clean background for outdoor flower photography.

Optional: Add texture to the flower photography in post-processing

Once you have a simple backdrop added, you now have a better background to “absorb” textures! It’s best to use a gray backdrop if you want to add this effect in post-processing (if the background is too dark, the texture will not be visible).

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