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I typically don’t photograph flowers on bright, sunny days when the sun is high in the sky. The difference in contrast between shadow and highlight areas is too pronounced and overall, colors tend to be washed out. Not good times.

"Limelight" (Cranesbill, 'Rozanne' aka, Hardy Geranium), Nikon D300, 460mm (200-400mm w/1.4x teleconverter), F/8, 1/200s, -0.7EV, ISO 320

“Limelight” (Cranesbill, ‘Rozanne’ aka, Hardy Geranium), Nikon D300, 460mm (200-400mm w/1.4x teleconverter), F/8, 1/200s, -0.7EV, ISO 320

However, some really cool effects can be had when, what could be called “harsh top light”, is used to illuminate petals that are photographed from behind. 

Take this Cranesbill blossom. I photographed the flowers from this very same plant a little over a month ago (Crayola part deux) and the two images couldn’t be more different.

If you didn’t know, this bloom could be one of many flower varieties, as we generally don’t see them photographed this way. Here, the focus is on negative versus positive space and the play of light between the two. It’s tricky to pull off successfully and, in order to do so, you have to pay even closer attention to the 5 design elements of good composition: line, shape, pattern, texture and color. (A little luck doesn’t hurt either). 🙂

When it all comes together, the results can be downright illuminating!


  1. Neat! It looks like there’s a little light bulb on the other side of the flower.

    • Thanks! I never really noticed that before! But yes, I see it! 😀

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