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Tips and techniques

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Bringing the Field Indoors, Story and photos by F.M. Kearney

By February 26, 2015No Comments

March is an interesting time of year. Spring flowers have yet to bloom, and most of the winter snow has melted. It can be slim pickings as far as nature photography is concerned. One option is to bring a little bit of nature indoors. Buy some flowers at a local florist and let your imagination run wild. I don’t have an actual studio, so I used a container to hold the flowers, a few tripods, some flashlights and a mirror.


I attached one flashlight to the handle of a mini-tripod and placed it beneath the center daisy to create a backlight, as well as a nice rim light on the stem. I then attached a red bezel to another light and hand-held it to sidelight the other flowers, taking care not to discolor the one in the middle.

CM_178I did just the opposite for the chrysanthemum. The blue backlight was created by a flashlight set up directly under it and outfitted with a blue bezel. To create definition, I held a white-light flashlight at an angle to produce a strong sidelight. Direct lighting would have flattened everything out.

These types of shots require precise lighting, because a minor change in the angle of light can make a huge difference. Using a remote release is much easier than looking through the camera, because seeing how the light works on your subject and its intensity is more precise with the naked eye than looking at the subject in the viewfinder.

I shot this rose on a mirror that I placed flat on the floor. I placed one flashlight in the rear on the upper left and another in front on the lower right, creating a cross-lighting effect.

I used a cloth in all three shots to produce a simple black background. I obtained the correct exposure by spot-metering a neutral area of the shadows (not the black background).


This just scratches the surface of what can be done indoors. In a full-fledged studio, with more elaborate materials, the possibilities are unlimited.

Shooting flowers indoors definitely has its advantages. There’s no wind to deal with, and being hand-picked out of a display case, all of the subjects are in pristine condition. Also, the commute to the location is just a few steps away. Although I’ve never found myself at a loss for outdoor subjects, a recent family emergency prevented me from getting out into the field as often as I would have liked. These techniques helped to keep me busy.

Perhaps the best thing about indoor shooting is the knowledge that photography doesn’t have to stop due to age or disability. None of us are getting any younger, and lugging heavy camera equipment into the field isn’t becoming easier. Bringing a little bit of the field indoors is a great way to keep the gates of creativity open regardless of physical ability.

F.M. Kearney is a fine-art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit