Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday, 25 November 2013

Photographing flowers and using clouds as a natural diffuser

I am taking a break today from blogging about our recent trip through South Australia. For those who are enjoying it, don't worry, I will be back.  Here is a link to the last post if you missed it - and you can scroll down to the complete list so far - South Australia Part 5 - Woomera, Coober Pedy & the Painted Desert

Yesterday I spent most of the day in my garden - my early summer flowers are starting to burst from their cups and it was a brilliant day for working in the garden as there was a light cloud cover, and in fact at one point it started to rain!

I have been so busy that it has been a while since I photographed flowers around my garden. I was grateful that the clouds were shading me as I worked and the overcast day got me thinking about how clouds act as a really great huge natural diffuser of the sun's light. This is perfect for photographing flowers as it balances, softens and evens out the light and you won't have blown out highlights, washed out colors, and harsh shadows. The diffused light will also help the colours of the flowers stand out. 

 So I took a break from my work for a while and got my camera out. 

Please click on "read more" to keep reading and see more pics! .........

I used my Macro lens - but if you don't have a macro lens don't be deterred - a screw on "close up filter" will work wonders! Take a look at my previous post about this - How to take great flower photos
Using "Manual" settings I set "White Balance" to cloud, the "ISO" to 640 to let in more light (though I probably could have tried a setting lower like 400, I know the 640 will help in low light situations), and my "Aperture" to F5.6 (to let in more light and to nicely blur the background and keep the flowers as the main focus). The only thing now that would be variable would be the "Shutter Speed" which I adjusted for each shot to ensure a evenly "exposed" shot.

There is very little or no post-processing in these pics - so you can see cloud cover really does work! 
I love my summer garden - such happy Christmassy colours - red, yellows, pinks, purples. 
You can see here my red day lily, roses (with rain drops), the red coral bush (a brilliant riot of cascading colour), pelagoniums, nasturtiums , and petunias.  Don't you think the rain drops make a lovely touch to the images.....

My agapanthus are starting to bloom. This year we have a white one for the first time, I think the seed might have come from a neighbour down the street. In the bottom left image the red background is the red coral bush.  

These yellow daisies make a brilliant border. All I have to do is trim them back every year, and next year they repeat the performance. The bees were enjoying them too. You have to be quick though as they dart from flower to flower.

The pink of the hydrangea is lovely.... the second left photo is a beautiful new lavender plant that my son and his family bought me for my birthday. 

I also have some natives - green and yellow kangaroo paws, red bottlebrush, the New Zealand Christmas bush (lower left), and the Wax flower which has been flowering for months.

Our grape vine is loaded with grapes, the parsley has gone to seed, the apricot tree is fruiting (we have netted it to keep the birds out), and the tomatoes are just starting to flower (they are a bit behind last year as we planted them later).

 And don't discard dead flowers as not photogenic! I love the textures of these Bird of Paradise heads. 

 So as you can see if you tend to leave your camera in the cupboard on an overcast day - think again. Clouds act as a wonderful natural diffuser, limiting harsh shadows and balancing and distributing the light evenly. Bright sunlight can wash out the colours of flowers, and create harsh blown out highlights and shadows. Whilst overcast days diminish contrast and can bring out detail which can be buried in the shadows.
Another solution is photographing early morning or later in the day.

This is true for portraits too - and you won't have your subjects squinting in the sun. And I know I was battling with the summer sun for this food shot until the sun obligingly went behind a cloud for a few minutes......

This light can however sometimes be considered as flat -  whereas side, dappled and backlighting can create great images - it really depends on the outcome you are wanting to achieve.
I really love the backlighting in the images below of the yellow daisy and the lavender. 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this post and it will encourage you to get your camera out on a cloudy day.
Have a wonderful week. I look forward to hearing from you. 

You might also enjoy - (please click on the links)


I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, What's It Wednesday, and Oh the Places I've Been. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
What's It Wednesday
 Oh The Places I've Been


  1. Exquisite pictures!!! Many take the breath away!! Have a wonderful week!

  2. It is so nice to see your gorgeous flowers. My garden is under its' winter blanket. Wishing you a blessed week. Jen

  3. Stunning photos and thanks for the tips. I figured out how well photos can be on cloudy days quite by accident.

  4. Beautiful flowers to be found in your garden. Your photos really show them off well. Thanks for the tips on shooting on cloudy days!

  5. Beautiful are your flowers photos!
    Greetings from Holland.

  6. Oh wow Jill, your flowers are looking absolutely stunning. In fact you make me want to give up gardening all together - oh let's make that photography too! Stunning. This has to be flower porn in the nicest possible sense ;) Your tips are super helpful, and I am so looking forward to the day you run a photography workshop. Beam me in Scotty!

  7. Jill, your flowers are just beautiful. I can just imagine what your garden looks like, heavenly. Gorgeous images! Have a happy week!

  8. Beautiful shot of the purple agapanthus!! I have a macro lens and also the screw-on kind, and both work great. These are absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing them!

  9. Wonderful pictures. Thanks for the tutorial about back lighting.

  10. Those flowers are stunning!

  11. Truly, you got spectacular captures of the sweets flowers and colors looking so much pretty.
    Nice post, Jill!!!

  12. Gorgeous colors and photos as always! :-)

  13. As we enter winter, its great to see flowerd!! Boom & gary of the Vermilon River.

  14. Hi Jill, Happy Tuesday to you~ I can't wait until this time next week, for my vacation journey images will finally be complete...I long to share other things. The flowers are just magnificent and I so miss seeing them, their lovely faces. The salad fixings look yummy and I have to have sliced radishes in every salad I make, or it is not complete. Happy week to you~

  15. Thank you Jill for kindly sharing these photography tip with us ... I've jotted them down and now can't wait for the next cloudy day to try it out .... I just love photography and how it lights up my life.
    Your oics are a delight.

    " Adelaide and Beyond"

  16. Jill your photography is amazing. Beautiful garden

  17. thank you dear readers for stopping by. I cm glad you have enjoyed seeing my summer flowers. I really love hearing from you, and will try to answer you all. Have a wonderful weekend.

  18. Gorgeous pics. Just stunning. Thanks for the tips. I will be back for more study.

  19. It's fascinating to think you are going into summer with our winter just starting...I love cloudy days for landscape and flower photography, it's the perfect diffuser, nice images

  20. Your photos are fabulous and your flowers are so beautiful!...Christine

  21. Beautiful collection of the sweet flowers! such nice captures..


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