Flower Photography With Compact Cameras
Here's a quick guide to flower photography with a compact camera.
Compact / point-and-shoot camera
Most compact cameras now feature a macro mode which allows the lens to focus at a smaller distance, allowing you to fill the frame with the flower head. Macro modes also tend to use larger apertures which will mean your subject stays sharp while the background is thrown out of focus. If your camera doesn't have a macro mode use the optical zoom to its maximum to get you closer to the flower head.
Make sure you turn your flash off as it will just create harsh shadows and make sure you've selected the lowest ISO possible to stop noise spoiling your shot. If you do find the shot's a little dark, use a reflector to bounce light into the shadow areas. Try experimenting with different coloured reflectors as they'll create different tones/warmth.
Even though you're not using a DSLR with a heavy lens using a tripod is still advised. It'll help keep your shots shake-free and they also help slow you down and make you think about composition. A tripod where the legs can splay out is ideal as you'll be able to shoot from low angles, getting right into the patches of flowers you have in your garden. If you don't have a tripod try using a Gorillapod which are smaller and are more flexible.
Time of day and weather
Some flower photographers prefer to shoot during the morning but with the warm evenings we've experienced over the last few weeks, you may prefer to shoot after you've eaten your dinner. Overcast days are perfect for flower photographers as clouds naturally diffuse light and your shot will be more evenly exposed. It'll also help if it's not a windy day as even the smallest of breezes will blow the flowers and when you're working up close, the blur is more noticeable.
It may seem like an obvious piece of advice but when you're outside, working your way around the flower bed, you can get carried away snapping shots so make sure you pause before you hit the shutter button to make sure the flower's in good shape. Try and find a specimen where the background isn't cluttered and if it can contrast your chosen subject even better. As you're working with a compact camera putting more distance between the flower and the background will make it easier for the camera to throw the background out of focus. Once you've chosen your subject take a test shot to make sure it's as sharp as possible. Check the image on your LCD screen, zooming in to double-check the petals are in focus.
For a shot that's more pleasing to the eye offset the stamen slightly and try, as you do with a portrait, positioning yourself so the flower sits slightly to the side. For a more abstract shot, fill the frame with one or a few of the petals, making the shapes and colours the focus of the image.