Tips for Photographing Cape Wildflowers

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Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes flower season as the Cape Wildflowers come into bloom, blanketing the landscape in a patchwork of colours of every hue. In late August and September, from the famous West Coast Flower Route to Kirstenbosch National Gardens and the scattered towns of Worcester, Clanwilliam and Hermanus, the Western Cape becomes a wonderland for nature-lovers and photographers alike. Grab your camera, pack your bags for a road trip, and arm yourself with these photography tips for taking stellar flower photos. 

1. Use a tripod.

A sturdy tripod is a useful piece of equipment for most scenarios, and essential for close-up photography. The most common cause of image blur is the lens’s inability to focus at such a close proximity to the subject. A tripod allows you to use slower shutter speeds to capture more detail, and encourages a meticulous approach to framing and composition. If you don’t have a tripod, use a fast shutter speed of at least 1/200 of a second to capture your subject in crisp detail – you may need to increase your ISO to 200 or 400 to compensate.


READ MORE: Don’t have a tripod? Buy high-quality, second-hand gear from DLPHOTO Shop


2. Avoid high noon or wait for a cloudy day.

Direct sunlight will cast harsh shadows and create bright highlights on wildflowers – a disaster for exposure. Shoot in the early mornings or evenings, or even better wait for an overcast day as the clouds act as the perfect light diffuser, creating the most perfectly balanced light you can get.


READ MORE: Shooting at Golden Hour


3. Isolate your subject and fill the frame.

Long lenses (ranging 70-300mm) will help you isolate a sharp flower against an out-of-focus background, creating a poster-like background for your subject to pop off. Make sure you use one with a short minimum focus distance (1,5 meters or less) to ensure you can fill the frame with the flower. You can use a DIY extension tube to make your lens focus even closer for the smaller flowers.


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4. Consider your perspective.

Think about your point of view. Decide where you want to draw the viewer’s eye and focus on that point. Find the geometrical plane that contains the majority of what you want in sharp focus, and position your camera so the sensor is parallel to this plane. You only get one geometrical plane of completely sharp focus, so proper camera placement is critical.


5. Just add water.

We already mentioned that one of the best times to photograph wild flowers is in the early mornings – and aside from the ideal lighting, you can catch the morning dew still on the wild flowers – an idyllic look that can add interest and vibrancy to your photos. If you can’t manage to get out at that time of day, bring a water spritzer or spray bottle a simple yet effective way to recreate this look. It also helps clean any dusty flowers!


Now that you have these tips to help your photography, all that’s left is to head out and take some photos! Here’s some of our favourite flower hotbeds in the Cape:

  • West Coast Flower Route
    Famous for its endless fields of wildflowers, the West Coast National Park is 100km outside of Cape Town and a must-see destination for photographers and nature-lovers alike during its spring bloom from late August to September.
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
    Nestled under Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch has the advantage of being closer to the Cape Town City Centre and containing a wide variety of flora in bloom all-year-round.
  • Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens
    Just outside the small town of Worcester, the Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens is the perfect place for a spring day excursion to see the Namaqualand daisies and other indigenous plants and flowers.
  • Clanwilliam
    Two and a half hours outside of Cape Town, the sleepy Cederburg town of Clanwilliam is home to the ‘blomkerk’ (flower church) and the annual Clanwilliam Wildflower Show every spring.
  • Hermanus
    Famous for its migrating whales that visit every spring, the coastal village of Hermanus doubles down on the tourist attractions as its Cape wildflowers come into bloom. Visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve to take in the incredible views, and keep an eye out for whales while you’re there.

READ MORE: Our Top Photography Locations in Cape Town