April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring photographers out by the score. Few things rival flowers (save, perhaps, babies and pets) for the title of most common photo subject. The reason for this is simple: Flowers are beautiful, accessible and can be found everywhere.
Missouri has more than 2,000 native flowering plants. Of these, as many as 1,500 different species would be recognized as a flower by the layman. These flowers range in color from red to blue, white to purple and many colors in between. They range in size from less than an inch, to several feet tall. Some of these flowers can be found throughout the state, while others have specialized habitat needs and only appear in isolated locations. So, if you want to see a specific flower, you might need to travel to a specific place, but if you are not picky about your species, you can find wildflowers almost anywhere.
Where to Look
One common place to see wildflowers is along our roadsides, where plenty of sun allows for good growth of sunloving species. Another good place to see wildflowers is on a nature trail. There are countless trails at conservation areas, national forests, state and local parks and other natural areas throughout the state. In forested areas, the best wildflower viewing is in early spring before the trees leaf out and shade the forest floor.
Opportunities to see and photograph wildflowers abound; all you have to do is hop in your car, put on your hiking boots or simply stroll out into your backyard. Even a lawn weed, like dandelion, can be a great subject for photography.
Specialized equipment is not necessary to take rewarding photos of flowers. A decent point and shoot camera can get the job done, or if you want to take it a bit further, a basic SLR camera with a normal to medium-telephoto lens and a tripod are all you need to take good wildflower photos.
The more advanced photographer may want to add a good macro lens for close-up photos of individual blooms or petals, and some reflectors or strobes to better manage lighting conditions. The best lighting control, however, is an overcast day. By minimizing harsh shadows and highlights, cloud cover creates a soft, pleasing light that saturates colors.
The key is that flowers can be found everywhere, their beauty is universally admired and they won’t run away. So they make the perfect photo subject for amateur and professional alike. Perhaps the photos in this article will inspire you to venture out and create some of your own stunning images. Or, at least, to venture out and enjoy the visual spectacle of the flowers that surround us. Brochures and guidebooks on MDC hiking trails and wildflowers, such as Missouri Wildflowers by Edgar Denison, are available at nature centers and MDC offices throughout the state, and online at www.mdcNatureShop.com