Introduction: Finding and Photographing Wildflowers the Low-Impact Way

Photography is an art, but so is finding a subject without destroying the local ecology.

I will show you how to find wildflowers and photograph them without harming the environment. These suggestions work anywhere; the pics I will be sharing were taken, literally, in my own back yard.

Step 1: Choose a Camera

There is no pic for this step, as it obviously varies greatly on personal taste, resources, and skill. I do suggest that you keep the following in mind when making your camera choice:

  • Ease of Use...it's nice to have something uncomplicated so you aren't required to lug equipment around on your hike
  • Macro Settings...you'll want to use these most of the time. Practice with them, if possible, before making your purchase and definitely before making any long, once-in-a-lifetime trips
  • Rechargeable Battery...you're reducing waste, and personal experience tells me these keep their charge longer. The square type is best; rechargeable AAs and AAAs don't seem to be any better for holding a charge over time than disposable counterparts

Step 2: Don't Miss the Obvious

Wildflowers grow everywhere; don't neglect to notice those that are right in front of you. I found some growing right next to my front porch, and against the house.

Take a moment to consider letting nature have its way with your yard, and you may not need to plant flowers at all to enjoy a colorful landscape. Native flora has the benefit of being disease- and pest-resistant, as well as requiring less water and little to no fertilizer. Go green by letting Mother Nature do her own gardening!

Step 3: Choose Your Path and Tread Lightly

  • Decide where to go and plan your path.
  • Avoid areas that are eroded; these places are fragile, and even light footsteps damage them further
  • If you literally watch your step, you can easily walk several miles without destroying any plant life.
  • Watch out for the little guys--spiders included!
  • Protect your body and clothing by avoiding sharp things...gently move thorny vines from your path without destroying them or yourself.

Step 4: Take Pics!

Look around, find your subjects, and snap your pics.

  • Be observant; flowers can grow anywhere
  • Get low and close to the object you wish to photograph
  • Take your time to get a good angle and focus properly; use the macro setting for best results
  • Consider shadows, including your own, and bright sunlight
  • Keep a steady hand

Step 5: Don't Neglect Buds and Dried Flowers

New buds are future blooms. Dried petals are evidence of those you've just missed. Plan your next photo-op accordingly!

Step 6: See the Beauty All Around

Don't focus on flowers alone; take in all of the landscape and enjoy the scenery as whole.

Step 7: Take Only Pictures; Leave Only Footprints

Do NOT dig up plants! This is harmful to the individual as well as the population. With fewer individuals, there is less genetic diversity. Transplanted wildflowers are extremely fragile and rarely survive the shock of being moved. Enjoy, but don't destroy.

Littering is obviously a very very bad thing to do, but so is overlooking trash that is already there. Be kind to the earth and pick up others' messes! Even if a place is relatively untrod by man, there is unfortunately sure to be items occasionally introduced by wind or rain runoff. It is helpful to bring a bag specifically for this purpose. It's a pain, but Mother Earth will thank you.

Step 8: Research

You can skip this step if you aren't a total geek, but I like to know what I'm looking at!

The easiest way to identify what you've found is to use a book (with pictures!) or website created for that purpose. I simply googled "Missouri wildflowers" (I'm in Missouri), and the first result was an excellent site. Compare pics in the book or on the site to yours; they're usually organized by color.

Here's what I found, all less than 500 yards from my house:
  • Sheep Sorrel (Oxalis stricta)
  • Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
  • Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea)
  • Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea)
  • Hairy Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)
  • Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)
  • Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)
  • Blackberry (Rubus occidentalis)
  • Common Cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex)

Comments

author
mechanicalanimals (author)2009-03-10

Hey, hippie_mama! (wow, it's weird to be posting for the first time ever)
I really like your photos! I love close-ups of flowers, and I've taken quite a few myself! :)
I especially like native flowers of Canada!
I'm always worried about correctly identifying Queen Anne's Lace, because it looks an aweful lot like hemlock!
Queen Anne's lace has a small purple flower in the dead centre of the plant...
maybe it is there, and just not visible in the photo, or I just can't see it... but for anyone into foraging (responsibly, of course), be careful!

The difference is one between a tasty root and sure death! Hahaha!

author

Thanks for the compliment, and very good point on Queen Anne's Lace vs Hemlock. Besides the small purple flower (which does seem to be missing here), the flowers of QAL are also more closely clustered than in Hemlock. Those are virtually the only visible differences though, and both are subtle enough to be missed on casual observation, (or could even vary between individual plants), so it is important to keep that in mind, and maybe even get a second opinion before consuming any wild plants :)

author
pahillbilly (author)2008-05-07

Great way to go, especially with rediculous gas prices.On the same note, when photographing fall colors don't overlook low trees and shrubs. Sure, maples, etc are beautiful but so are the little guys

author
Haunt (author)2008-05-06

i've been doing this exact thing for years, and i've taken some amazing shots. terrific instructable.

author
hippie_mama (author)Haunt2008-05-07

Thanks! The steps may be obvious and straight-forward, but humans can generally use the reminder to be gentle.

author
laminterious (author)2008-05-05

I like this. Reminding everyone to look around their own house for beauty, to be careful how you walk, pick up trash while you are out there, and how to find out what plants you found. As well as encouraging exercise and getting more familiar with your immediate areas, as well as cleaning it up at the same time. +1 and fav-ed

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