Photographing Tulips

The bright, vibrant colours of tulips are always a delight to photograph, but adding a variety of perspectives can really showcase the beauty of these flowers.

When I was walking the streets of downtown Toronto, I unexpectedly found a couple of beds of tulips hidden away behind a building. It was overcast, dark, and drizzling all morning long so the flowers themselves weren’t open, but the row of flowers were still really inviting to photograph.

At the time of my walk, I only had with me my Z 70-200mm f/2.8 lens so I captured some overall images of the tulips with this lens, trying to get as close as I could to the flowers.

Noticing the raindrops on the petals of the tulips I wanted to accentuate these textures as best as I could given that I only had this lens. I found photo-worthy tulips within the bed and then looked for creative compositions to highlight the beauty of that one flower.

To give a sense of depth and knowing that there was no way of capturing this tulip by itself, I had some tulips in the foreground placed directly in front of my lens, while focusing on the one tulip in the distance to create a little more of an interesting photo.

The Next Day

Knowing the next day would present the exact same weather condition, I went back to the same location—this time armed with my Z 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. With this lens I’m able to get closer to the tulips to really capture the essence of these flowers, even in the rain. With the macro lens, I really went right into the bed of flowers to capture the raindrops on the petals.

If you look closely, the raindrops magnify the texture of the petal, allowing us to see the individual fibres. I found this session a lot more interesting to photograph since the macro lens allowed me to highlight the uniqueness of the moment: the raindrops on the flower.

Photographing tulips on a sunny day can make for wonderful photos as well, but when we introduce something that we normally don’t associate with these flowers, photographing this combination really makes for unique imagery.

Colour gradients

Tulips come in a variety of colours and that’s what makes them so inviting to photograph. While this particular bed of tulips didn’t have an extensive amount of colours, I noticed some of them had wonderful gradients of red-orange-yellow mixed on the petals. I filled the frame with these colours allowing me to appreciate the colours of this one tulip.

Parts of a tulip


While the colours may be taking all of our attention, I tried to see if I could capture the stem of the flower in any interesting fashion. Just photographing the stem itself wasn’t particularly interesting to me, so I extended my shutter speed to create an intentional camera movement (ICM) photo out of it. This slightly blurs the details but still maintains the shape and shadows, so we can understand what it is we’re looking at.


I found some flowers open—or trying to open—amongst the rain. To capture this creatively, I tried to focus on the stigma that I saw peaking through the petals.


Alternatively I tried to focus on the petals, keeping the stigma blurred, so it looks like a gaping hole in the middle.

The next time it rains, don’t hide in the comfort of your own home. Go out and see if you can photograph the water droplets on tulips or other flowers. You don’t need a macro lens to be able to photograph the droplets, as shown here, so have fun and experiment with composition and you just might end up with some beautiful portraits of flowers that you’ll be proud of.

Do you like macro photography? Do you have any tips on photographing tulips or flowers in general? Let me know in the comments!

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