Photographing Flowers with The Bucket Method

0Comments

The following tutorial on how to make and convert a bucket shield to give flowers some protection from the wind and a nice strong background was submitted by our most prolific forum members – JiminyClickit (he’s posted over 1600 messages in our forums.

Are your outdoor shots blurred by wind?
Do you want photos with black backgrounds?
Would you prefer to leave blooms alive?

Flowers-Bucket

With a minimum of cost and effort, you can shield your subject from wind movement, while providing a strong background contrast, and without having to pluck it and set up indoors. By surrounding a bloom, or lower stalk, or tree branch with a suitable bucket device, great photos will be easier to capture without damaging the plant (especially good if it’s not yours).

From simple to more complex, the usefulness of this method will be determined by your individual needs. The size of the container, the material of which it’s made, your choice of holding / mounting it will all play a part in its successful use. Here are a few directions, suggestions and tips to get started.

Some tools you may need:

  • scissors
  • small saw
  • craft knife
  • plastic tape

Some materials you may need:

  • plastic bucket (oval)
  • ¼ inch wing nut
  • ¼ inch bolt, 1” long
  • plastic tape

Bucket

How to Construct Your Bucket:

1. Drill this ¼” hole to attach a tripod. ¼” bolt may be used to attach to other supports.

2. Cut / saw these two slits to hold stem / branch of bloom / flower.

3. Cover slit with tape (both sides) to add grip. Cut tape in center.

Almost anything conical will work. You could form a shape with poster board (like an ice cream cone): hold with one hand, camera in other.

How to Use a Bucket to Photograph Flowers

On a Tripod
The most effective mount is this steady, hands-free attachment to a tripod (old cheap one).

Bucket-Tripod

Notice branch held in place by slit in bucket.

Tripod-Bucket-Flower

Off a Tripod

Off-Tripod

Down and dirty steady shot

Other Mounts

Foldable PVC pipe stand, bucket held with ¼” bolt and wing nut

Bucket-1

Wrist straps allow two-handed control.

Pull at “A” to form neck strap

Bucket-2

A few Results Shots

Results

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • mdwsta4

    ha! i have to admit, that’s a pretty cool and original idea.

  • Very original idea and the results look great 🙂

    I’m not really into this type of photography, so I won’t be recreating it, however as I’ve said; it’s an awesome idea which works really well and those cost you a fortune.

    great job!

  • AC

    It’s a cool idea, but I prefer having a more natural backdrop. As for the wind factor, it’s a matter of patience or having a friend/stranger hold down the stalk gently.

    May just try this thing out though 🙂

  • While it is a great idea and a great solution for a specific problem, I still find more attractive to let in the context of the flower, such as other near flowers, plants, or even landscape or constructions on the background. Movement caused by wind could still be reduced by shooting at faster speeds, with faster lenses.

  • I shoot this sort of stuff a lot, and I love this idea. I’ll be doing some experimentation with it. Thanks for sharing this!

    There is nothing like a black background for flowers. It makes the color pop. With this technique you almost get a product shot on which you can replace the background with anything you like in post-processing.

    I can also see how alternate colors could be used to back the shot; patterns; all sorts of ideas are popping into my head.

  • very nice idea mate! I loved it! cant wait to build one!

  • These remind me of the work of a photographer I saw give a talk here who loved using his scanner to take photos of flowers in dark rooms.

    The flowers would always appear to be growing out of the blackness, similar to these bucket shots.

    I wish I could remember his name, he did some interesting stuff.

  • Tad

    Wonderful! Now, if only I could put some of the people I shoot in buckets, I’ll have it made.

  • Creative, but I don’t really see myself ever doing that!

  • This is ingenious. Excellent for stock photos. You could apply this same concept to other images: insects, fish, inanimate objects like autumn leaves, cookies or anything that can fit in the bucket. Stock photo buyers usually want an image that can be taken off the background. It would be easy enough to have buckets of different colors: white, gray, etc.
    Love it … you’re a genius

  • Jack

    I have never seen anything like this before. I have seen an article regarding placing an entire light tent around a flower…just think how cumbersome that would be. But, a small light weight bucket is novel. I’m already thinking about trying it myself. Perhaps trying to find a other color buckets as well – especially if they stack easily.

    I’m impressed by the photographs. Good job.

  • jiminyClickit

    The first time I tried a bucket, it reduced frustration, saved time and eliminated bad backgrounds. The response I’ve seen so far tells me I’m not the only one who needed the kind of help this method provides. Hope it works as well for you, too. Thanks to all who responded.

  • Leave it to JiminyClickit. He comes up with some fantastic ideas, and this one is super. Great idea I’m going to be looking for a Black Oval Bucket.
    Thanks JiminyClickit.

  • Raj

    Neat trick. Thanks for the tip.

    raj…

  • That’s a very cool idea. I’ll try it for sure. I love taking pictures of flower. Thanks JiminyClickit!

  • WTL

    You might be able to achieve a similar look with a piece of black velvet fabric – or even just some black broadcloth.

    Not quite as handy as a bucket, but folds up and is much easier to carry around.

  • harry hockedy

    great idea.could use different size buckets

  • This is definately a very original and cool idea, I may just try this out, since you can use different color/size buckets!

  • Patty

    You know how I know it is windy?
    Because since the day I got my macro – it has been blowing!!

    This is very cool, beats the wind and also solves the problem of who will hold the black backdrop for you while you take the shot!

    A white bucket would be interesting to try too…

    Thanks for the idea and the tutorial!

  • Chet

    Cool idea! The turnout is nice too. I’m not into macro but this is something I will remember if I ever try.

    The great part is making do which you did very well.

  • nick

    Well that’s an interesting idea. I would though cut some paper up so that it completely covers the inside of the bucket.Pastel colored paper would reflect some light so that might help with some of flowers that turned out too dark and provide choice as to appropriate back grounds for the flower.

  • DON TREADWELL

    Great idea… I’m wonddering how you handles the light. Was it natural lightijg or flash. What did you shhot at for DOF? The tradional f22 or less or more? Thanks
    Don

  • Andy

    Never thought of this. I photo lots of flowers & I will try it. Back grounds take away from the subject.

  • Tameika

    What a great idea. I never ever thought of doing something like this for plant shots.

  • What a great idea. So often there are times when I want to eliminate a background and this will do the trick nicely. Thanks!

  • It’s really a nice and very practical idea.
    But I prefer more natural surroundings to shoot flowers. Well, instead of black bucket if one put a 18% gray object it bring the real natural feel of the flowers. Also, instead of bucket something else more natural, more tender, greenish background object can be use surrounding the flower, which can protect from the wind, harsh sun-light, etc.
    Of course, here the writer has produce a very good idea and the photographers should expand it.
    Thanks.

  • kishore

    This is a great idea. But, carrying a PVC bucket is not always feasible especially if we would like to take the snaps in a flower show or something similar. I would carry a Black Paper or rexin cloth and when required, prepare it in the form of a cone and use it instead of bucket.

  • jiminyClickit

    DON TREADWELL, Fuji FP S3100 does well at f/8, portrait mode under full sun. I use negative compensation for the conditions and color of plant.

  • jiminyClickit

    Patty, Necessity is the Mother of invention. Here, I could get a breeze started just by walking outside with camera. No bloom photos were ever in focus until – tahdah! Bucket! Hope it works well for you.

  • Brilliant idea!!!!

    I’ll try a dark green bucket. Thanks so much.

  • I think you could easily make an additional modification to the bucket design to give you more flexibility for your backdrop.

    1. Cut out the bottom of the bucket and mount some clamps or clothespins to the outside rim.

    2. Cut various colored fabrics to cover the hole and give you varying color background options. When you attach the fabric to the bottom of the bucket, it will most likely be back-lit (to some extent) and will give you some interesting options, I’m sure.

    3. Attach a complimentary colored background to the bottom of the bucket and line up your shot accordingly to take in both the flower and your new back-lit background.

    Now I haven’t tried this, but from looking at the bucket design, there’s no reason why this couldn’t work. Just make sure you’ve a very shallow depth-of-field so you don’t get any detail in the fabric.

  • Cassandra Smith

    Wicked idea. I have so much stuff around my house, as an all round artist, can’t seem to focus on just one medium. I was thinking, I will definately be making one of your fancy buckets. Just yesterday, I was bothered by the wind. It feels nice, but not when you are trying to photograph a crazy piece of grass with all the little seeds stuck to it. Image was not good. I shall try this.

  • MNoor

    Not only it can be used outdoor, but indoor as well. Very cool idea…congrats!

  • Karol Hodgson

    Great Idea! I have actually used a video chair to get a black background. It worked great, of course it isn’t very portable.

  • Neli

    Cool idea, as always, Jiminy!

  • thanks jiminyclikit for sharing this. It is a very creative idea. Makes photography more creative.

  • I think it’d be interesting to see if someone could craft a transparent version of this, allowing things in the background to be seen in the photo as well.

  • quero arte de photophop

  • pj

    that’s so cool

  • jiminyClickit

    For everyone who has added a bit to this idea: I’m using some of your ideas to improve my shots, too! Thanks for letting me know you have found a way to enjoy photography more and take better photos.

  • grage

    You’re welcome… hehehe.. this is awesome trick!!

  • Dobi

    great solutions are always simple
    and a genius gives simple solutions..

    hats off genius 🙂

  • This is the most ingenius setup I have every seen. I think I can now start getting much better flower images. Thanks.

  • R. G. Chesneau P.

    If you have not a bucket you can use a mate black blanket a/o plastic (mate too). You can cut as many slits as you need. It’s a nice idea.

  • Pamela Hubbard

    So simple…I will definitely try this!

  • awesome Idea. will try7 it- the wind seems to follow me where ever I go for flower shots lol

  • jonathan

    great!

Some Older Comments

  • swampwitch November 18, 2011 09:46 am

    awesome Idea. will try7 it- the wind seems to follow me where ever I go for flower shots lol

  • Pamela Hubbard June 6, 2008 04:18 am

    So simple...I will definitely try this!

  • R. G. Chesneau P. May 18, 2008 01:39 pm

    If you have not a bucket you can use a mate black blanket a/o plastic (mate too). You can cut as many slits as you need. It's a nice idea.

  • Lee O. Alexander January 23, 2008 12:56 pm

    This is the most ingenius setup I have every seen. I think I can now start getting much better flower images. Thanks.

  • Dobi August 15, 2007 07:17 pm

    great solutions are always simple
    and a genius gives simple solutions..

    hats off genius :)

  • grage June 22, 2007 12:45 am

    You're welcome... hehehe.. this is awesome trick!!

  • jiminyClickit June 19, 2007 11:56 am

    For everyone who has added a bit to this idea: I'm using some of your ideas to improve my shots, too! Thanks for letting me know you have found a way to enjoy photography more and take better photos.

  • pj June 18, 2007 01:45 pm

    that's so cool

  • elizane mara chiconeli June 18, 2007 05:33 am

    quero arte de photophop

  • Andrew June 18, 2007 12:12 am

    I think it'd be interesting to see if someone could craft a transparent version of this, allowing things in the background to be seen in the photo as well.

  • Wilfrank Paypa June 17, 2007 07:36 pm

    thanks jiminyclikit for sharing this. It is a very creative idea. Makes photography more creative.

  • Neli June 17, 2007 07:33 pm

    Cool idea, as always, Jiminy!

  • Karol Hodgson June 17, 2007 05:28 am

    Great Idea! I have actually used a video chair to get a black background. It worked great, of course it isn't very portable.

  • MNoor June 16, 2007 06:16 pm

    Not only it can be used outdoor, but indoor as well. Very cool idea...congrats!

  • Cassandra Smith June 16, 2007 07:39 am

    Wicked idea. I have so much stuff around my house, as an all round artist, can't seem to focus on just one medium. I was thinking, I will definately be making one of your fancy buckets. Just yesterday, I was bothered by the wind. It feels nice, but not when you are trying to photograph a crazy piece of grass with all the little seeds stuck to it. Image was not good. I shall try this.

  • Michael June 15, 2007 11:58 pm

    I think you could easily make an additional modification to the bucket design to give you more flexibility for your backdrop.

    1. Cut out the bottom of the bucket and mount some clamps or clothespins to the outside rim.

    2. Cut various colored fabrics to cover the hole and give you varying color background options. When you attach the fabric to the bottom of the bucket, it will most likely be back-lit (to some extent) and will give you some interesting options, I'm sure.

    3. Attach a complimentary colored background to the bottom of the bucket and line up your shot accordingly to take in both the flower and your new back-lit background.

    Now I haven't tried this, but from looking at the bucket design, there's no reason why this couldn't work. Just make sure you've a very shallow depth-of-field so you don't get any detail in the fabric.

  • gwei June 15, 2007 08:43 pm

    Brilliant idea!!!!

    I'll try a dark green bucket. Thanks so much.

  • jiminyClickit June 15, 2007 08:35 pm

    Patty, Necessity is the Mother of invention. Here, I could get a breeze started just by walking outside with camera. No bloom photos were ever in focus until - tahdah! Bucket! Hope it works well for you.

  • jiminyClickit June 15, 2007 08:29 pm

    DON TREADWELL, Fuji FP S3100 does well at f/8, portrait mode under full sun. I use negative compensation for the conditions and color of plant.

  • kishore June 15, 2007 02:06 pm

    This is a great idea. But, carrying a PVC bucket is not always feasible especially if we would like to take the snaps in a flower show or something similar. I would carry a Black Paper or rexin cloth and when required, prepare it in the form of a cone and use it instead of bucket.

  • Vijay June 15, 2007 12:20 pm

    It's really a nice and very practical idea.
    But I prefer more natural surroundings to shoot flowers. Well, instead of black bucket if one put a 18% gray object it bring the real natural feel of the flowers. Also, instead of bucket something else more natural, more tender, greenish background object can be use surrounding the flower, which can protect from the wind, harsh sun-light, etc.
    Of course, here the writer has produce a very good idea and the photographers should expand it.
    Thanks.

  • Susan Borgas June 15, 2007 12:12 pm

    What a great idea. So often there are times when I want to eliminate a background and this will do the trick nicely. Thanks!

  • Tameika June 15, 2007 10:59 am

    What a great idea. I never ever thought of doing something like this for plant shots.

  • Andy June 15, 2007 08:07 am

    Never thought of this. I photo lots of flowers & I will try it. Back grounds take away from the subject.

  • DON TREADWELL June 15, 2007 07:34 am

    Great idea... I'm wonddering how you handles the light. Was it natural lightijg or flash. What did you shhot at for DOF? The tradional f22 or less or more? Thanks
    Don

  • nick June 15, 2007 06:55 am

    Well that's an interesting idea. I would though cut some paper up so that it completely covers the inside of the bucket.Pastel colored paper would reflect some light so that might help with some of flowers that turned out too dark and provide choice as to appropriate back grounds for the flower.

  • Chet June 15, 2007 04:14 am

    Cool idea! The turnout is nice too. I'm not into macro but this is something I will remember if I ever try.

    The great part is making do which you did very well.

  • Patty June 15, 2007 03:09 am

    You know how I know it is windy?
    Because since the day I got my macro - it has been blowing!!

    This is very cool, beats the wind and also solves the problem of who will hold the black backdrop for you while you take the shot!

    A white bucket would be interesting to try too...

    Thanks for the idea and the tutorial!

  • Char June 15, 2007 02:43 am

    This is definately a very original and cool idea, I may just try this out, since you can use different color/size buckets!

  • harry hockedy June 15, 2007 02:22 am

    great idea.could use different size buckets

  • WTL June 15, 2007 12:31 am

    You might be able to achieve a similar look with a piece of black velvet fabric - or even just some black broadcloth.

    Not quite as handy as a bucket, but folds up and is much easier to carry around.

  • Carol Browne June 14, 2007 11:45 pm

    That's a very cool idea. I'll try it for sure. I love taking pictures of flower. Thanks JiminyClickit!

  • Raj June 14, 2007 11:44 pm

    Neat trick. Thanks for the tip.

    raj...

  • Rick M June 14, 2007 10:15 pm

    Leave it to JiminyClickit. He comes up with some fantastic ideas, and this one is super. Great idea I'm going to be looking for a Black Oval Bucket.
    Thanks JiminyClickit.

  • jiminyClickit June 14, 2007 01:39 pm

    The first time I tried a bucket, it reduced frustration, saved time and eliminated bad backgrounds. The response I've seen so far tells me I'm not the only one who needed the kind of help this method provides. Hope it works as well for you, too. Thanks to all who responded.

  • Jack June 14, 2007 09:02 am

    I have never seen anything like this before. I have seen an article regarding placing an entire light tent around a flower...just think how cumbersome that would be. But, a small light weight bucket is novel. I'm already thinking about trying it myself. Perhaps trying to find a other color buckets as well - especially if they stack easily.

    I'm impressed by the photographs. Good job.

  • viki June 14, 2007 09:00 am

    This is ingenious. Excellent for stock photos. You could apply this same concept to other images: insects, fish, inanimate objects like autumn leaves, cookies or anything that can fit in the bucket. Stock photo buyers usually want an image that can be taken off the background. It would be easy enough to have buckets of different colors: white, gray, etc.
    Love it ... you're a genius

  • Jordan Meeter June 14, 2007 06:49 am

    Creative, but I don't really see myself ever doing that!

  • Tad June 14, 2007 06:26 am

    Wonderful! Now, if only I could put some of the people I shoot in buckets, I'll have it made.

  • Andrew Ferguson June 14, 2007 05:38 am

    These remind me of the work of a photographer I saw give a talk here who loved using his scanner to take photos of flowers in dark rooms.

    The flowers would always appear to be growing out of the blackness, similar to these bucket shots.

    I wish I could remember his name, he did some interesting stuff.

  • mike June 14, 2007 04:36 am

    very nice idea mate! I loved it! cant wait to build one!

  • Larry Eiss June 14, 2007 03:17 am

    I shoot this sort of stuff a lot, and I love this idea. I'll be doing some experimentation with it. Thanks for sharing this!

    There is nothing like a black background for flowers. It makes the color pop. With this technique you almost get a product shot on which you can replace the background with anything you like in post-processing.

    I can also see how alternate colors could be used to back the shot; patterns; all sorts of ideas are popping into my head.

  • Esteban June 14, 2007 03:16 am

    While it is a great idea and a great solution for a specific problem, I still find more attractive to let in the context of the flower, such as other near flowers, plants, or even landscape or constructions on the background. Movement caused by wind could still be reduced by shooting at faster speeds, with faster lenses.

  • AC June 14, 2007 02:51 am

    It's a cool idea, but I prefer having a more natural backdrop. As for the wind factor, it's a matter of patience or having a friend/stranger hold down the stalk gently.

    May just try this thing out though :)

  • Peter June 14, 2007 02:38 am

    Very original idea and the results look great :)

    I'm not really into this type of photography, so I won't be recreating it, however as I've said; it's an awesome idea which works really well and those cost you a fortune.

    great job!

  • mdwsta4 June 14, 2007 02:08 am

    ha! i have to admit, that's a pretty cool and original idea.

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