Bonsai photography

I have been working on my Bonsai photography, it’s notoriously difficult. So I bought some studio lighting from Amazon real cheap and out some more effort in. Hope you agree it’s not too bad.


Those are some decent results well done, perhaps consider decreasing the exposure slightly more as the use of a black background usually causes digital camera to over expose the foreground in such circumstances.

Though I use studio lighting in my work as a museum curator, I find that day light gives me the best results when photographing trees. It does demand waiting for the right light conditions, I prefer days with sunny intervals interspersed with light cloud to be ideal, the lightly filtered sunlight as a cloud begins moving across the sun is excellent.
Sunlight direction and time of day also have distinct effects. Consider this photo taken with incidental morning sun:

Compared to this taken with high afternoon sun

Also, a circular polarizing filter can really help to suppress the reflected light on broadleaf trees durring summer, plus it enriches and intensifies the colour without later processing.


Real good… But Now I can see the age lines…:rofl::joy::grinning:
Maybe photoshop…:thinking:

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Looks great! What kind of camera are you using?

Hi. It’s a Nikon D7200. 50-300mm f4.5 lens. Shot in a Raw file image and processed a little thorough Literoom.

Hello Nick,

I guess photography is in that regard like Bonsai. Painting with light is as much an artistic expression as creating our trees. With this it is also the form of ones vision and that may not be to someone else’s taste. So besides any technical skills it is also what story you want to tell.
For the technical part. Do you use a white balance card? I find that it is far easier to pull the shadows than to recover blown highlights. I think the white base adds additional unrest to the composition. As mentioned before, there is good studio lighting and there is the pleasure of natural light (with its limitations). A good, fast prime will always enable you to separate your subject from the background w/o resorting to the studio.

Some examples to illustrate my points. Not necessarily what I would consider good pictures and the selective focusing overdone in some. And not even Bonsai in others.


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Thank you. I’ll take that all on board. Really appreciated.

I will try the white balance card. You have no idea how many times I tell underwear photographers to white balance. ( I teach Scuba, not as much as I used too) This was my first time shooting with lights and with a plan. So I welcome your remarks. For sure a prime lens is on the shooing list. I’m still getting to grips with literoom so I hope to improve on that front too.

Freudian slip? :partying_face:

Interesting topic, I’m slowly building up a small photography setup at home… if only I could find where my old manfrotto tripod ended after the move. It’s pretty much the one piece of kit missing now (apart from more lenses, obviously).


Ooooops. Underwater photographers

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You may want to look into capture one. Me prefers the raw converter as well as the ui (commercial model anyway).

More lenses is kind of like more trees I guess …


That, and more clamps in the workshop :rofl:

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Ha ha, yep. But try to explain this to non working folks, or why you possibly need all those spannest and ratchets, planes etc. But we digress, we are here for the trees, and pots, and stands …

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I also prefer a somewhat shallower depth of field, with some areas of the tree in focus (although it’s a bit too much to the other extreme in the examples you gave for my tastes). I like the depth it adds but it does have the side effect of making the tree look small (or at least the size of a bonsai) and diminishes any illusion of it being a larger tree.

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@Nicknjh23 Why did you choose to show the pot at an angle, I’m wondering? Was it simply that you prefer this front for the tree and will look to change the potting angle at a future repot?

I agree with @antelion about the white base not doing you any favours. My suggestion would be to try the lights to each side more. Lighting from the front flattens the subject.

@Silva_Naturalis the difference between directional morning sun vs more ambient/global afternoon sun is incredible. I have a strong preference for the morning sun.


Correct I chose to have the pot at an angle because the tree definitely needs rotating to show the front. It was my mistake in last years re pot. But lesson learnt!!

For the base, couldn’t you use the same piece of fabric as your background? That way you’d have a seamless environment for your tree that would be less distracting.

I will defiantly give it a go. The white base didn’t phase me too much though. But for sure I’ll do a comparison. Thanks for all the comments.