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Photographing Cherry Blossoms: Should I Shoot Wide-angle or Telephoto?

When photographing cherry blossoms, is it better to get up close and shoot wide-angle, or shoot telephoto from afar? This is a common question photographers ask themselves when photographing flowers, and your preference influences the photographic style you create for yourself. In this article, 2 photographers share their respective preferences. (Reported by: Takehito Miyatake, Toshiki Takamuku)


Close-up at wide-angle: Use a high angle to capture scenery beyond

FL: 32mm
EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 32mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/10, 1/12 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Takehito Miyatake

Takehito Miyatake says:

“This photograph of cherry blossom trees was shot from a location that overlooked the Seto Inland Sea. The east-facing location provided a good view of the sunrise, but the slanting coast and the height of the trees made it hard to achieve a good composition that included the islands in the sea and the cherry blossoms. It was only by closing up on the cherry blossoms and shooting at a somewhat wide-angle from a high camera angle that allowed a view over the top of the trees that I was able to capture this scene.

As the sun was still rising, the optimum exposure keeps changing, so I shot in Aperture-priority AE mode instead of manual exposure. To bring out the bright, pale pastel pink colours, I applied exposure compensation of EV+0.3. The spring mist played a major part in imparting a soft, dreamy feeling to the entire picture.”


Tip: Use a very tall tripod to capture the scenery beyond


Shot without a tall tripod
EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 65mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/250 sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Takehito Miyatake

I was on a mountain, but even then, the trees in front of me were so tall that I could only catch glimpses of the background through gaps in the tree trunks. So I created a tripod that was 8m high, allowing a view over the treetops. The camera platform can be operated remotely, so I used my computer to preview the Live View image as well as control the camera angle and focus.


From afar at telephoto: Pair with a moving element for a soulful feel

FL: 105mm
EOS 5D Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/16, 13 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Toshiki Takamuku

Toshiki Takamuku says:

“I used the flowers and branches as the primary focus, but incorporated dynamism in the form of the flowing water. This adds some soul to image and makes it extremely compelling.

This photo was shot along a castle moat, where many flower petals were floating around. In the actual scene, the water currents were not that strong so it was relatively easy to photograph, but I had to expose the shot for at least 10 seconds. My main focus, the cherry blossoms, were easily displaced by the wind. If they just moved a bit, the photo loses its stable focus point, just like in the example below. Therefore, there must be absolutely no wind. 

In the evening, the wind calms and there is less light, which is perfect for long exposure photography. The cool colour temperature at this time also imparts a mystical atmosphere.”

Exposure was 4 seconds but the cherry blossoms moved in the wind, resulting in a failed shot.
EOS 5D Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM/ FL: 98mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/25, 4 sec, EV-1)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Toshiki Takamuku


For more ideas and tips for photographing cherry blossoms, check out:
How to Capture Detailed but Dreamy-Looking Cherry Blossoms With a Soft Filter
Stunning Starscapes: Photographing a Spectacular View of Cherry Blossoms and the Milky Way at Night

Decisions such as whether to shoot wide-angle or telephoto are a daily occurrence in photography. Read these articles to find out more:
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Front Light or Backlight?
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Whether or Not to Include the Sun in the Frame


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EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

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Takehito Miyatake


Born in 1966 in Osaka Prefecture, Miyatake joined a photographic equipment manufacturer as a studio photographer after graduating from the Department of Image Technology of the Tokyo Polytechnic University’s Faculty of Engineering. In 1995, he set up his studio Miyatake Photo Factory in Tokushima Prefecture where he grew up.



Toshiki Takamuku


Born in 1960 in Fukui Prefecture, Takamuku has been a professional photographer since 2011. He now lives in Nagano Prefecture where he provides images for magazines and other media.



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