By Jim Zuckerman
My feeling about shooting flowers is that the lighting is best when it's cloudy. Contrary to what most people think, flowers look the most beautiful when they are photographed in diffused lighting. Cloud covers act like a giant studio softbox, and softboxes or white umbrellas that studio photographers use actually are made to simulate an overcast sky.
I shot these wildflowers in the mountains of Switzerland recently, and they were taken during the middle of the day when the summer sun is the most intense. There were no clouds at all. The picture taken with the direct sunlight isn’t terrible, but it's not ideal. Compare it to the one where I leaned over the flowers and used my body to block the light. The contrast is less and the colors are beautiful. In essence, I created open shade with this simple technique. I used the next best thing to a cloud cover and softened the light on the tiny flowers.
In the picture with direct sunlight, notice the very dark shadows throughout the image. They interfere with the graphic designs of the flowers and almost compete for attention. In the shaded image, there are still shadows, but they are softened and they add dimension without being obtrusive.
There was a slight wind blowing, and I had to wait for the air to become still as I shot these. Wind is the enemy of macro photographers.