One of the techniques I love to experiment with in photography is the creative usage of lighting and exposure — especially on the subject of flowers. Besides the obvious beauty, I discovered shooting flowers is a great way to help you learn how to use better lighting, exposure and composition.
When I look at a flower, I mentally break down all the different components and shapes: its colors, petals, stems, leaves etc. I see shapes and colors instead of the flower. By observing the flower this way, I am able to have different views of the flower rather than just seeing the one dimension view.
Oftentimes when I get ready to shoot; I usually have a visual image in my mind on how I want to post-process and what the result might look like. This gives me a better idea on the settings I would use when composing for a shot. For example, this series of dahlia flower was shot on a bright sunny afternoon. Knowing the light would be harsh and the flower colors would look too bright and flat. I decided to use the harsh lighting to my advantage and make the flowers look surreal and luminous. To achieve the look, I use f/6.3 (the largest opening available on my lens) to get a better shallow depth of field, and I use exposure setting lower than what my camera indicated as the correct exposure. By shooting it darker, I can later manipulate the light and color values better in Lightroom3.