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5 Inspirational Flower Macro Images and How to Make Your Own

March 28, 2016 - Uncategorized

Spring has sprung for many of us and soon gorgeous flora will be popping
up here, there and everywhere just begging to be photographed. Capturing flowers
and plants up close can give us an entirely different perspective on what we’d
usually see.

In this tutorial we’ll show you five inspirational floral macro pictures
to get you raring to go, and I’ll go through my top tips to nailing your
perfect photo and what kit you’ll need to do it.

What You Need

A Macro Lens or Alternative

A macro lens will let you focus really close up on very small things.
They’re usually fast (meaning they have a large maximum aperture and let in lots of light) and come in a variety of focal
lengths and prices. I find that prime lenses are sharper than zooms, but be prepared to
work harder to nail your picture.

A true macro lens will have the ratio 1:1 or greater on it, meaning it
produces a life-size or larger representation of what you shoot. Some telephoto
lenses (like the popular 70-300mm) will state they have a macro function, but
what this really means is you can zoom in to a ‘near macro’ size. Of course the
benefit of this is being much further away, handy if you were photographing
insects, for example. The small apertures usually mean that this magnitude isn’t
feasible for great quality pictures, though.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need a dedicated lens, there are other
alternatives such as extension tubes for your existing lenses and even filters
you can buy. A compact camera or phone camera with a small flower symbol on it
may also take acceptable macro pictures, so you really can try this with almost
anything! You can see more in the recommended reading about macro equipment,
below.

Recommended
Reading:

A Tripod

A tripod, maybe. Personally I prefer hand-held, as you can move into
position much faster without the faff of having to adjust a tripod. Also, many
tripods don’t go low enough for getting right down to the level of the flowers.

Beanbags are also quite handy for resting your camera on, either dedicated photography ones or just the
kind you used to throw about at school.

Recommended
Reading:

  • Introduction to Digital Photography Equipment
    Photographic equipment sometimes gets complicated and it’s easy to
    get overwhelmed by all the options. In this course you’ll find out exactly
    what gear you need to master the basics of digital photography. 

Something to Kneel or Sit On

This sounds silly
but it’s worth consideration, particularly if you’re in a damp and rainy
country like England! The ground is often wet, even on sunny days and if you’re
down low, kneeling on grass or dirt then you don’t want to ruin your favourite
jeans. Take an old blanket, wear old clothes or even bring a bin-liner with
you!

Flowers and Interesting Plants

We don’t all have
flowers in our back gardens so think about good places to get interesting
pictures. There are many local parks you could make use of, formal gardens in
stately homes, even your local garden centre (with permission of course).

Flash or Speedlight

I much prefer
natural light but enough of it isn’t always available and many macro
photographers swear by using flash, particularly a ring flash which attaches to
your lens rather than on top of the camera.

If you do use
artificial light, remember to soften it with a diffuser or bounce light from a
reflector instead.

 Recommended
Reading:

Inspiration

Lavender

lavender
Image licensed via Photodune

Clearly
this has been edited to make the image entirely purple but nevertheless it
demonstrates the effectiveness of a solid block of colour without any real
composition. When you have a busy background then making use of a prominent
colour can really make a statement; try using complimentary colours too.

Sprouting in the Forest

forest sprouting
Image licensed via Photodune

Another
good demonstration of blocks of colour but more than this, I think the image
shows a great use of narrow depth of field. The subject is not entirely in
focus but the parts that are, are sharp. This is a good demonstration of
keeping your background simple and having a single subject as your focus.

Orange and Blue

orange and blue
Image licensed via Photodune

Not only a great use of colour with that orange and blue but
a really nice perspective! With close up photography it really pays to get down
close to the ground and look up, it’s not a view we’re used to seeing and as
such, can look very unique and impressive.

Dandelion

dandelion
Image licensed via Photodune

A very popular subject for macro photography, in part because it allows
you to introduce movement. This generally will require a friend, but once you’ve
set up your show, having someone gently blow the dandelion can create a
beautiful, almost moving image. This is a good one to use a tripod for as you
have limited opportunities to get this right.

Wheat in a Vase

wheat in a vase
Image licensed via Photodune

This is a perfect example to tell us
that we don’t have to be out of doors to create a beautiful plant photograph.
This wheat in a vase has been carefully arranged, the background selected and
the colour scheme thought out. It results in a wonderfully soft, fluid image
where a nice sharp focus on the wheat melts to a soft bokeh in the background,
stunning.

Technique

When you’re shooting so close to your subject, your depth of field is limited. This
is a good argument for using a tripod as you can get away with slightly faster
shutter speeds without the danger of camera-shake. However, when we’re dealing
with flowers out of doors, chances are they’re going to be moving in the breeze slightly, anyway.

With lighting, avoid harsh sunlight which can cast very harsh shadows. Golden hour (around sunrise and sunset) is a great time to get a soft,
golden glow against your subject. You can even shoot into the sun when it’s
lower in the sky to back-light your flowers; this can be a very effective look.

Plants don’t have to be in situ. Try arranging bunches of flowers at
home to photograph. The benefit to this is you have full control over the light
and positioning of your plants, as well as being able to choose the background.
I actually recommend starting off this way to practise. Once you’ve nailed the
basics then it’ll be much easier to tackle the small battles of outdoor light
and the elements.

When taking your photograph, take a breath and slowly release it while
you squeeze the shutter button, this will help with camera shake. I also
recommend you use manual focus so that your camera doesn’t ‘hunt’ for focus. It
can be worth taking a few pictures with different parts in focus in case you
want to use a technique called focus
stacking
, later.

Top Tips to Getting Flower Macro Photographs

  1. Use
    as fast a shutter speed as possible to eliminate camera shake and avoid exacerbating
    movement.
  2. Avoid
    bright sunshine and harsh shadows. An overcast day is actually ideal for a
    neutral image, or try ‘golden hour’ for sun kissed photos.
  3. Avoid
    windy days or you’ll end up frustrated and with a lot of blurry pictures!
  4. Choose
    your background wisely. Avoid clutter and too many colours. Aim for simplicity.
  5. Try
    taking a spray bottle to cover your flower with ‘dew’ for added interest.

Further Resources

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re using a compact camera or a dedicated macro lens, close
up pictures are great fun to do and I think you get a real sense of achievement
when you get it right. Although the technical aspects are pretty
straightforward, putting it all into practice with elements you can’t control,
like the weather, can be tricker and it may take a little time before you’re
nailing your focus points and creating an interesting photograph.

Work on your basics first, like getting your focus sharp,
having the right exposure and so on, and then practice with things like
composition and background. That way you’ll be able to concentrate on the aesthetics
of the image while the technical side will be coming naturally–a bit like
changing gears while driving a car!

Share your flower macro photographs with us in the comments below and if
you have any questions, just ask!


Source: Photoshop | Tuts

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