Macro flower photography can be one of the more rewarding subjects you can shoot as a photographer. The flower’s colour, form and detail make striking images you will treasure all year round.
But shooting outside means you need to be prepared for some challenges, particularly those caused by the ever-changing light (not to mention the weather).
You can’t control these factors, but here are a few techniques that will give you a better chance of capturing the kind of macro flower photography you want.
As with any type of macro flower photography, a tripod is essential for providing a firm base.
This will also give you the flexibility to adjust the aperture and achieve the depth of field you’re after. Lighting can be tricky to get right too.
A flashgun will help illuminate the flower, but the harsh light can often black out the background.
A better solution is to use a reflector to redirect light from the sun and achieve a natural end result…
01 Shoot low
Get down to the same level as the flower. The lower vantage point will provide a background with much better appeal than the soil below. Move around the flower to find the best photo composition and then set up your tripod in that spot to give you a good firm base for taking the shot.
02 Camera settings
To make the flower stand out, use aperture priority set to f/5.6. This will capture the flower in focus while blurring out the background. With the LCD, zoom into a petal to check that it’s sharp. To adjust the aperture, open it to f/4 to reduce the depth of field, or go down to f/8 to increase it.
03 Get the lighting right
Lighting outside can be especially problematic thanks to the sun. Use a reflector to direct natural light into the shadowed area of the subject and help balance the exposure and lift detail in the shadows. For a warm glow, use a gold reflector. To achieve a more natural look, try a silver one.
04 Avoid movement
To help minimise any movement of your subject caused by the wind, use a skewer or tent peg to support the stem of the flower. As always, when shooting macros, use a shutter release cable. If possible, lock up your mirror to avoid any movement from the camera.