Macro nature photography: tips for taking pin-sharp close-ups of flowers and insects

Macro nature photography: tips for taking pin-sharp close-ups of flowers, lichen and butterflies

In our latest Professional Photographer to the Rescue series post our pro shares his best macro nature photography tips to help our apprentice learn how to take pin-sharp pictures of wildflowers, lichen, butterflies and much more.

Macro nature photography: tips for taking pin-sharp close-ups of flowers, lichen and butterflies

Meet our professional photographer

Ross Hoddinott is one of Britain’s best-known wildlife photographers, and specialises in getting right in close to nature with his macro lens. The 35-year-old Cornishman  was recently named one of Nikon’s UK Ambassadors. You  can find out more about his books, workshops and his beautiful imagery at www.rosshoddinott.co.uk

Meet our apprentice

Jan Churchward lives in Torbay where she works as the finance officer for a local health centre. Unusually Jan didn’t nominate herself to be our apprentice – unbeknown to her, she had her name put forward by her husband Derek. They are both keen photographers, but while he loves landscapes, she has got more into taking pictures of the macro world since she got her D60 some five years ago. So met up with Ross and our team for a day’s shoot, photographing the flora and fauna near Bude in Cornwall.

Technique assessment

As they took pictures of the flowers along the Coombe Valley, Ross suggested these ways Jan could set up her camera to improve her picture shooting success rate:

Macro nature photography tips: use the right white balance

Auto White Balance

Keep your greens clean
Ross says… In woodland settings, the huge amount of green foliage will fool the Auto White Balance setting, and will give an overall colour cast to the shot.

Macro nature photography tips: use the right white balance

Cloudy White Balance

I got Jan to switch from AWB to the manual Cloudy White Balance setting, and there was an immediate improvement to the look of her shots on the LCD.

Macro photography tips: Legs akimbo

Legs akimbo
Ross says… For shots of woodland flowers you need to get the camera as low to the ground as possible. Jan’s tripod wasn’t getting low enough – but I discovered that you could unscrew the centre column to allow the legs to splay right out.

Macro photography tips: use Live View

Live update
Ross says… I am always reluctant to suggest people upgrade their camera. But Jan’s D60 does not have LiveView, which is an extremely useful facility for macro as it allows you to check focus so precisely. I let Jan try out a D7100 I had borrowed from Nikon so she could see the advantages of this video display of the viewfinder image.

PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Macro nature photography tips for planning your shoot
PAGE 3: Final macro nature photography advice from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day

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