Macro flower photography: 5 fresh ideas that will cost you nothing

Macro flower photography: 5 fresh ideas that will cost you nothing

Liven up your macro flower photography by taking a fresh approach this spring. Here are our five best creative photo ideas for capturing eye-catching seasonal images, and the best part is you don’t need anything more than your camera, lens and perhaps a bit of patience!

All words and images by Mark Hamblin

Macro flower photography: 5 fresh ideas that will cost you nothing

Canon 1Ds Mark II with 180mm f/3.5 macro, 1/80 sec at f/8, ISO100

Macro flower photography ideas: 01 Just add water

Dew is a common phenomenon on spring mornings, coating everything with beautiful jewel-like droplets that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary

What’s the basic idea?
Look for a dew-coated subject that you can shoot against a clean background to make the droplets stand out. A dark-coloured backdrop works especially well, as it adds contrast and gives the dew more impact.

SEE MORE: Spring flowers – how to choose the best subjects and make your best-ever images

What’s the fresh approach?
To make the picture more dynamic, move in close for a more striking composition.

By cutting out anything superfluous you can concentrate the viewer’s attention on the most visually appealing part of the image without the eye being distracted by anything around the edges of the frame.

Shoot very early in the morning when the light is most attractive, and take advantage of low-angled sunlight to illuminate the subject more directly from behind to give a more intense backlighting effect.

SEE MORE: Spring pictures – how to set up your camera for seasonal close-ups

What’s the technique?
When shooting close-ups, depth of field is limited even at very small apertures like f/16, so the best way to maximise how much is in focus is to position your camera so that the back, and therefore the sensor, is parallel to the subject.

A tripod is essential for this, as it enables you to fine-tune the position of the camera until the important parts of the subject (in this case the dew drops) all come into focus.

If you do this, an aperture of around f/8 should sharpen up the subject enough without bringing the background into focus.

SEE MORE: What is a macro lens – magnification and minimum focus distance explained

Expert tip
Bright water droplets can easily fool your camera’s exposure meter, so for the best results set Spot metering, and point your camera’s central focusing point at a part of the scene – such as a bright area of leaf in our image – that’s mid-toned (the centre of the frame is where the ‘spot’ takes a reading from).

With f/8 and ISO100 set in Manual mode, simply adjust the shutter speed until the exposure level indicator lines up with the ‘0’ on the exposure scale.

If you do this, the mid-tone in your scene will be a perfect mid-tone in your final image.

If you want it to be slightly darker, line it up with -1 (by setting a slightly faster shutter speed to let in less light); if you want it slightly brighter, line it up with +1 (by setting a slightly slower shutter speed to let in more light).

The beauty of Manual mode is that once you’ve set the aperture, ISO and shutter speed, you can recompose your shot as needed, and the settings will stay the same, so the mid-tone will stay a mid-tone, no matter where you point your camera.

Macro flower photography ideas: 01 Just add water
Macro flower photography ideas: 02 Head indoors
Macro flower photography ideas: 03 Minimise depth of field
Macro flower photography ideas: 04 Fill the frame
Macro flower photography ideas: 05 Go abstract

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