Macro photography and flowers are like two peas in a pod – the two together simply make sense. Flowers are incredibly intricate and detailed when you view them from a close perspective, and the variety of bold bright colors they provide makes them a popular subject.
When it came to setting up this macro flower shot, we used a CD as our background and set up an external flashgun to light it. (See the steps below for more information.)
• Read more: Best flashguns and strobes
We put the camera into manual mode and dialed the aperture down to f/11. To sync the shutter speed with the flash, we set the shutter speed to 1/200 sec and kept the sensitivity low at ISO100. As we had the flash positioned close to the flower, we balanced the flashgun strength at 1/8 power.
After you take a test shot, it’s important to check your histogram to ensure that your exposure is reading correctly. For this shot, we wanted to be sure that the highlights in the flower didn’t overexpose, as it would wash out the rich orange color.
We did a few test shots to check that the highlights in the flower didn’t overexpose…
Another test shot to check the highlights didn't blow out
Step by step: Creative close-ups of a flower
01. Set up the CD background
You know that pile of redundant CDs you still have stored away, and keep thinking you must get rid of? Hang on to them! They make a fantastic backdrop for close-up shots. If you angle your light source carefully, you can create a rainbow effect from the reflective surface. It’s a trial and error approach to get it right, but it’s well worth the effort.
To light this flower and create the rainbow effect from the CD, we used one external flashgun pointing directly at the flower. We used a remote trigger to fire the flash and set the flash strength to 1/8 power in manual mode. When you shoot with flash yourself, using manual is by far the easiest method and gives you the most control.
03. Choose the right lens
It helps to use a macro lens with a 1:1 aspect ratio to get super close-up shots – but if you don’t have one of these, you could use a reversing ring and switch your standard lens around the other way. Set your camera up on a tripod, and focus manually. If your flower is positioned at an angle to the camera, consider focus stacking for sharper results.
• Read more: Best macro lenses
This article was first published in Digital Camera magazine.
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