Skip to main content

Get creative at home by taking fresh-looking macro photographs of flowers

Get creative at home by taking fresh-looking macro photographs of flowers
(Image credit: Claire Gillo)

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 (opens in new tab)

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.

(Image credit: Claire Gillo)
(opens in new tab)

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.

Step by step: Creative close-ups of a flower

(Image credit: Claire Gillo)
(opens in new tab)

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. 

(Image credit: Claire Gillo)
(opens in new tab)

02. Lighting

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.

(Image credit: Claire Gillo)
(opens in new tab)

03. Choose the right lens

It helps to use a macro lens (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) and switch your standard lens around the other way. Set your camera up on a tripod (opens in new tab), and focus manually. If your flower is positioned at an angle to the camera, consider focus stacking (opens in new tab) for sharper results.

• Read more: Best macro lenses (opens in new tab)

This article was first published in Digital Camera magazine.

Subscribe now

Every issue of Digital Camera magazine is crammed with tips, techniques, pro advice, reviews, news and inspiration to help you to hone your creative skills. To get a copy delivered straight to your door every month, subscribe at our online shop (opens in new tab).

Alternatively, you could choose from our range of digital options, including:

• Apple app (opens in new tab) (for iPad or iPhone)
• Zinio app (opens in new tab) (multi-platform app for desktop or smartphone)
• Google Play (opens in new tab) (for Android devices)
• Readly (opens in new tab) (digital magazine subscription service )

Read more: 

Best ringflash for macro photography (opens in new tab)
The best macro lenses (opens in new tab)
The best flashguns and strobes (opens in new tab)
The best close-up filters (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Claire is a professional photographer and writer lives by the the sea with her two young children, husband and cat in the South West of the UK.


After graduating from The Bournemouth Arts Institute with a first class degree in Photography, Claire worked for a number of years in the publishing industry including as Technique Editor for  Digital Camera magazine.


She love anything and everything to do with photography! From creating magazine articles to photographing ballerinas on the beach and new born babies (not not at the same time).  She mainly shoot with digital DSLRs but does dust off her beloved Hasselblad medium format film off once in a while…