Macro photography is the best way to capture minuscule details, allowing you to explore a tiny, hidden world that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Taking macro images of flowers is a rewarding type of photography. Flowers are excellent subjects, and they naturally look great. Photographing them is a pure joy and often results in some exceptional images.
Whether you’re new to the world of macro photography, or just looking for some ideas for capturing close-ups of flowers, here’s how you can create some amazing macro images of flowers.
→ Related reading: Photographing Macro Moments: 5 Tips
1. Know Your Equipment
While there’s much debate about what separates a true macro image from other close-ups, technically speaking, true macro photography has a 1:1 ratio, meaning that the image in real life is rendered the same size on the camera’s sensor, or even bigger.
Technicalities aside, there’s no question that the very best macro images are the ones that bring us up close and personal with minuscule subjects making them appear life-sized.
The best equipment for the job is the gear that you have with you. Even iPhones and compact cameras have been used to capture some great close-up images. Still, if you have a DSLR and own an assortment of lenses, they’ll allow you to get much closer to the flower, resulting in a higher quality –and true to form macro.
If you are looking to get serious about macro photography, you may want to consider investing in a true macro lens, which will allow you to capture even the smallest details. A telephoto lens is another great option, and one that’s preferred by many since it effectively helps to separate the subject from the background. Another option is a macro filter added to a prime lens.
If you can, bring along a tripod for steadying the camera for longer exposures, and for crisp, clear shots without camera shake. You may also want to bring a reflector (for cloudy conditions) or a diffuser (for bright, overhead sun) to help balance out the light.
2. Keep an Eye on the Weather
You’ll want to take note of the weather before you head out. At this level of magnification, any amount of shake will result in hazy blur, and even the slightest breeze can cause a flower to move, resulting in a blurry image. You may want to ensure that the wind is at a minimum before you head out, or be prepared to combat the movement by using a fast shutter speed. As for rain, you may want to wait until the storm has passed. Shooting in the rain can damage your camera, but there are great photo opportunities after the storm, raindrops still clinging to plant-life make great images.
→ Related reading: 11 Steps to Tack-Sharp Landscape Photos
3. Watch the Lighting
As with any other images –lighting can make or break your macro photos. Direct, harsh lighting is not ideal for the delicate subjects like flowers; it can result in harsh shadows and washed out images. Soft or diffused lighting is ideal when it comes to flowers, especially the light on a bright, overcast day. This type of lighting is smooth and even, resulting in clear, even colors with minimal shadows. However, you may want to bring along a reflector if you have one, to help fill in any shadows. Golden hour, the time of day just after sunrise and just before sunset, is an especially great time of day for photographing flowers. The lighting during these times covers everything in a soft, beautiful glow –resulting in spectacularly beautiful images.
4. Experiment With Different Angles
Since your subjects (flowers) won’t be going anywhere anytime soon –you’ll have plenty of time to try out different angles. Don’t be afraid to really get into it either, you will be surprised what a difference adjusting your angle or perspective can make –even with macro images!
5. Explore Depth of Field
Adjusting your depth of field is one of the best ways to completely transform the look of an image. With a wide aperture, something like f/4 or f/1.8, you’ll be able to softly blur the background out, and draw the main point of interest into focus. The farther the background is from the subject, the more blurry it will be. If you want to keep most of the image in focus though, be sure to use a narrow aperture (higher number) for a wide depth of field where most of the details are in focus.
→ Related reading: Why Shoot in Aperture Priority Mode?
When using wide apertures, and a narrow depth of field, it’s especially important to get the focus right. Don’t rely fully on autofocus as your camera may adjust the focus to be on a different area than what you had in mind. Choose the area that you want to be in focus, take the photo, and then recompose. Experimenting with different focal points is a great way to create unique and varied images.
7. Consider the Background
When it comes to macros, the right background can make or break your image. Most –but not all, macros can benefit from a simplified backdrop. Using a wide aperture is a great way to simplify the background, but there are other ways to create a simple background. You could also get closer and fill the frame with the flower. Or get low to the ground and photograph angling the camera up, using the sky as a background. Some photographers bring along an assortment of colored cards with them, for instant, simplified backgrounds.
8. Just Add Water
Water droplets can be great additions to your macro images. Early morning will often present dew covered flowers, but if you happen to venture out at a later time, you could bring along a squirt bottle to mist your subject before shooting. Drops of water can appear as mini-worlds as they reflect the world around them, and can also serve as beautiful, tiny diamond-like details on plants.
The next time you’re out with your camera, look for opportunities for macro shots. Who knows? It just might become your favorite type of photography!
Have you experimented with flower macro photos? Share your tips with us in the comments!
Photo license link: CC BY 2.0