Posted in Sights and Sounds
May 8, 2011
I have to confess that I just love doing macro plant and floral portraits. Just getting low enough in search for those tiny, hidden treasures is such a buzz with all the fascinating patterns with stems and leaves. What's more of a surprise is the small, winged visitors that may appear in view of my lens whilst on their feeding frenzy; or perhaps its the multi legged critter that is happily resting in his home. From a standing point all these could be missed! Foremost, I am drawn to the health and the colours of the plant in the way Mother Nature's manages to harmonise these hues.
Its quite often that I get asked which set-up I use for my floral macro photography, so here's a little overview and starting with the light: early in the morning brings dew on the leaves and when the bugs are quite sluggish (not unlike us in the morning) as they awaken slowly with the morning's warmth. Early evenings on a clear day can also give interesting light with the sun's backlight leaving overlapping patterns in the petals and leaves. My preferred lighting conditions is on an overcast day with no wind, where the sun is doing its best to break through the clouds; on a day like this I would visit a garden as the soft light will give even light throughout, unlike the harsh contrast that bright sunlight will produce. The important tools of the trade would have to be my tripod with its ball head mount, to be able to move the camera freely into a portrait or landscape orientation. Another must tool is a cable release by attaching it to the camera to help prevent any possible shutter movement. I use my 100 mm macro lens most of the time for close-ups and I switch it to manual focus when the camera is placed on its tripod. This gives me control of the main focus area of my subject. For an interesting effect, I change the focus setting in the camera's functions to spot focus; this will darken the background to allow my subject to remain in the spotlight. Composition can be a challenge sometimes when there are a group of flowers, as I may want to blend out particular background colours and shapes to allow a single flower to be my main point of focus (like the main picture). I manage this by adjusting my aperture setting (depth of field) on my camera to a large focus (F stop) setting. In my camera bag I also carry a small, white piece of cardboard to times when I would like to reflex some light back onto the subject.