Bright colours and intricate details make flowers the perfect subject for experimenting with. In particular, in this article, we will work with flowers as subjects for close-up macro photography.
Using an extremely shallow depth of field, or capturing tiny details with a super close-up can produce almost endless, striking effects. Many species, such as tulips and crocuses have quite an accessible stamen, and this can be used as the focal point of the image.
When using a very shallow depth of field, with the stamen or stigma as the focus of the image, the petals can be used to frame the edge of the image and create a ‘wash’ of colour.
An alternative, minimalist, but still interesting effect can be created if you fill the frame only with the petals.
Whatever effect you decide to go for, the image works best in soft, diffuse light. Try to avoid harsh light like sunlight, but if this is not possible, use a diffuser to dampen it a little.
Get some Magnification
To shoot images like this, you need to get much closer than a standard zoom lens will allow. Ideally, the solution to this is a macro lens. However, macro lenses are expensive, you are looking at a price of at least £200+, and this is not ideal for people on a budget!
So, below are some alternative, and much cheaper, ways to get some magnification!
Close-up Lenses: These look like normal lenses, but they are not flat. Instead, contours of the glass cause them to act like a lens. They are available in a variety of strengths, such as +1, +2, +3, +4 etc (however they are often referred to just as close-up 1 or close up no.4). The larger the number, the stronger the effect. They can be used like normal filters, that is, screwed onto the front of your lens, or fit into a square filter system.
Extension Tubes: These are hollow tubes that fit between your lens and the camera body. They allow you to shoot macro images with your existing lens. In order to keep all your camera’s metering function when using extension tubes, you need to ensure that they have all the necessary electronic contacts, as some cheaper versions lack these. They usually come in a set of three tubes, which can be combined or used individually.
Keep It Still
When shooting at such high magnifications, the tiniest tremble of a finger, or shake of the subject can cause blur to ruin the shot. In order to keep everything still, shoot indoors, use a tripod, and position your subject securely, in a vase, or even better – clamp your subject!
The tiniest focusing error can ruin macro shots, therefore it is important to use manual focus. Use live view to ensure that everything is sharp.