Spring is around the corner and the little flowers start to pop up everywhere. This article focuses on how to photograph these little flowers with a macro lens. However, you don’t necessary need a macro lens to use these techniques. A longer lens with a large aperture will also work, but you won’t get the super smooth silky bokeh (that beautiful soft part behind the flower). For the best results, especially with tiny flowers, get a macro lens or use the cheaper option: macro rings (Google them for your lens). And let the fun begin!
Disclaimer: I photograph macro mostly different than a lot of other ‘macro photographers’ as I am doing it the ‘easy and lazy’ way, meaning I don’t use a tripod which makes me fast & flexible. Everyone works different and in my opinion there is no right or wrong. I am simply explaining you how I work. The article is meant to get you inspired!
These techniques can literally be used anywhere. You only need a small patch of flowers. You can even do it in your garden! In this article I'm mostly using a little field of Snowdrops and Crocus flowers next to my house. Here's a little video of the simple scenery:
Let's get started!
- Get low on eye level with the flower. Don’t photograph them from an angle up top, you won’t get proper depth that way.
- Shoot during early spring mornings to get dew drops on the flowers. You may also bring your own water spray to get that ‘wet look’ but I find the little dew drops more natural and beautiful.
- Light: Different kinds of light give a completely different mood. Photograph in the evening to get a ‘darker’ mood, and photograph on early morning to get a more colour full mood. This kind of photography can be done perfectly fine at any time of day. An overcast day is actually perfect to spend some hours of macro flower photography. When it’s very sunny, strong shadows can be difficult to work with. Try to find shade (behind a tree) or create your own shade by bringing a white umbrella to put it over the flower!
- Composition comes SUPER precise. 1 cm to left or right completely changes your composition. Therefore you can take countless composition with just 1 subject. Try slightly moving and take all kinds of different shots from the same flower.
- For my style of shooting I don’t use a tripod. 2 reasons are: I often need to get extremely low to the ground and a tripod makes it cumbersome. And second: with hand held shooting I can move composition extremely fast & precise. It takes some practise though, and when it gets darker you need to ramp up your ISO a bit.
- Shoot from a bit further to see the flower with its environment. Seeing it stand in between the ’big’ grass or other bigger flowers makes it look tiny and adds emotion.
- Shoot super close, to basically get a ‘portrait’ of the flower. And you can shoot even closer to get only a tiny bit of detail of the flower.
- Focus comes EXTREMELY tight. I often use autofocus and I am really careful with my focus point. Determine exactly what you want to focus on: The top of the flower or the leaves itself. I often focus on the stern, and sometimes on the outside of the leave. See what you like best!
- Most of my shots are taken wide open at f/2.8 with the macro lens. This gives me that super dreamy look. You may want to stop down a bit more if you want more of the flower in focus.
- Use other flowers as foreground bokeh. This gives an intimate look.
- Background is almost more important than the flower itself! Having the right light and colour in the photo can make or break it. It often only takes a super small movement to change the background. So take that time to find the proper background.
- Use streetlights or car lights as interesting bokeh backdrops! Flowers can often be found right next to the road. You can use building or car lights to your creativity.
- Use editing techniques to make your shots even more dreamy, by removing distracting little parts (like little dirt on the flower, or distracting things on the grass). Besides that, if you are interested in how I edit all my landscape images (including a special macro lesson), you can check out my editing course on www.edityourlandscapes.com
- Bonus tip: A flip screen on your camera is super handy for all of this. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to lay down on the ground. Bring a carpet :)
I hope you found these tips useful. I wanted to add 1 more thing. You DON’T need an amazing camera do do these shots. The lens (macro lens or standard lens with macro rings) is the most important here.
Gear used for these shots:
Feel free to drop any question in the comments!