I love close up photography. It can give you stunning and sometimes unexpected results. Just taking the photographs makes you so much more observant of the special markings on the individual plants or insects.
Pair together macro photography with digital magnification and it is like looking down a microscope.
It is difficult to believe some things are produced by nature and are not man-made.
This picture fooled a few people because of the markings on the spheres.
It was actually insect eggs, and eventually little tiny caterpillars hatched out.
I try to take a lot of macro photographs as I find them fascinating and stunning, but they are not that easy. When you are taking a photo so close to a plant you have very little depth of field – that is how much depth of the photo is in focus at the time. This causes a few problems. The first is that only a part of a plant may be in focus and the rest is a bit of a blur. This may be the effect you want, but it often isn’t. It helps a bit to use a narrower aperture, say F5.6 instead of F3, but for a deep plant such as an Iris you may need to move further away from the plant and then magnify and crop the image afterwards to get the photo you want.
Focusing at all can be a bit of a trial when you are balanced on one leg in the middle of a flowerbed trying very hard not to crush the surrounding plants. To get the camera to focus on the exact part you want, it is usually better to use manual focus. Even that is tricky and it is sometimes easier to get it roughly right and then to move the whole camera rather back and forth rather than change the focusing ring. Of course when you take the photo it is quite difficult not to move the camera again and lose the focus. Ideally then, it is better to use a tripod and a remote release, though I challenge anyone to get a normal tripod in the correct position to get that particular bloom you want. A monopod may be better – does anyone use one?
Individual flowers can look stunning when the background is out of focus – an effect know as bokeh. It is important in this case to notice what is behind your flower in the shot you are taking. You need the correct combination of distance from the plant and aperture (F number) setting so all the plant is in focus, but the background isn’t. If the plant is some distance from the background it helps a lot.
Early or late shots with the sun behind the plant can lead to wonderful results, but, speaking from experience here, don’t ever look at the sun through a lens – even a setting sun, as it can damage your retina!
Finally, the weather conditions have to be correct for close up photography. Although you are often using a really fast shutter speed the depth of field issue mentioned earlier means even a breath of wind will cause your picture to be out of focus.
If you want to see what can really be done with macro photography you must have a look at Rosie Nixon’s site, Leavesnbloom. Her plant photos are so beautiful, real works of art.
If you love getting up close and personal to the insect world then Suzy Blue is well worth a visit.