Friday, April 18, 2014

Tiny Delicacies

As a follow-up to last week's post on macro photography, I've decided to dedicate this post to flowers. Not sunflowers, or over-enthusiastic roses, but tiny, delicate flowers, wildflowers, weeds. In other words, flowers that are great subjects for macro photography.

These are the sorts of flowers, just centimeters across, that are trampled by hikers, unnoticed in the great outdoors. In last week's post, I talked about the wonder of macro photography stemming from the artist's ability to expose an unseen world to the viewer. In many cases, these flowers appear strange or unusual simply because we never look at them.

Here are my tips for macro flower photography:

1. Angle

Many of these little flowers hang downward. Unassuming from above, their petals often hide intricate structures or patterns that make for appealing visual subjects. Don't be afraid to sit in the dirt to get these kinds of shots - it's okay. No one's looking, right?
Additionally, you can use the angle at which you approach your subject to either emphasize or downplay their tininess. 

 2. Appreciate Detail
As mentioned above, these flowers often hide complexities that we otherwise do not appreciate. Don't be afraid to get as close as you can, even taking extreme macros if you have the equipment to do so.
Even familiar flowers, like this Texas bluebonnet above, can become exotic and unusual when captured with a macro lens. Notice how the detail in the varying flower structures keeps the image interesting, balancing the vibrant blue tones.

3. Stability

Macro flower photography suffers from the same difficulties that any other macro photography does - namely, the magnification of unwanted motion in the frame. Particularly for flower photography, the wind can be a frustrating enemy to battle. 

The best advice I can give you, short of buying this device, a clamp designed to hold plants still in the wind, is to shoot in the early morning. You are probably doing that anyway - look at you! The morning tends to be the calmest time of day, in terms of wind. However, some days the weather just won't cooperate with you, and you'll have to find something else to shoot.
Of course, you could always play with artistic effects using a slow shutter speed and wind, but that discussion is for another post.

4. Accept Surprises

One of - in my opinion, anyway - the best things about macro photography is that you sometimes discover one thing while looking for another. Incorporating other wildlife always adds interest to a static shot.

Reduviid bug on Foxglove

So, are you going to try miniature flower photography this weekend? Or is this style of macro not for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and thanks for reading!

You can also check out this post I wrote about composition in flower photography.

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