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LinkedIn Learning

Photographing macro flowers in a natural setting

In this video, Joseph Linaschke shows us best practices for capturing macro flower photographs in a natural setting. For more LinkedIn Learning videos about photography, click here.

When you start shooting macro, one of the first things that’ll come to mind is shooting flowers. Flowers are beautiful, they’re colorful, they’re pretty much everywhere and they have the added benefit that your friends and family are going to enjoy looking at nice pictures of them. So let’s talk about how to make great pictures of flowers.

Here I have this lovely red and yellow flower that I really wish I knew what it was called, but I don’t. But it’s still lovely, and I want to take some nice pictures of it. Now we are going to start really simple and obvious. I’m just going to shoot pretty much straight down on it. Now let’s talk about the gear for a moment. Today I am shooting with a Canon 5D, and I’ve got on here a 100mm macro lens. I’m going to go ahead and take a picture of this just straight down. I’m in Aperture Priority Mode. And I’ve got a medium-ish setting on the aperture; let’s actually go to about f/8 on there. That should give me not too shallow of a depth of field, but not a whole lot in focus either. And let’s see what our first shot looks like.

This video is from Photography 101: Shooting Macros and Close-Ups by Joseph “PhotoJoseph” Linaschke

So straight down, I’m going to focus right on the tip there. Beautiful. So that shot, colorful, nice perspective, a little slow on the shutter speed though. At f/8 I was only getting a 1/20s. That’s pretty hard to hand hold. So lemme go ahead and take the ISO up a little bit to about 640 and I’m going to drop the aperture, open it up a little bit to 5.6. Let’s try again. Much better. Now we’re looking at about a hundredth of a second so that’s good hand holdable. And the picture’s beautiful.

You can see on here that the tip of the stamen are in focus, the deep part of the flower is not, and some of the tips of the leaves are in focus as well. Looks pretty good. Now let’s try from a different angle.

Now this is a really important part about shooting flowers or any kind of photography really. Change your angle, change your perspective, everybody’s used to seeing a flower from this angle. This is how they see it when they walk by, but not everybody gets down on the ground. So let’s go down and see what it looks like from down here. Beautiful, totally different shot down here. Again I’m in 5.6, this time I’m at 1/60s and I think it’s a lovely shot.

Now let’s change the aperture again and get a little bit more depth of field. I’m going to take it up to, say up to f/14. Now I’m also going to have to take the ISO up to do this, because if I don’t, I’m going to have too of a slow shutter speed to hand hold it. So let’s take the ISO all the way up to about 3200. That might be a little bit too high for your camera — it just depends on what you’ve got. Some cameras do high ISO really, really well and you won’t even notice that you’re at such a high ISO. So, let’s see what this looks like. Beautiful. As you can see here, we have a lot more in focus. So having that smaller aperture has allowed me to keep more of the shot in focus.

So, that’s what we’ve got here. Now this is relatively easy. As you can see here we have a nice big flower. We don’t have to get super close to it. And there’s no wind on it. There’s no direct sun or anything like that. But, as we move around the garden, you’re going to find other challenges to face. You’re going to find things like direct sunlight, which makes harsh shadows. You’ll find the wind knocking your flowers around. And none of those things are conducive to good photography. So, let’s see how we can overcome those challenges in our own backyard.

Lead photo by Abigail Faith on Unsplash

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