Guide Flash Techniques for Macro and Closeup Photography (Guide for Digital Photographer)

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8 Pieces of Essential Macro Photography Gear

Learn all the important aspects of shooting magical Macro and Close-Up images. Get great photos more often. Small classes with a maximum of 12 people for intimate learning. We will help you understand the terminology, equipment and accessories involved in shooting macro and close-up images. We cover everything from shooting and lighting to post-processing including a practical session at the end of the day. We start the day with a complete overview of Macro Photography, from terminology to specialist equipment, and advanced lighting and shooting techniques.

We finish the day with a practical session where you get to put into practice what you have learnt. What our students say about us…. Key aspects The most important aspects covered in the Macro Photography Course:. What exactly is the difference between close-up and macro, life-size and photography? Focus techniques for macro and close-up photography to ensure sharp images. Using mirrors to create multiple light set-ups. Who is this course for? Requirements A digital SLR or mirrorless camera, with creative or advanced camera modes like manual, or aperture priority.

You should know the basic aspects of your camera, i. Cost R1 per person. The point is this: just get out there and do it. Flowers are such beautiful things and some are so intricately detailed that you will want to shoot as close as possible. The best choice for this would be to use a dedicated macro lens on your camera. A macro lens will allow you to get really close and still be able to focus on the flower. In his article Best Macro Lenses: Unbiased Review of 8 Lenses , Jim reviews three dedicated macro lenses to consider, but also takes a look at some much less expensive alternatives that could provide you with great results.

Be sure to watch the video, too! Beware that when shooting up close, the depth of field will be razor thin, and could present some challenges for getting enough of the flower in focus. Another method that I have used with some success is to back up a little, taking the picture a greater distance from the flower, then cropping the image in post-processing to provide a closer view. With the amount of megapixels at our disposal in modern cameras, it is possible to crop pretty aggressively and still get a high quality image.

A tripod may not always be necessary when shooting flowers, but if you shoot macro or close-up images, or try focus stacking techniques, you will need to mount the camera and lens on a very steady base. When creating these types of shots, you will likely be near the minimum focus distance of your lens, zoomed in close, and have a very thin depth of field. Hand-holding the camera may work, but even in good lighting conditions you could end up with a lot of blurry photos due to camera shake. One advantage of using a tripod is that it will force you to slow down and take your time setting up the best compositions for the shot.

The Complete Guide to Macro Photography: 137 Tips

Furthermore, using a wired cable shutter release or wireless trigger will prevent the need to touch the camera to take the picture, possibly causing vibration and camera movement. Just be sure to set the timer for two seconds instead of the default 10 seconds or each shot will feel like an eternity to make. This tip will apply primarily when you set up your camera on a tripod.

The live view function on your camera is a very useful tool to help you compose the image and to establish critical focus. Once you get the desired composition, zoom in on the screen to the area you want to focus on and switch to manual focus on the lens. This technique will be especially helpful when shooting macro or close-up images of flowers. Use the focus ring on your lens to manually focus on the flower, then take the shot. When reviewing the shot, be sure to zoom in on the LCD to make sure the image is tack sharp. It seems that whenever I decide to go out shooting flowers, and particularly macro or close-up shots, the wind is invariably blowing.

Even the slightest breeze can really make these types of shots a real challenge.


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It may seem like a calm day, but you will be surprised how much a flower will move, especially right when you want to take the shot. Any number of things could be used for this, such as a reflector, diffuser, a small board, or even an umbrella. Image via Amazon—used within bounds of Improve Photography's agreement with Amazon. A Plamp, or plant clamp , is essentially two clamps at either end of an articulating arm.

The first thing you may ask yourself is if you could make this simple device on your own for much less money, and the answer is a resounding yes. Just a few basic items from the hardware store, or you may already have them in your garage right now, is all you will need. This gadget is something that you will find many uses for, especially when shooting flowers. Clamp one end to a tripod leg or to a small tree nearby and the other end to the stem of the flower to hold it steady. Because the plamp is made using a flexible wire, it can be bent and moved in a variety of directions to position your flower however you want.

Maybe you want the flower at a slightly different angle or in front of a more pleasing background. In addition to holding the plant steady, the plamp can come in handy for a variety of things. You may want to make more than one of these, as one could hold the flower in place and a second one could be used to hold a small reflector or diffuser, or even to hold distracting elements out of the frame. When shooting close-up or macro photography, the depth of field can be so thin that it is virtually impossible to get enough of the subject in focus in a single image.

This is especially true of flowers, which come in so many different shapes and sizes, and with so many little details that need to be in focus to make the image more interesting. One technique employed by macro photographers to deal with this challenging situation is the use of focus stacking. Just like the name implies, focus stacking is the process of taking several images of the flower, with each image focused on a slightly different part of the flower, then stacking all the images together to create a single image that is mostly or completely in focus.

This technique requires a tripod to keep the camera and lens totally stationary read: rock solid as the focal point is changed and each of the images are taken. Once all these images are captured, they are imported into Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or focus stacking software, such as Helicon Focus or Zerene Stacker. The images are aligned and the in-focus areas of each of the images are blended together into a single image with a seemingly amazing depth of field. This is a great way to show incredible detail in a flower and create a very dynamic and interesting image.

Sometimes showing more of the surroundings will make for a more interesting and engaging image. Or maybe there are some wildflowers growing next to a stream and you want to include some of the water to provide context for the image. Sometimes, I find myself getting so caught up in focusing on the details that I forget to step back and just look at the bigger picture.

Details are great, but it may be a good idea to include some images that will tell more of the story.

So take a few steps back or put a wide-angle lens on your camera and take in more of the scene. As a general rule, the best light is going to be in the morning right before and shortly after sunrise and in the evening shortly before and after sunset. In these cases, you may need to add some of your own light to really make your flower images pop.

One way that you might be able to accomplish this is by using a reflector to direct more light onto the subject. Any type of reflective material could work, such as a white sheet of foam core or even a piece of white poster board. A 5-in-1 reflector is a relatively inexpensive solution that works great for this type of photography. These reflectors are typically round and have reversible sheet that is black on one side and white on the other, then when turned inside out, is silver on one side and gold on the other.

Sandwiched in the middle is a diffusion disc that can be used in many ways as well.

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Depending on your situation, you can use the gold side to provide warmer light or the silver side for a cooler image. There are lots of uses for this versatile and indispensable tool and it folds up to make it easy to carry with you. This could be a good time to break out the flash and see what can be created. It may be best to get the flash off the camera using remote triggers to provide more depth and dimension to the image. Plus, just a little kiss of light may be all you need to really make that image sing, so start out with the flash at low power and adjust as necessary. C heck out these great articles and for more detailed information on using flash.

Exposure Tips and Go-To Camera Settings for Macro Photography

And here is more information about recommended flash gear. As the title of this tip implies, just add water. However, if you need to add your own, a small spray bottle will suffice. Just spritz a little bit of water on the flower, and then take your best shot. This water will accomplish three things for you in preparation for some great images. First, the flower may be dusty and the water will clean it off. Secondly, the water will bead up on the flower petals and other flower parts and just makes the image much more interesting.

Finally, the flower will glisten as light is reflected off the sheen of water and make it appear more vibrant in your images. This will be done at night or maybe inside in a dark room if the flower can be moved inside. First, set up the camera and lens on a steady tripod and use the live view function to compose the shot and focus on the flower. Make sure you have a way to trigger the shutter without touching the camera, either using a cable release or remote trigger or the self-timer on the camera.

Then, open the shutter to begin the exposure. Once the shutter is open, use a small flashlight to paint parts of the flower. After the shutter closes, review the image on the LCD to see what you created. It is not necessary to always compose your flower images with the whole flower in the shot. Try something different and more creative. Only show a small part of the flower; perhaps only a petal or part of a petal, the stamen, or some other part of the flower. Abstract images of this nature evoke a sense of mystery and curiosity.

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The viewer will see what is in the image and try to piece together the rest in their imagination. Try using the wind to your advantage in making a more creative image of the flowers. With the camera set up on a tripod, stop down the aperture to achieve a relatively slow shutter speed.