Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Want some cool macro photos of flowers? Visit your local nursery

If you know me, you know that I love shooting photos. A couple of weekends ago, I had some free time and decided that it would be fun to go shoot some photos for me. No, not for a client, just something that I wanted to do for the pleasure of it. Some people relax by reading a book or hanging out at the beach. For me, I like having a camera in my hand and trying to capture nice photos. I had a new Canon 100mm macro lens sitting in it's box for the last month with no time to try it out. So I figured that this would be a great chance to see how it performed.

But the big question was, "where would I shoot some cool macro shots nearby?" I recently did a blog post about shooting macro shots in my own yard, so I wanted something different for myself and to share with you all. Then I remembered shopping for flowers with my wife 3 weeks ago, and thinking that the nursery would be a fun place for macro photography. So I grabbed the Canon 1DX, got in the car and off I went.

I started shooting photos in the shaded area of the nursery, looking for great colors. For this photo, I set the focus on the flower just left of center and framed the shot to include surrounding flowers and leaves. I like the way that the pink flowers are accented by the green leaves in the background.

One of the great things about a macro lens, is the amazingly shallow depth of field that you get. You may notice that only a small slice of this photo is in focus, and I did not shoot this at f2.8. I changed the camera setting to f5 to have a little more of the flower in focus. I will talk about this a little more later in the blog (with some visual examples).

Mother nature really is amazing. There are so many different colors and textures in these flowers. For this shot, I focused on the anther (the pollen making portion of the flower surrounding the pistil in the center) but made sure that the patterns of the pedals were front and center.

Another shot focusing in on the details of the flower. When most of us look at flowers, we look at them as a whole. Either as a bunch or a single flower, but usually in this detail. This is what I love most about macro photography, that it gives us a completely different view of the world around us. (This was also shot at f/5)

I find it interesting that, even though I am so fascinated with the color in all the flowers, this is one of my favorite images of the excursion. This photo is a good reminder that sometimes simplicity can be more interesting than overwhelming colors and patterns. Even my 16 year old daughter was drawn to this image over the others.

I know, I know, it's just a fly. But doesn't this fly look really cool perched on this flower?

And here is another insect grabbing some pollen. This is a good example of how having the narrow depth of field can make or break a photo. If everything in this photo was perfectly in focus, some viewers might not even notice the subject of the image. By narrowing the focus just to the plane of the insect, your eye is drawn where I want you to look.

Since we are talking about this subject, let me show you the difference between using a wide depth of field and a narrow depth of field. In the above image, I set the camera to shoot this image at f3.2 and I focused on the stem. I was interested in the little "hairs" coming off of the stem and wanted to highlight those. Shooting this at f3.2 does numerous things.

* It makes it so that only the "hairs" are in focus and draws your attention there
* It creates a lot of separation between the stem and the background
* The flower, although visible, becomes out of focus

Now, let's look at the same flower photographed at f16. This is a totally different view of the same flower.

Shooting this photo at f16 also does numerous things to the photo:

* We can now see more details of the surrounding plants and the nursery.
* There is much less separation between the flower and the rest of the foliage
* The flower and the stem and both perfectly in focus

Another thing to keep in mind when shooting flowers, is to shoot from different perspectives. In this photo, I went directly above the flower and shot down in to the middle.

I did the same thing here (shooting this at f6.3)

For this shot, I got down low and photographed the flower with the sky in the frame. I also moved left and right to make sure that my "main subject" was in between the two other out of focus flowers.

I photographed this at a 45 degree angle to highlight the beautiful flower, but also show the stem softly in the frame.

This last photo was another of my favorites. I really love the curves of the filaments coming out of the blossoming flower. For this shot, I got down low and shot straight on to the flower. I experimented with different apertures on this shot, because I wanted separation from the background, but I also wanted most of the flower and it's parts in focus. I preferred this photo the best, which was taken at f9. With most lenses, f9 would have most everything in focus, but remember that macro lenses exaggerate the depth of field.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, with more images from this one hour trip to the nursery, and more explanations of how I took the photos.

Oh, and for those of you in the US, happy 4th of July!


Unknown said...

Did you get permission of the shop manager? Did you offer them images in exchange for shooting rights?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff

Just wondering if you used any flash or if it was all natural light. Love your blogs mate


Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Phil - no permission needed. I will cover that on part 2 of the post. And I did not use any fill flash...all natural light.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

It's used to possible to see the EXIF information on your photos. This helped beginner photographers like me understand what aperture and shutter settings you used and whether or not you used a flash, etc. Would it be possible to bring these back.

Love your blog and the valuable information you always bring to it. Thanks

Unknown said...

Two separate Phils by the way. I posted the first one.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Sally, I have not changed anything in regards to the EXIF data. Not sure why that has changed... I will look into this for you.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

And Phil and Phil, too many Phils in one post. :)

anabolio said...

I love your flowers !!!

Onine Florist said...

Truly flowers for love ...love this post!!!