Monday, April 27, 2009


I spent more time shooting with my new 180mm macro than with my wide angle lens on this trip. The Smoky Mountains are beautiful, and we did get some nice evening and morning shots - but we spent some time during the day searching out wildflowers for macro photography. We were there at exactly the right time. Trillium grows everywhere at the lower altitudes - white, pink, and yellow varieties. We also found Columbine, Buttercups, Irises, and a thousand flowers I can't name. That's Wild Columbine (aquilegia canadensis) on the right and Yellow Trillium (trillium luyeum) below.
I could have been perfectly happy to spend another week wandering through the woods. :)

The trick with shooting flowers is to find an angle that allows you to capture the flower with green leaves in the background. Most of the time, the flowers are pretty close to the ground, so unless you are shooting from above, you need to get very close to the ground. Use a tripod that can go as low as possible, and lie down if you need to. Don't mind the bugs - as my mother always said... "They're more afraid of you than you are of them." (Of course, all bets are off if the bug has eight legs.)

A shallow depth of field blurs the background, and lets the flower stand out. The center of the flower should be in perfect focus - that's not as easy as you think. :) Shoot on a windless day if possible - or wait for a calm moment. You'll likely need to increase your ISO to reduce your shutter speed as much as possible... but remember that with a high ISO, you'll get more noise, so try not to go too high. Use a translucent filter (or a sheet) to soften direct light - or shoot in the shade for soft, even lighting. Overcast days are perfect for flower photography.

Try to keep distracting elements out of the frame - the eye goes to the brightest spot in an image, so make sure the brightest spot is your flower.

Jay and I will be presenting at the Akron Camera Club on Wednesday this week. We are putting the finishing touches on the presentation today. It should be fun!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Varina.

Wonderful macros!
I really love your way of composition...gets the best out of the wildflowers.

I`m in a macro mode myself with all the blue skies lately, not much room for my kind of landscapes.
You can see my latest macros at my blog: if you have the time.

Good luck on the presentation.

Seung Kye

April 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Varina Patel said...

Thanks, Seung Kye. :) I left a couple of comments on your blog - I love this kind of photography. Actually - my love affair with macro photography has lasted much longer than my love for landscapes. I have been dreaming about good macro lenses since I was about 14 years old. :) This is my first really good macro lens - so I'm like a kid in a candy store. I'm loving it.

Have a great day!

April 28, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

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