Part 6: The summer shown in large format
There is no rule saying that you should only take photos of beaches of white sand in the summertime, is there? All those people passing their holidays at home or in the countryside are provided with images that are not less but sometimes even more exciting than those offered by usual holiday classics. The reason for that are those many things that are ripening and blooming in the summertime and that are small natural works of art, especially if they are viewed from a close range. This article is to give you some advices on the topic of macro photography that may be of help for you if you want to show the best of all those flowers and plants that are blooming in the summertime, for example.
Photo by Bogdan Suditu [via Flickr]
You do not necessarily have to buy an expensive macro lens in order to be able to take photos in close-up-view. If your compact camera can be put into the macro mode and allows you to make some manual settings, you will be able as well to achieve good results.
If you own a reflex camera, you may even use your standard lens and then simply try out how close you may get to an image without receiving a blurred photo of it.
For example, this photo was taken with a Canon camera and the standard lens of 18-55 mm without any equipment at all:
You may also use less expensive equipment in order to upgrade your camera a bit. For example, you may choose to buy so called intermediate rings that are screwed between lens and camera to enlarge the distance between those two components.
Another possibility you have is to buy a close-up lens that is screwed before the lens and in principle works as a magnifying glas. However, your results depend on the quality of the lens because it is an optical element. This means it is able to make your photos murky.
Designing your image
However, as important as equipment matters might be, everything concerning the design of your image is the most important thing when it comes to taking photos. There are so many possibilities to take a photo of something… for example, blossoms can be shown partially or as an element of the foreground or in contrast as one of the background! Concerning this topic, there are not many advices to give, except: Pay attention to the basic rules of design. You might remember our article about the rule of the thirds we have already posted here as well. The golden cut is calling.
Photo by Stian Danenbarger [via Flickr]
You also need to pay attention to the background of your photo. Most important: Do you want it to be still or moving? Would you like the elements of the background to be still recognizable or would you prefer them to appear blurred? If you own a reflex camera, you can control this by setting the aperture. You can set the aperture to a low value (that is to say, opened widely) in the manual mode or the Av mode; this causes the photo to have a low depth of field and merely a small layer to be shown sharply.
Photo by Stefanie Neves [via Flickr]
If you set the aperture to a higher value, the depth of field gets larger and the elements of the background can still be recognized. But there are no fixed rules. According to each situation, you should make out what fits best and try several different settings.
Photo by Allie Caulfield [via Flickr]
Situation of light
The situation of light is often difficult if you want to take photos in close-up-view. For example, if you want to take a photo of the inner part of a flower and therefore get very close to it, even the petals of a flower produce a shadow that make the photo look strange. In this situation, preconditions and problems can be slightly different depending on the place you want to take the photo – that is to say inside or outside.
Taking photos outside
If you are outside in free nature, you will find marvellous summer images everywhere. For your inspiration: Mountains, fields, fruit trees, meadows full of wild flowers, stones lying at the shore of a lake … do you still need more inspiration? Simply look for the nearest meadow, find the most beautiful blossoms there and start taking photos. And remember: You do not always have to take a photo of the blossoms only…
Photo by Francesco Pappalardo [via Flickr]
If you take photos outside around midday when the sun shis brightest, you will have the same problem that you also have with most of all images: the problem of hard shadows. At this time of day, the contrast between bright light and dark shadows is that extreme that one of those two counterparties comes off worse. In order to avoid that, you should try to find an image that is situated completely in the shadow or wait for a more suitable time of day for taking your photos (for example the golden hour). In general, it is said that taking photos on cloudy days is essentially easier. , dass einer der Bereiche zwangsläufig „absäuft“. Um dies zu verhindern sollte man sich möglichst ein Motiv suchen, das ganz im Schatten liegt oder eine bessere Tageszeit abwarten (zum Beispiel die goldene Stunde). Allgemein kann man sagen, dass das Fotografieren an bewölkten Tagen wesentlich einfacher ist.
Photo by Tim van Vliet [via Flickr]
However, if you do not have a choice, you can partly solve the problem by trying to reflect the sunlight to the dark areas of the photo (which you can simply achieve by using a tin foil or a white carton).
Photo by Radu Privantu [via Flickr]
You also have to check if it is windy at the moment you want to take the photo. If this is the case, you will need a short shutter speed (from approximately 1/200 sec.) in order to make sure the photo you have taken of the flower is not blurred by any motion. Another nice situation for taking photos is to do it directly after a shower of rain.
Photo by Vivek Jena [via Flickr]
Water drops on leaves and blossoms are always beautiful images. Of course, they can also be produced artificially with a spray bottle. ;-)
Photo by Audrey [via Flickr]
Taking photos inside
If you would like to take a photo in close-up-view inside, that is to say in a studio situation, you should give its structure a quick thought in advance. The best solution is to hang a white or black fabric in the background or to take the photo directly beside a white window. Good light will provide you with a neon tube, even if it is covered with a fabric. We can give you the same advice for taking photos inside as we gave you for taking them outside: you can reflect light with a tin foil and direct it to a place, you want it to be.
Photo by Rafael Kage [via Flickr]
Inside, it is especially advantageous to use a tripod. This enables you to use longer exposure time, if you want to achieve a higher depth of field and therefore has to set the aperture to a rather high value, for example. When it comes to matters of close-up-views, the following advices apply: You need to move the image but not the camera, in order to find the best sector of the photo. For example, it will be easier to move a flower in a vase to one side or the other than to move the camera standing on a tripod, which will loose its focus range in this area rather quickly. The best thing would be to look through the viewfinder or on the monitor of the camera and simultaneously move the image to the desired place.
You can find many great examples for photos taken in close-up-view here (but please, don´t be scared! You can take great photos even with simple means :) Enjoy taking your photos!).