Plant Your Photo Garden Now
With Spring underway and warm weather on the horizon, now is the time to start thinking about your next photo adventure. Think about the joy of exploring the mysteries and beauty of nature… in your own backyard. And now is the time to begin preparations.
Macro photography has the advantage of creating stunning imagery without traveling more than a few steps outside your backdoor. And since this activity requires some patience and expertise, most casual snapshooters never attempt it. That means the door is wide open for enthusiasts to create something truly magical.
There are two major components to your backyard project. First, you’re going to need the right gear. I know this aspect breaks your heart, because who in their right mind wants more photo accessories? (Well, we do.)
You’ll need a lens capable of close focus, a tripod, and some lighting. I do shoot handheld while sitting on the ground and bracing the camera with my elbows on my crossed legs, but some compositions are easier to execute when the camera is stabilized.
Keep in mind that you’ll sometimes need to stop down to f/16 or so to create a reasonable depth of field, and that often means slower shutter speeds requiring a tripod. You can offset this a bit with a fill light. I’ve taken to ring lights for macro work because they’re fast, easy, and produce great results. And because you’re so close to your subjects, the LED models work great.
I also like diffusers and reflectors. I have one diffuser that I can hold with just a single hand. So with my camera on tripod, and cable release in my right hand, I can use my left to position the diffuser for an oh-so flattering light on flowers and insects.
The other half of the equation is your subject material. A trip to the garden shop can provide you with seeds, plants, containers, water features, and other props to create an environment that produces lots of blooms and attracts all sorts of interesting creatures.
And while you’re planting those seeds and positioning the pots, think about photography. Do you have enough room to work? How is the lighting on your subjects in early morning and late afternoon? Do you have enough variety to keep you busy the entire summer?
The last thing I want to mention is variety of composition. It’s easy for us to shoot everything at 1:1 magnification once we get our rig set up. And as dramatic as those shots can be, they become even more powerful when mixed in with images of small groupings and complementary color schemes.
In other words, move in and out while building your catalog of images. By doing so, you can create a wonderful library of photographs that will last far longer than the fleeting days of summer.
To learn more about all aspects of this type of shooting, take a look at The Complete Guide to Macro and Close Up Photography by Cyrill Harnischmacher.
Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.