Flowers for St. Valentine’s Day: Behind the Scenes!

Macro photography set up

Time for your close-up...

I mentioned in another post that I was a bit slow not to include a picture of the set up I used to get my first macro shots – so here are a couple. After doing a few more shoots I would say a light stand is borderline essential for this kind of thing because hand holding the flash would get really tiresome really quickly.

As you can see I’m using ‘cheap’ gear – that’s a battery gripped 500D, a 430EX II flash and a 50mm f/1.8 II. But just because you’re using budget equipment doesn’t mean you get cheap results – examples below… 

Macro photography flower

Straight out of the camera.

Macro photography flower close up

100% zoom of the above image. You get the idea.

That’s pretty damn good for a sub-£100 lens if you ask me, especially considering we’re well into the diffraction apertures shooting at f/22. They were imported/exported from Lightroom with default processing settings – no other adjustments made.

spray nozzle on iron used for water droplets

How did I get the water droplets on the flowers? I used the spray nozzle from my iron!

One thing I’ve learnt from my experiments is the amount of light you need to get some good exposures. To get the cleanest images possible I shoot at 100 ISO and it wasn’t unusual to have the flash at full power only inches away from the subject. You can see I’ve used a Stofen diffuser for some of the shots which I found made quite a noticeable difference in softening the shadows believe it or not (I didn’t, until I tried it). I also made myself a rudimentary reflector by wrapping aluminium foil around a magazine and placing it opposite to the flash to fill in the dark areas a little. This worked quite well because I didn’t want too much fill – I really quite liked the contrasty look and that’s what I was going for.

alternative angle of macro photography set up

With the tripods it looks like a scene from World of the Worlds... Or maybe that's just me.

So there you go… a behind the scenes look at the flower photos. I will write a full guide one day, but I’m still new to this type of photography and there’s lots of trial and error still to happen. So until then…

Thanks for reading!

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