Tuesday, December 30, 2008

having fun with flower macros

I have an avowed lackadaisical disinterest with flower macros. I’ve seen simply too many sensational flower macros in flickr that I don’t think I can add more to this colorful form of entertainment. On occasions though, when I am idle and when other photographic subjects are not available, I give in.

kamboja macro
a kamboja (frangipani) macro in Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 400, -1.0EV


As I would find out, macros, even when using the dedicated 100mm f2.8 macro lens, presented special challenges.

Composition. To remove extraneous elements which are distracting, I filled the frame entirely with the flower. Natural colors cannot be beat anyway and the hues of the flowers could be without comparison. I focused on an interesting point, say the pistil of a bougainvillea, the inner heart of the frangipani, or the petal edges of the gerbera, and had them swim in one singular color. I also flushed the focal points off-center to ensure more dynamic interest as a full central symmetry could be too static.

bougainvillea macro
a bougainvillea macro in Selong, Lombok Timur, Indonesia
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV


Exposure . In this age of digital photography, the exposure of a photograph can be calibrated countlessly and in real time. I chimped a lot, which meant that I checked the output in the LCD of my camera immediately after taking the shots and did the adjustments thereafter. What I found out was that sometimes I had to underexpose the shot by several stops to get the right amount of light.

As in most of photography, daylight is your best friend. I could not shoot with a flash anyway as I often leave my Speedlite 380x behind when I travel. There is one indoor macro here though – the mum macro in Jakarta – and I had to jack up ISO to 1600. I was not about to setup my tripod inside the restaurant where I was having breakfast.

mum? macro
gerbera macro in Jakarta, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 1600


Manual focus. The macro lens has a pinpoint plane of focus and beyond this plane, the foreground and the background come to a blur. Autofocus then becomes a problem as the lens had trouble delineating sufficient contrast. I had to go full manual. To select accurately the focal point that I wanted, I had to move towards or away from the subject. This to me is the greatest challenge.

"bangkok" trumpet flower macro
adenium macro in Pantai Mengiat, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/500s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 100


Although I still don’t find flower macros a photographic pursuit of my choosing, I have to confess that the pictures come out appealing, especially with the collage of the four macros. A final homage to the visual power of flowers I say. T’was definitely fun, if I may complete the verbal pun.

flower fun
a collage of the macros presented below using picasa3

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i think the yellow one is a gerbera.

Farl said...

thanks for the ID! I already corrected the entry to gerbera.