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Macro photography in the garden... how and what ?

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by G. Mulder • Thursday April 11, 2013

With the garden slowly waking up to spring, it's a great time to discover plant photography and macro photography: the art of the close-up.

Photographs are a wonderful way to capture your impressions of the blossoming plants and flowers in your garden - and you don't have to be a professional to do it. A discount code from gives you savings on a range of cameras, perfect for taking beautiful plant photos.

Choosing a compact...
A compact camera or a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera: what's the right choice for you? Both types of camera have pluses and minuses. The biggest advantage of a compact is that it is a better all-round choice than a DSLR. Provided that it has a macro stand (usually included among the available accessories), you should be able to get good macro shots with it. What's more, a compact makes it really easy to take great photos. Most compact cameras can focus at a distance of around 1 centimeter: more than close enough to capture the first crocus buds or to zoom in on a bumble bee balancing on a sprig of lavender.

...Or a DSLR?
A DSLR opens up many more possibilities for macro photography - but things soon start getting a lot more complicated. A macro lens lets you take crystal-clear photos in close-up. To do this, it needs to have a magnification ratio of 1:1 or greater. This means that the subject is projected onto the picture sensor of your camera at the same size or larger. An average kit lens has a magnification of around 1:10. However, if you want to make your standard lens suitable for macro photography, there are a number of close-up filters you can buy. It's like having a magnifying glass in front of your standard lens, and is less of an investment than buying a proper macro lens.

For centuries, artists have looked for the perfect composition for a picture. One theory is the 'golden mean', whereby the subject is placed in one-third of the image. This draws viewers' attention towards the subject and creates a picture that holds their interest. Another commonly used rule is to take the shot at the subject's "eye level": for plants and flowers, that usually means getting down on your knees! Of course, you don't have to follow these rules: sometimes a flower is so beautiful that it deserves to take centre stage! In any case, it is worth thinking about how the elements of a picture fit together, and to try out different ideas. After all, plants make very patient models...

Light and depth
For the best depth of field - with a sharp subject and a hazy background - you need a lot of light, which means that a flash is essential. However, the built-in flash on your camera generally won't work for macro photography because it casts a harsh, hard light on your subject. A separate flash is ideal, but if you don't want to invest in one immediately, you can also make do with a simple reflector made out of a piece of cardboard and some aluminium foil, and use this to cast an indirect light on your subject. You can get beautiful effects by lighting the subject from the side, rather than straight on; try experimenting with backlighting to bring out beautiful silhouettes.

Depth of field is extremely important in macro photography. By using a small aperture, you can bring out the subject nice and clearly, while keeping the background soft. It's worth experimenting, starting with an f/16 aperture. For macro photography, it's best to focus by hand, and a tripod (or other photography stand) can be useful to make sure that you get your image razor-sharp. gives you discounts on a range of cameras for beautiful, close-up shots of plants and flowers.


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