Macro Beauty

| May 10, 2012
macro photo poppy flower

My Garden Poppy

Macro Photography: Garden Poppy

I have written before that I love our garden. Its beauty is amplified every year as plants mature and its natural canvas becomes more complex and vibrant. We have been very lucky this year to have had an early start to the growing season. We live at 7300ft above sea level where the conditions are more harsh than they are in town a mere 1000 feet lower. We need all the help we can get.

It’s almost Mother’s Day and these photographs remind me of a gift I gave Donna a few years ago on her special day. It was a book on gardening written by authors that live near Colorado’s front range. I bought it not only for its beautiful photography but also because it had a wealth of information about growing lavish gardens in Colorado’s harsh soils and arid climate. Fortunately, Donna is a fast learner and she created the garden you see in the photograph below. Interestingly enough, my gift to her has now become a gift for me and my camera’s lens!

colorado house garden

Orange poppies screaming for attention

The long evenings of summer present a ripe opportunity for me to relax in the garden with my camera. The scene is ever changing and the potential compositions are endless. Especially with a macro lens. While admiring the garden last night, I saw our orange poppies calling out for attention and grabbed my camera. Since the skies were overcast and the daylight was waning, I decided to use my Canon Speedlite flash to create the light I needed for the photograph. With my Canon 5D Mark III equipped with a Canon 100m f/2.8L macro lens on a tripod, I composed my shot and used wireless radiopoppers to fire my Canon 430EX flash remotely off camera. I just set the flash to manual, dialed it down to 1/64th power, and held it with my hand at various distances and angles until I got the lighting effect I wanted. I paid particular attention the the direction of the cast shadow and how it added a three dimensional look to the poppy.

As for the camera settings, the wind was blowing gently so I used a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second to freeze the detail of the poppy as the flash fired. The depth of focus is very shallow with a macro lens so I used an aperture setting of f/7.1. This allowed most of the center of the poppy to be in focus, which was my intended center of interest for the photograph.

colorado wildflower

Watch your step!

As I mentioned in my bluebird post, I have become more aware of the beauty around me since taking up photography. While walking on our property this evening, I noticed these little white wildflowers nestled in the prairie grass. Yes, those are blades of grass projecting between the petals of the flowers. In much the same way as I did with the photograph of the poppies, I grabbed my camera and used my flash to kick light onto the flower. I was careful not to use too much light, which would blow the detail out of the soft white petals. My goal was to capture the intimacy of the flower’s relationship to the grass and call to attention something that may easily go unnoticed.

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Category: Photography, Tutorials

Comments (6)

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  1. amy b. says:

    Beautiful shots… love the one of the garden along the walk. I agree… the camera helps me see. I’ve always noticed beauty but learning to use aperture and shutter speeds help interpret and capture the moment.

  2. A.Barlow says:

    Those are awesome. Nice shots. Tell your wife she did an awesome job. Oh, and I think those are California Poppy 🙂

  3. Jim Denham says:

    That poppy is just amazing – beautiful work there Lee! I haven’t found a type of photography I didn’t like, including macro and the garden is an awesome spot for it! Need me a macro lens, though! Kepp up the good stuff my friend!

  4. Great composition on the poppy.

  5. Lee says:

    Thanks everyone for stopping by to drop a comment. Also, thanks Toad for the mention in your Lightstalking series!