Macro,  Nature

In Cloudy Skies, Reach for your Macro Photography Lens

I was on my way to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to photograph the spring bird migration, but the skies were gray and the light was flat.  The weather forecast called for 2 hours of partly cloudy weather.

Trillium Bud

It looked like the sun wasn’t going to come out this morning.  I changed direction and headed for Hinckley Lake for some spring wildflower photography. 

Macro photography can often be better on a cloudy day as you don’t need to worry about the highlights in your subject being blown out.  This is especially true for white wildflowers.  I often bring along a diffuser to shade my subject and reduce the brightness of the light.  My diffuser wasn’t needed this morning.

It ended up being a nice morning for macro photography where it would have been a disappointment for bird photography with the flat light.

Cut-leaved Toothwort

Below I have listed equipment and tips for wildflower macro photography.

Equipment

  • DSLR or Compact System Camera (I used the Olympus OM-D E-M1).
  • Macro lens – 60 – 100mm works well depending on the crop factor of your camera  (I used the Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro lens with my OM-D).
  • Remote shutter release to reduce vibration when you click the shutter.
  • A tarp or knee pads.  You need to get down low for wildflowers.  The tarp will keep your pants clean and dry and the knee pads will help your knees from getting sore.
  • A sturdy tripod that can get low to the ground.  Look for one without a center column or one where the center column can be inserted sideways to allow the tripod to get low to the ground.

Wildflowers in Soft Light

Tips

  • Manual focus by zooming in on your LCD.  The cloudy weather helps to see the LCD better than in bright light.
  • Use the depth of field preview button.  This will help with your aperture setting. 
  • Shoot in aperture priority mode and shoot at multiple apertures for each shot.  Macro photography is a compromise between getting the entire subject sharp and your background out of focus.
  • Double check the focus on your subject in the preview mode by zooming in on your LCD.  Do this before moving on to your next subject.  You don’t want to go home and have a bunch of out of focus images.

Written by Martin Belan

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