This article discusses macro style choices as they apply to some specific photographs recently created at the Floral Showhouse in Niagara Falls. Our photographic style begins with how each of us see the world around us. What attracts our eye. What intrigues us. Where we find visual meaning in our experience of life. Then we make decisions on how to bring the images that we see in our minds to life through our photography.
All of the photographs featured in this article were captured handheld using an M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens and in-camera focus stacking. Individual photographs were created by my camera combining a series of 10 images using a focus differential of 3. All photographs were captured in available light without the use of flash.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
As I walked by the blossom in the image above, I was intrigued by its shape and the cascading nature of its petals. Rather than photograph it at an angle I chose a head-on view as it gave me the best display of petals. This shape also nicely fit the 4 X 3 format of my camera’s sensor.
I underexposed the blossom somewhat to help ensure deeper, richer colours. I did very little in post with the resulting focus stacked jpeg, other than using the “Levels” adjustment in PhotoShop to further darken the background and also bring a bit more brightness and ‘snap’ to the petals.
I loved the strong right to left visual flow of the blossom above. I used ‘rule of thirds’ composition technique to position the centre of the bud to the right hand side of the composition, and slightly above the vertical mid-point of the frame. This helped enhance the overall visual flow of the blossom. I left the understated, partial blossom in the bottom right corner to act as a colour anchor and provide a bit more colour balance to the composition. If this detail would have been brighter it would have been visually distracting and I would have removed it in post.
I allowed some of the individual petals to bleed off the top and bottom edges to help pull a viewer’s eye into the centre of the flower bud. Almost nothing was done to this image in post other than adding a tiny bit more contrast and a minor amount of structure in the Nik Collection.
I captured this image from a side view so I could accentuate the left to right downward eye flow of the blossom. The edge of the leaf and the out-of-focus highlight that flow into the bottom right of the composition act as a subtle corner exit.
I liked the slight yellowish hue that is visible at the top edge of the photograph. To my eye it helps define the bright yellow anthers of the flower, and appears to be the source of some natural light illuminating the flower.
Part of my macro photography style is to get in close to subjects in such a way that I can leverage contrast and simplicity whenever possible. I used ‘rule of thirds’ composition technique to position the centre of the blossom on the left hand side of the frame. I purposely did not allow any of the petals to bleed off the frame as this helped to maximize the contrast in the composition.
Although I seldom do spot adjustments to most of my images, macro photography tends to be the exception. With the image above I used the ‘burn’ tool in PhotoShop to eliminate some faint details on the right hand side of the photograph. This helped to enhance contrast and give the image additional drama.
The composition above is another example where I did a bit of burning with PhotoShop to remove some hints of details on the left hand side of the image. I purposely left some of the purple and green hues underneath the pair of blossoms as this helped to ‘lift’ them visually and provide a hint of 3-D effect.
As I’ve been experimenting with in-camera focus stacking I’ve kept my settings the same, i.e. 10 images with a focus differential of 3. This helps my old, porous brain learn how to use this feature under different situations. 🙂
With the photograph above it was important that the petals in the foreground were out-of-focus. Otherwise they would have competed for viewer attention with the centre area of the flower. This would have caused some visual confusion. As a result I chose a focusing point deeper in the image.
From an eye flow perspective I wanted everything to flow in towards the centre. To help accomplish this I used image bleeds on all four edges. Our eyes typically ignore out-of-focus areas in a photograph, so the out-of-focus petals in the foreground are skipped over visually.
The photograph above has a strong left to right eye flow. To accentuate this flow I used image bleeds on the left side and on the bottom edge. These bleeds help to force a viewer’s eye up and to the right, towards the centre of the flower.
From a creative standpoint I wanted to take advantage of the strong eye flow created by the overlapping rows of petals on the right hand side. To accomplish that I captured this photograph using a front quarter view.
To maximize contrast I did some burning to eliminate some subdued details that had been visible on the right hand side of the composition.
I also did some burning with the image above to darken the background to enhance the contrast in the composition. In this case I left a hint of the background still visible to provide some context. I also recognized my own limitations and interests in post as I would not have considered doing any masking with this image.
The more that I’ve been using my E-M1X’s in-camera focus stacking feature, the more impressed I’ve become. Since the output of this technology is a jpeg file I originally didn’t pay much attention to in-camera focus stacking.
This was a mistake on my part. I’ve found that it is very easy to use in-camera focus-stacking handheld, which suits my shooting style perfectly. The jpegs are of high quality. Plus, if I need to tweak them in post they respond well and only need a modicum of work. Suffice to say that I plan to use in-camera focus stacking more in the future.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced using in-camera focus stacking technology. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures that have been resized for web use. This is the 1,089th article published on this website since its original inception.
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