Natural Light with Macro Photography

Many of us who prefer to shoot handheld are also skewed to use natural light in our images. This article shows some examples of natural light with macro photography. All of the images in this article were captured handheld at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RGB) in Burlington Ontario. I used the Handheld Hi Res mode (HHHR) with my Olympus OM-D E-M1X for all of the photographs in this posting.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 390 mm

When looking for subject blossoms when shooting macro photography I typically first look for interesting natural light. I liked the side lighting in the above image as it helped to bring out some of the subtle details in the white and ruby coloured petals.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 295 mm

Here we have some nice contrast between the feature blossom catching some light, while the background stayed shaded.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 355 mm

There was a sufficient amount of diffused light in this scene to give me some nice contrast. All of the images in this article were captured under very overcast conditions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/250, ISO-1250, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 635 mm

Flower macro photography is best done under diffused light as it makes colours richer and avoids harsh shadows.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/400, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 270 mm

Sometimes our eyes will catch just a glimpse of a highlight on the tip of a blossom. This can make for an interesting compositions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/400, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 225 mm

While this type of lighting can work with more complex images, I prefer the simple approach.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 280 mm

Even rather mundane looking subjects can make for good macro subjects if the lighting helps to highlight details, or creates some good contrast in the composition.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/250, ISO-4000, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 270 mm

I like to find very simple colour pallets. These can give photographs a quiet and calm feeling.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/320, ISO-3200, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 300 mm

Finding blossoms against dark backgrounds almost always results in a decent macro image.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 255 mm

Backlighting, even if only partial, is ideal to highlight small filaments on the edges of a petal.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 275 mm

The real beauty of a macro photograph is always found in the smallest of details. Contrast and monochromatic backgrounds often add to the feeling in a macro image.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/400, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 270 mm

Of all of the images I captured during my two hour visit at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the one above was my favourite. I love how the natural light makes the details along the petal edges pop. The next time you wake up to a dull overcast day… celebrate! Grab your camera and macro lens, or put some extension tubes in your bag. Then… look for light!

Technical Note:
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 265 mm

How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to tom@tomstirr.com through PayPal.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store.

Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.

Article and images are Copyright 2020 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Natural Light with Macro Photography”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *