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“The best way out is always through.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Practice Your Macro Photography on House Plants

About this time of year I start to really miss my garden and laying on the warm ground in the sun taking close-up photos of my garden plants. One way that I get past this angst is to keep a lot of winter-flowering houseplants in the house so that I have something colorful to photograph and so that I can keep my macro skills honed.

Virtually all digital cameras are very good at close-up photography and most even have a special macro mode for working very close. In fact, many digital point-and-shoot cameras are just as good at close-up photography as much more sophisticated cameras. I have an Olympus camera that will focus down to about a half-inch from the lens!

The key issues in indoor macro photography are lighting and keeping the camera steady. While I sometimes resort to using the built-in flash (as I did for the shot of the clivia miniata shown here), I much prefer the soft light of a north-facing window. The plants may prefer to live in another window, but you can easily move them to whatever window works best for lighting. You can also use a table lamp and often the shade will soften the light nicely. But be sure you set the white balance to "tungsten" so that you don't get an overly-warm color shift.

Keeping the camera steady is especially important in macro work since tiny motions are magnified. If you have a tripod, use it. If not, use the arm of a chair or rest your elbows on a table to keep the camera steady. Steadiness is less of a problem with flash since the flash duration is extremely short and prevents camera jiggle. If your camera has an anti-shake feature, that's great too.

Most flower blossoms last a short time but your prints can keep the flowers alive all winter long!

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