Droplets are very common especially in monsoon periods that play very prominent subject for macro photographers. Do you think we must have a soft box, external flash and other costly accessories to shoot them? No, they all are not needed but a Macro tripod and macro lens or reverse macro ring adapter are required to explore them. I am using my trusty canon 500D with Tamron 90mm f/2.8Di macro lens. You do not need this specific camera or lens, but this is just what I am using. Here are some tips to help you get started to shoot macro droplets on flowers.
10 Tips to Shoot Macro Droplets on Flowers
Tip #1: Use a tripod
For the basic set-up, I used a macro tripod, and remember, if you use a tripod with an IS (Image Stabilization) lens, turn off the IS. When you are on a tripod, the very act of the IS mechanism “doing its thing” can actually cause minute vibrations, and in a situation like this where you are zooming in very closely on a very small object, that tiny movement can make or break your sharpness. It also helps to shoot the dew if your tripod can get low to the ground.
Tip #2: Use live view mode
Turning on Live view may help you to predict the lighting according to the exposure you set. Use manual focus while shooting the drops.
Tip #3: Choose the right exposure settings
Play with the ISO and aperture to get your exposure, sharpness, and background blur just how you want it. Low ISO leads to very crisp image and also it helps to increase the sharpness in post processing if it is required.
Tip #4: Control/modify the light
Flash is not needed to shoot the droplets, but it’s enough to shoot in ambient light. It’s too challenging to shoot in harsh lighting. At that time, light colored umbrella (cream color or white) should be placed near the flower to diffuse the lighting, or flower can be pinned in cheap thermocol or flower vase, and then place it in bright shade to avoid the harsh lighting.
Tip #5: Create drops
Add a bit of sugar to the water and fill in sprayer .The drops will attach itself more firmly even on slippery surface. Using glycerine in place of water drops is effective. It attaches more strongly to surfaces and it will not get dried soon. Don’t wait for the rain, but bring your own! A spray bottle can work wonders.
Tip #6: Plan your shot
You have to take control and arrange the scene as necessary and windless day is preferred to shoot the drops. Make sure that drops should be even by spraying properly.
Tip #7: Use an external flash to get lens flare
Sometimes you may get lens flare on either side of the drops which adds allure when sunlight is directly hitting the droplets OR an external flash may help to get the lens flare.
Tip#8: Control the depth of field
In case of shooting dew, use small aperture to get image inside the dew easily otherwise large aperture will result very dreamy image. While using Large aperture, drops should be encountered in background that leads to bokeh effect.
Tip #9: Focus stacking for better depth of field
Sometimes, you will get situation to use wide aperture in low lighting that will focus in small area and so “stacking” may help to improve them in post processing.
Tip #10: Improve the image in Post processing
- Increase the sharpness in the particular area of the flower and adjust the contrast according to the lighting
- Cropping is required to highlight the image inside the drop.
- Use Gaussian blur to bring dreamy mood if it’s required.
Most importantly, have fun! I hope this article will help you to shoot macro drops without an external flash. You have to try different angle that bring different perspective and arrangement of drops on flower petals.