Tips and tutorials

10 tips to shoot macro droplets on flowers

 

Macro droplet on a blue flower

 

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.

 

macro drops on yellow flower

 

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.

 

dew drops on blue flower

 

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.

Macro  drop on yellow rose

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.

Macro drop green leaf

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.

 

Macro drops on red rose

Bonus tip!

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.

 

 

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Vidhu Soman

Hi, I am Vidhu Soman, Editor of Shutterstoppers. I have been doing photography since 2010, and I co-founded shutterstoppers community in 2012. I love photography, writing, travelling, and reading. If you wish to contact me, send a mail using our contact form.

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16 Comments

  1. Hi great info on the droplets my question is I have managed to do the droplets ok but I’m doing them on a leaf focusing on a flower in the background I can’t seem to get it right can you give or have you got any info or video on how to best achieve this type of photography?
    I use a Nikon D5300, Sigma 105mm macro lens, on a tripod, stabilization off & use a remote shutter release.
    Basically looking for info on distance between camera to leaf & leaf to flower.
    I have photos that I could send you if needs be.
    Many thanks for any info etc.
    Regards
    Barry Simmons

    1. Hello, Barry,

      I would like to see your photos to give an accurate answer. What did go wrong?

      With my experience, I can say this:

      The distance between camera and the leaf, and the leaf and flower depends on what you need to achieve. Since you are using a macro lens, keeping it too close to the leaf would make the area of focus small (shallow depth of field). So if you are trying to capture the flower in the drop, you need to use a narrow aperture.

      The best way to find an optimum distance is to switch to live view and change the distances until you see your desired effect.

      Please attach your images in the comment.

      1. Vidhu nothing heard for sometime now, posts not moderated. Something wrong, are you not seeing my posts?
        Regards
        Barry

  2. Attachment

    Hi Vidhi, thank you so much for yr already helpful reply, I’ve attached photos of which I spoke of.
    Not so much how to take the photos but how to improve on the end result for example to show nothing outside of the flower ie the sky etc.
    The photos are straight out of the camera. Just one photo allowed?
    Many thanks
    Barry

    1. How long does this normally take “Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved”?
      I have a few posts waiting for this.
      Thanks
      Barry

  3. Attachment

    Hi Vidhi, thanks for your already helpful reply. Attached a photo as requested, it’s really how can I improve on the end result ie not get the light reflection as well but include the whole of the flower not just a bit of it.
    However any constructive comments are welcome.
    Thanks again
    Barry

    1. HI, Barry

      I am sorry for the delayed response. And thanks for posting your images.

      This is what I think about your photos:

      You cannot include the whole flower and avoid regions around the flower at the same time.
      I think what you need is to fill the background with the flower while capturing the whole flower in the droplets, right?
      You need a zoom lens or a longer focal length lens to completely cover the background. Remember, long focal length (above 100mm) magnifies the background elements and diminishes the foreground elements (wide angle does the opposite).

      Also, you need to adjust the distance between the flower and the droplets. I can’t tell you the exact distance since it depends on the aperture, size of the flower, and the distance between the droplets and the camera. I suggest you to switch to live view mode of your camera and adjust the distance until you see the desired effect. From the depth of field, I can see that you need to make it more shallow. Use a longer focal length and a wide aperture for this.

      Quality of light is another issue. Your light source is hard light, hence the light reflection on the droplets and reflective surface (leaf). One of the solutions is to diffuse the light and managing a distance between the light and the object. Add a lightbox to diffuse the light and keep it far enough from the object to avoid deep shadows and reflections. Try to add another light source to illuminate the background.

  4. Attachment

    Another pic, didn’t realize the first one had been posted it just disappeared all of a sudden.
    Barry

  5. Attachment

    Hi Vinhu, I wondered if you have had time to checkout my refraction flower pics yet? Another pic attached.
    Barry

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