This week I wanted to mix it up a little bit and try practicing macro work again. Years ago I bought a Quantaray 50mm macro, and from time to time I like to photograph flowers and bugs up close. My parents work very hard on their gardens so the backyard is an absolute playground for someone who wants to do flower-scapes. I grabbed my gear and headed out to the backyard Sunday afternoon.
Shooting at 50mm for subjects like this means getting the lens less than an inch or two from the subject quite often, which means you block out a lot of natural light. To compensate for this I used my flash off camera on a long cable. This allows me to use the flash hand-held, giving me the flexibility to orientate it any way I needed. I kept the camera on my Manfrotto tripod with the center column locked perpendicular to the legs, swinging the camera out over the flowers instead of trying to make it work as a traditional tripod.
I started with some yellow daisies, but nothing was quite grabbing me. I wanted to get in extremely close and hopefully wind up with a photo that could be printed and framed. I made my way around the garden, eventually setting up directly above a large pot full of what I believe are Meadow Saxifrage. They couldn't have been more than an inch across, so it was going to be difficult to say the least. I struggled trying not to blow out the petals with the flash while getting the exposure of the stamen correct, finally settling on 1/125th at 2.8, with the flash stopped down to 1/32nd power with a puffer defuser, held just to the right of the lens. At 2.8 this close the depth of field was incredibly shallow - the stamen are sharp, as well as the edge of the right most petal, with a little bit of details on each petal at the center. Two stems directly underneath add just the right touch to break up what would have been a dull background.