04.25.21: Daylily, up close

Close-up of a daylily, Hilliard, Ohio.

Close-up of a daylily, Hilliard, Ohio.

A yellow-on-yellow scene in natural light

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jul 1, 2005 3:45 PM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro 
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • Aperture: f/13
  • Shutter: 1/160 second
  • ISO: 200

The majority of photographs in my collection are of birds or sports, where I use a very long lens to make a distant subject fill the frame, or travel, where I use a very short lens to capture a wide area of the scene. But I also enjoy macro (or close-up) photography, where I use a lens with close-focusing capability to make small objects fill the frame.

The basic techniques are the same for macro photography and for shooting distant objects: composing the image so the viewer’s eye is pulled to the subject, focusing on the most important part of the image, exposing properly so colors and details look natural.

But macro photography has its own set of challenges.

For instance, shooting a flower outdoors (like this daylily I shot in our backyard) brings nature’s elements into the equation. The slightest breeze will move the subject and wreck the exposure. Moving a flower a fraction of an inch when the camera is inches away would be like a bird moving 10 feet when the camera is 30 feet away.

Lighting is also an issue. This daylily was shot in late afternoon in natural light, but I got lucky. Many times I end up using one or more flash units for macro shots. Positioning a flash unit when the camera is inches from the subject is a challenge.

Still, shooting macro images is a nice change of pace from my wildlife shots.

For this daylily photo I focused on the end of the stamen and used a small aperture (f/13) to increase the depth of field, keeping the stamens and the petals to the right focus. I used a tripod to stabilize the camera.

The sunlight from the right and the defocused petals in the background at left help separate the yellow stamen from the yellow petals.

For this daylily photo I focused on the end of the stamen and used a small aperture (f/13) to increase the depth of field, keeping the stamens and the petals to the right focus.