Are you look­ing for a week­end photo ses­sion that takes min­utes to do and cre­ates wall- wor­thy re­sults? caro­line sch­midt has just the tech­nique…

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

No light­box, no prob­lem! All you need is a sheet of pa­per and a win­dow to cap­ture these high- key blooms

WITH Spring On its way, it’s tempting to wait for wildflowers to pop up be­fore bring­ing out your macro lens. But while the days are still wet and cold, a sim­ple still- life is a good way to ease back into spring sub­jects and prac­tise core cam­era tech­niques. De­pend­ing on how small your sub­ject is, you could use a stan­dard lens but a macro lens or ex­ten­sion tubes of­fer more scope to com­pose and cap­ture de­tail that’s il­lu­mi­nated by the back­light­ing. Al­most any pale, semi­translu­cent flower can work well with this set- up – tulips, calla lilies, white anemones – but when pick­ing your sub­ject also con­sider what they look like in pro­file when against the win­dow. Flat- fac­ing flow­ers ( like or­chids), or ones with lim­ited depth, will make the most of your macro lens’s small depth- of- field at mid- aper­tures and high mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Be­ing able to see the stigma when hold­ing the flower in pro­file can also add in­ter­est and give your im­age a point of fo­cus.

1 Set- up All you need to try this tech­nique for your­self is an A3 sheet of plain white pa­per, or piece of grease­proof pa­per. This acts like a dif­fuser, soft­en­ing the win­dow light and bleach­ing out any colour casts from the out­side. Stick it to the win­dow, be­fore plac­ing your flower in front of the pa­per and com­pos­ing your shot with your cam­era on a tri­pod. There you have it: a free, in­stant light­box.

2 Se­lect your mode Set your cam­era to aper­ture- pri­or­ity mode and a low ISO to re­tain qual­ity. As your cam­era will un­der­ex­pose the scene to com­pen­sate for the back­light­ing, you’ll need to dial in at least one stop of pos­i­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion ( add more later if needed). Keep re­fer­ring to your cam­era’s his­togram to make sure it’s not weighted too far to the right and over­ex­pos­ing your high­lights.

3 pick your aper­ture De­pend­ing on the an­gle of the sub­ject to your cam­era’s sen­sor, its prox­im­ity to the lens and the type of lens you’re us­ing, pick an ap­pro­pri­ate start­ing aper­ture. As I’m us­ing a macro lens and shoot­ing at an an­gle, f/ 9 to f/ 11 gives the main sub­ject suf­fi­ciently shal­low depth- of- field for my taste, but you may want to stop down even fur­ther to f/ 13 or f/ 16 for added depth- of- field.

4 Set fo­cus Use either sin­gle- point AF or man­ual fo­cus to pin- point your fo­cal point. With low con­trast scenes, such as this, man­ual fo­cus of­ten proves the eas­i­est op­tion for con­sis­tent re­sults, es­pe­cially as your cam­era is at­tached to a tri­pod. To en­sure sharp shots, con­sider us­ing a re­mote re­lease, as phys­i­cally press­ing the shut­ter but­ton can still cause un­wanted cam­era shake on lengthy ex­po­sures.

f/ 9

f/ 13

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