3 Highly Effective Ideas for Macro Photography

Landscape photography is all about the exploration for great images both large and small. Setting out on long hikes that eventually lead you to vast overlooks is truly an exhilarating experience. However, one of the more creative and enjoyable experiences in landscape photography is photographing macro natural designs. Instead of grueling inclines that lead you to massive vistas, you have the ability to slow down and construct small scenes that most people pass by.

So, how do you construct an interesting macro natural design photo? I’ve listed a few ideas to help you slow down and think creatively about the smaller scenes in nature.

Look For Repetition in Shapes and Designs

Example of Repetitive Patterns in Macro Photography

Example of Repetitive Patterns in Macro Photography – A vibrant agave plant during sunset light.

One of the most effective ways of using macro natural designs is to look for designs themselves. Nature is full of various shapes and patterns that you can use to create a great photograph. One design is great, but when you see the same thing repeating multiple times in a small scene, it’s usually worth shooting. Repetition has the ability to grab people’s attention almost to the effect of being hypnotized by a spinning wheel.

When you are photographing similar shapes and designs in a repeating pattern, try to compose a photograph that includes the idea of repetition but not so far back that you get space on the edges or corners of your frame. This technique works really well with desert plants, mosses, succulents, and leaves.

Groups Always Work

Macro Photography example of a grouping: Giant claret cup blossoms in full bloom.

Macro Photography example of a grouping: Giant claret cup blossoms in full bloom.

As humans, we naturally gravitate towards groups. Why not use that to your advantage in your photography? Slowly make your way through a landscape looking for ways you can photograph multiple macro objects within the same frame.

This usually works best when you find pairs of objects or groups of three. Now, this doesn’t limit you to only using two or three subjects in your photo. Instead, it can expand your creativity by including multiple pairs of subjects into the same frame. It’s pretty typical to see a flower blooming on a cactus (and macro shots of those flowers can be nice to look at), but your photograph improves drastically when you find multiple pairs of the same kind of flower that are blooming in multiple pairs that make a group.

Search For Rich Color and Contrast

Macro photography example of light and contrast, Cabbage Head Agave.

Macro photography example of light and contrast, Cabbage Head Agave.

Vibrant colors in nature have the ability to capture people’s attention. Think about a deep, rich blue sky or a mountainside of peak fall foliage glowing with yellows, oranges, and reds. Some of the most beautiful landscape scenes consist of amazing color.

Your small scenes can have rich colors too. Try to find macro objects that radiate one color, but with multiple tones of that color. Compose your photo to include pastel tones all the way down to lush shadow tones and into black. When you’re able to find these small scenes, it creates an easy flow of tremendous contrast, going from lights to darks in a gradual fade.

To do this, you must shoot when there is soft light that creates soft shadows. There are a couple ways of doing this. You can either go out during sunrise, sunset, or cloudy conditions when the light isn’t harsh, or you can use your body or backpack to shield any harsh light that’s being cast on your macro scene.

Like I said earlier, small scenes can be some of the most fun to photograph. You can meander through paths looking for small plants, cacti, leaves, and flowers only to find that you’ve actually spent several hours of your day on your knees looking at the ground. This kind of technique can take some practice, so don’t be discouraged if you come back home and don’t like any of your photos once they’re on your computer screen. Learn from what you don’t like and go try again.

I recommend practicing in accessible locations. If you have a backyard that is well landscaped, spend some time looking for photos you could shoot. If that’s not an option, look for some botanical gardens that may be near your home. Botanical gardens are a great place to perfect your skills because they have a wide assortment of plants in many shapes and colors and are manicured to perfection.

About Author David Johnston