Yesterday, I woke up to a drizzly, overcast morning… and I couldn’t stop smiling. The fact is, I love days like that. They are absolutely ripe with opportunity. I grabbed my 180mm macro lens, and went out to find an interesting subject.
My neighbors saw me out shooting and asked if I was waiting for the right light – they were sure I wasn’t going to get it… but I already had what I wanted. The clouds provided a perfect, natural diffuser – and the wet leaves acted as natural reflectors… bouncing and scattering light everywhere. The drizzle gave me something even better – tiny droplets that turned my pretty backyard into a photographers dream. And when leaves get wet, they seem to glow with a rich, fresh green that provides a perfect backdrop.
So, I was in heaven. I discovered a thousand droplets on a spider web – evenly spaced and glowing against a backdrop of green leaves and pink flowers. I found a copper-colored ant navigating a wilderness of miniature flowers covered in tiny liquid balls. And then I saw this little droplet clinging to the curling stamen of a purple flower – bits of yellow pollen floating inside… and I’d found my subject.
I set up my Induro Tripod down low to the ground – carefully adjusting it’s legs and my lens until the flower and it’s stamen were where I wanted them in my frame. I nudged the legs of the tripod slightly to get the composition just right (sometimes that’s easier than adjusting the ball head when you are working with a tiny subject like this one.) I paid close attention to my background, because I wanted a perfectly smooth, green without distractions. I had to shift a couple of flowers out of the frame before I was happy with my composition.
The light was already exactly what I wanted, so my final challenge was in getting the focus just right. A slight breeze kept my flower dancing… so I increased my ISO to 640 to get a shutter speed of 1/160s at f6.3. Then, I used the live view feature to zoom in on that tiny droplet and set my focus as accurately as possible. I used mirror lock-up and a two-second timed delay so that I could release the shutter and then remove my hands from the camera to allow it to remain completely steady. I still had to take a few shots before I captured a perfectly sharp image – the wind was a factor I couldn’t control – but in the end, I got exactly what I wanted. A simple image with rich, complimentary colors and delicate details… exactly what I’d hoped for on this perfect, drizzly day.