Hydrangea: Capturing its Beauty

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When I pick up my camera to take a photo it is because a scene catches my eye – there is something special about it, an inherent beauty. I enjoy macro photography because the parts frequently define, or help me portray, that something special. Occasionally I am disappointed in my macro shots; and when I have gone back to photograph the whole I am happier with the results. Freeman Patterson (in his bookย Photography of Natural Things) says we sometimes need to include the context of natural things in order to show its beauty. I’m slowly learning when I can get up close and personal and when I have to step back to include the bigger picture.

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This post is about getting up close and personal. I bought a lime green hydrangea bouquet the other day and I took it outside yesterday, where the light is better. I wanted to experiment with my 18-200 mm lens and a 36 mm extension tube.

My passion for macro photography is probably a result of my love of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of flowers. I saw some of her originals and they took my breath away. My macro photography is my feeble attempt to create the same type of beauty with my camera. Do I set my bar high, or what?

I am really excited with the results. I did a little cropping on a few of the photos and very little post-processing, mostly increasing exposure.

I am thinking about what I can do differently next time. I haven’t used a tripod because I find I have to frequently move the camera in and out, instead of using the telephoto or auto focus, in order to get within focus range. My images will be sharper when I figured that out. I also am finding that extension tubes need a lot more light. I’m going to try this lens/tube combination in morning or late afternoon sun to decrease noise.

If you have used extension tubes, I would love to hear what worked for you. If you have written a post, you can leave a link in the comments.

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22 Comments »

  1. Pat, you definitely lose light with extension tubes, and depending on how many you are using, it can be a substantial amount. With macro, a tripod is almost a necessity, even though it really is quite a bit of work, specifically for the reason you speak of here. One thing you may want to look into are macro rails (for your tripod). With the touch of a knob you can really fine tune your focus. They come in a range of prices, from very ridiculous to very reasonable.

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  2. Gorgeous lighting. Macro photography is tough. I’m not a tripod gal myself – but if I’m doing macro photos inside the house – I use a table top tripod. In 2012 – I did a 365 project and out of that learned that I love macro photography too. Probably because in my former job – I enjoyed microscopic work – love all the detail that comes out of macro. I finally splurged about a year ago and bought a good dedicated macro lens – however – the extension tubes are great as well because you can easily put them in a purse or pocket and turn most lenses into a close up lens – which sometimes beats carrying an extra lens around

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Nora. It is great to hear what other photographers do because there is a such a range of “acceptable” practice.

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