Well, we thought Spring was just around the corner, to be rudely corrected by the Beast from the East (I mean really, what a name!) and the subsequent mound of snow we found ourselves fighting to get out of. I can’t be the only one who runs outside to ‘rescue’ the garden, can I? I’ve spent the last few weeks monitoring the progress of our native snowdrops in one of my favourite rural locations (read my blog post about where you should photograph in the Home Counties here), so assuming they’ve not been completely flattened by our heavy snowfall and frosty starts, you’ll be wanting to get out and photograph them too. Here are a few tips for how to do just that.
In my various trips to capture the best snowdrops I utilised several different pieces of kit, aiming to see which was the most ideal combination. Among this was: Joby GorillaPod, LED Macro Ring Light, Nikon 105mm macro, Nikon 18-300mm, Nikon 10-20mm and Nikon remote shutter release. It’s unnecessary to assume that you need a lot of fancy and expensive kit to capture beautiful images. Work with what you’ve got to begin with, and add a few things to your arsenal to see what a difference they make to your work should you wish.
ISO 320, Nikon 105mm macro, f4.5, 1/400s, with Joby GorillaPod & LED Macro Ring Light
ISO 320, Nikon 105mm macro, f4.5, 1/400s, with Joby GorillaPod. WITHOUT LED Macro Ring Light
Many lenses have the ability to capture stunning macro shots; telephoto lenses however mean you can’t get as up close and personal with your subject as you can with a specialist macro lens. Experiment with whichever lens you have. As a rule of thumb, I shoot with my Nikon 18-300mm (which saves me carrying multiple other lenses all of the time) when I want to capture the whole of the plant, setting up farther away and zooming in to frame my composition, or my Nikon 105mm macro lens when I want a gentler focus or extreme close up. Given the lens aperture, you can produce softer, more artistic, shots with a dedicated macro lens. I’d always recommend having a go with all of your lenses to see which result you prefer. You can even, for instance, take a wide angle shot like I did with my Nikon 10-20mm, to showcase wildflowers or other subjects within the context of their landscape. Yes, I did crouch under a tree to take this shot, and yes, I got very very dirty…
ISO 100, Nikon 105mm macro, f6.3, 1/250s, with Joby GorillaPod
ISO 100, Nikon 105mm macro, f5, 1/320s, handheld
ISO 100, 10mm, f5, 1/320s (this image 3 shots at EV +/-1)
Depending on the combination of the above that you’ve implemented for your shots, you may find a remote shutter useful for further reducing camera shake. Ensure that your camera is secure and your composition framed, and fire off your shots remotely – perfect for the most delicate of subjects, or the dampest of grounds! For longer exposure where you’re sheltered from the wind, use Mirror Up mode.
ISO 125, 18mm, f7.1, 1/125s, handheld
ISO 100, 105mm, f6.3, 1/100s, with Joby GorillaPod
Take note of the settings I’ve given with my images, and just go shoot! There is no formula for the perfect shot, merely the confidence in your photographic knowledge, in your kit, and maybe in the weather. If you’re unsure of where to begin, stick your camera on Auto, take a test shot, assess the settings, and go from there. Remember, photography is an art form, and not all about the ‘right’ way to do things.