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Photography

Finding Macro Inspiration in the Garden

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This post is part of a series called Macro Photography.
Finding Macro Inspiration at Home
Abstract and Colourful Close-Ups

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When the weather is nice (and sometimes even when it’s not!) it’s great to get out with your macro lens and do some outdoor close-ups. Us macro photographers can often fall into the trap of photographing only bugs and flowers, and there's nothing wrong with this, but there are so many more hidden treasures to be found. In this tutorial I hope to give you a few examples that will help you to look beyond the ordinary.

Decadent Decay

In most outdoor spaces you’ll find decay. Look for peeling paint and rust for a really interesting closeup of amazing texture and colour:

Rust
Rust and peeling paint give fabulous texture and colour [photo: Marie Gardiner]

There are repeating patterns to be found too, and a bit of decay on those can make a great focal point. This is the grill of an old barbecue:

Barbecue grill
Use the rule of thirds and leading lines to add interest to your shots [photo: Marie Gardiner]

I tried to have the decay in focus along the top line of the ‘rule of thirds’ grid. Having the rest out of focus and those leading lines going up to the focal point works really well. The muted colours and ‘pop’ of orange also add a nice touch. 

The Ordinary Can Be Interesting

Twigs are lying around in most outdoor spaces and the bark makes a wonderful close-up.

Close up of a twig
Bark makes a great textured macro photo [photo: Marie Gardiner]

If you have a woodpile for a fire, the uniformity of the logs can really add interest to a picture as well as providing great texture.

Key and lock
Keys in locks look interesting; try focus stacking to overcome depth of field issues [photo: Marie Gardiner]

I think keys and locks always look great in closeups, especially with a great texture behind them like the shed here. Try focus stacking to get both the lock and key in focus whilst retaining some shallow depth of field for the background.

‘Different’ Plant Life

We know the standard shots of pretty flowers and cute mushrooms but look for less attractive plants for a really unique look.

Holly leaves
Holly leaves. Plants behind your focal point make excellent bokeh [photo: Marie Gardiner]

The jagged leaves of the holly add interest here and the rest of the plant in the background makes excellent bokeh. Try and get the sun behind the rest of the plant for a lovely backlit, warm look.

Moss
Tiny plants can often be found under rocks or on window ledges [photo: Marie Gardiner]

I found this moss growing on the window ledge of a shed. Looking around garden structures and rockeries can reveal some really fascinating plants that may usually be overlooked. This almost looks like an exotic sea plant!

Conclusion

Whatever the weather you can find amazing shots out of doors. If you’re less of a wimp than me you can explore spider infested greenhouses and sheds to get some great pictures of webs or tools. Lift up rocks to find moss and small creatures but be sure to put everything back where you find it to keep the little guys happy. Don't be put off if it's not warm or sunny, there are amazing colours to be found in plants in autumn and frost and snow make great macro photos in winter. If you don't fancy going out in the rain or it's bit too chilly for you, be sure to check out my macro inspirations in the home tutorial for something to do in any weather.


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