Capturing the perfect Flower Macro [For Beginners]


If you appreciate the subtle beauty of a freshly bloomed bud or want to preserve the memory of that bright and bold gift bouquet why not try putting your photography skills to good use and capture a delicate floral macro?

Image by Hamed Saber

Begin by finding the perfect specimen and if possible place it in an area with great soft light, for example in front of a window that is shielded with a sheet or net curtain. If the plant is outside either move it to a shaded location or find a way of diffusing the sun’s rays with a piece of fine material if the light is particular harsh or the sun is at a high position in the sky. Shoot with your back to the light (without blocking it) or from the side, so that the light falls gently and delicately on the flower head’s crevices and petals, effortlessly eventuating texture, colour and the intrinsic detailing. An overcast but bright day will undoubtedly harvest optimum captures, but if you need to ‘add’ extra light utilise a reflector to lift details from the shadows.

Next set the camera onto a tripod or if you are lacking one try using something as a stable substitute to support it underneath. Using something like Joby’s GorillaPod for DSLRs will be extremely useful here, especially when shooting immoveable or smaller specimens as the accessory is relatively dainty and low to the ground as it doesn’t have a restrictive centre column like a tripod does.

Image by Auntie P

In terms of glassware a macro lens or extension tube will reap stronger images, otherwise experiment with focal length you have at your disposal and use your distance to influence the composition, determine how close you can get to secure a lock. Some people prefer the simplicity of auto-focus, whereas others surmise that manual offers greater creative control, either way decide what you want in focus, lock on to it and then recompose.

If you are using a point-and-shoot device, opt for the camera’s macro mode and ensure that the flash is deactivated. DSLR or hybrid users should switch into Aperture priority and experiment with the lens’ aperture range to alter how much detail is captured. For a crisp centre and softly blurred petals or background opt for an aperture of between f1.8 and f4 depending on the strength and range of the effect you want to generate. If you’d rather keep the flower head’s details crisp use a narrower aperture such as f18 or even f22.Depending on the colour of the flower you may find you’ll need to employ exposure compensation to balance the scene.

Image by Evan Leeson

Stand above the flower and shoot the subject from various angles, then lower the lens in stages to the same level as the flower and shoot again, finally fall beneath the flower head and shoot up at its delicate underbelly.

Review your captures onscreen to determine what appeals to you or what you would like to develop. If you want to tweak the captures in an editing suite it is advisable to shoot in RAW so all of those vivid details and colours are naturally replicated.

If you would like to repeat the photo session at a later date, try experimenting with various lighting techniques, lenses, gels and include elements such as water for that heightened level of interest. Shooting a flower macro just after it has rained, or before snow or frost melts, can really exaggerate the specimen’s beauty and lends itself to creating a more dramatic photograph.

Further Reading on Photographing Flowers: How to Photograph Flowers and Photographing Flowers – A How-To

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Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) is the former editor of Digital Photographer magazine, and is now a freelance journalist and photographer who has written for dozens of photography and technology magazines and websites over the last decade. Recent author and tutor too.

  • DebinKC

    I captured this with my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l macro IS USM lens. I only wanted the stamen to be sharp on this Zinnia.

  • DebinKC

    Another photo of the same Zinnia with my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens.

Some Older Comments

  • ASEEM SHARMA August 9, 2013 02:39 pm

    Good article. I too shot one with a good DOF. However, am not able to load an image!!!

  • Manoj Dalua January 13, 2012 04:35 pm

    great photography

  • Len Moser February 9, 2011 02:14 am

    I'm just blown away by the quality of the photography on this site. Thanks everyone for sharing. I too love photographing flowers. You can see my shot of an African Daisy here:

  • Tracey October 23, 2010 02:22 pm

    [eimg link='' title='DSC00109' url='']

  • Tracey October 23, 2010 02:21 pm

    Hi there, firstly I am an absolute beginner but I was rather proud of this photo of my first sping red rose. We had just a a downfall of rain and I looked so lovely.
    Any comments or critisim is very welcome.

  • Montse October 10, 2010 08:55 am

    Many thanks, John!!!!

  • john f October 10, 2010 07:32 am

    Hey Montse,

    I am a committed amateur also using the 450d the remote release is one of the best aind to macro photography you can get.

    Thanks again

  • Montse October 7, 2010 10:50 pm

    Thank you, John, for your reply and suggestions. Congratulations for this superb water droplet shot!!! I think I need a lot of practice and ..... a tripode. My camera is Canon 450D, and I have just bought a have a remote release, but I'm amateur. Greetings from Venezuela,

  • john f October 6, 2010 09:58 pm

    Its not always needed but recommended due to the zoom you will normally get a bit of camera shake.
    If you have bright enough condtions then crank up the shutter speed to compensate for this.

    I always try to use a tripod for macro and a remote shutter release, both can be had relatively cheaply..
    P.S the higher up the tripod goes the less stable it becomes unless its a very well made one..
    I have attached another wee macro shot of a water droplet on a twig end.
    This would not have been possible without a tripod and remote release


    [eimg link='' title='twig with water droplet' url='']

  • Montse October 5, 2010 10:49 pm

    Very nice macro shots!!! , but pls, can anyone tell me if it is really necessary to use a tripod for Macro photography, because I do not have one, and recently bought a Tamron Macro lens, 90 mm, and can not get yet good shots (sorry for my bad english, I´m spanish(. Would appreciate a reply, I´m very confused. Thanks,

  • Al Gburi October 5, 2010 10:09 pm

    Amazing !

    Thanks = )

  • Kenneth September 29, 2010 08:33 am

    Yup, there's definitely some gray in there!

  • don September 28, 2010 08:44 am

    It looks more like Black and Grey to me.

  • Kenneth September 28, 2010 07:54 am

    Sometimes I like it better in black and white!

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_5960.jpg' url='']

  • Rebecca Anne Grant September 22, 2010 04:52 pm

    There is a lot of beautiful flowers on here. I love this place!

  • A. Catani September 22, 2010 10:27 am

    [eimg link='' title='don't stand so close to me' url='']

  • Marlon Cox September 21, 2010 10:24 am

    I want to get some feed back on my first shots with my camera. It is a Nikon D3000. Right now i'm heading tin the direction of flower and insect photography. Trying to take things one step at a time. I didn't use any macro lens for these shots.

    Thank you

    [eimg link='' title='DSC_0152' url='']

  • Steve September 20, 2010 10:18 am

    Flower pics can be boring but they can be fun, too. Here,s one I grabbed on a recent walk near my house.[eimg link='' title='Flower' url='']

  • john f September 20, 2010 06:39 am

    Here is one i took earlier so to speak
    Taken in June on a 300mm macro
    The wee Orchid itself is no more than 2.5cm high
    No idea what kind it is other than a wild one

    [eimg link='' title='Wild Orchid' url='']

  • Phil Manning September 20, 2010 03:34 am

    Best introductory article I have read in the subject. Very clearly written and with achievable goals for really good results from the off. Impressive - thanks!

  • Jan W September 20, 2010 02:45 am

    I love macro photography, but I have an extension type tube that I could use between the camera base and lens, but I cannot get it to work with any of my lens....thought it would be real neat to "double" the macro capabilitities...anyone know of any tricks with that? I have an olympus E-500 digitial slr....please send advice if you can...

  • Jessica S. September 19, 2010 08:32 am

    I love shooting flowers. I think there is something absolutely gorgeous about them, and they are never the same, one to the next, despite their apparent similarities.

    And here's a black and white dahlia:

  • Jessica S. September 19, 2010 08:21 am

    I love shooting flowers. I think there is something absolutely gorgeous about them, and they are never the same, one to the next, despite their apparent similarities.

    [eimg link='' title='Dahlia!' url='']

    And here's a link to the black and white version of this dahlia:

  • RLewisNewman September 19, 2010 08:06 am

    Very useful article. I've tinkered with macro shots for a few months, now. Last week, I visited the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, OR. A perfect place and opportunity to use my Nikon D3000 for some awesome macro photography. I was pleased to meet a few of my fellow photogs who are also in Photography class, such as I am. Shooting in macro is a fun setting and you'll be amazed by the features that are revealed when you download your images. Keep on shooting and have fun. Thanks for the tips, Natalie.[eimg link='' title='Macro Study - Roses' url='']

  • Daniel September 18, 2010 03:23 pm

    Macro photography is one my favorites. I wish I can afford to buy a dedicated macro lens for my old Canon 20D. I've taken some closeup shots of flowers before but can't get closer because of the limited use of my zoom lens.

  • Daniel September 18, 2010 03:22 pm

    Macro photography is one my favorites. I wish I can afford to buy a dedicated macro lens for my old Canon 20D. I've taken some closeup shots of flowers before but can't get closer because of the limited use of my zoom lens.

  • Don Rosser September 18, 2010 05:36 am

    Lighting is important tho you can use a defuser even a magazine or news paper to shield the bright sunlight and always use a tripod where possible, also a great tip if you are spraying the subject with water I use a little drop of glycerine mixed with the water , this keeps the water from dropping off the flowers, it is normally available at your local supermarket in the cake making isle.

  • Karrie0208 September 18, 2010 05:04 am

  • Karrie0208 September 18, 2010 04:59 am

    Taken on July 29, 2010 at 5.14pm EDT (edit)
    Posted to Flickr August 6, 2010 at 10.26AM EDT (edit)

    Exif data
    Camera Canon EOS Digital Rebel
    Exposure 0.008 sec (1/125)
    Aperture f/5.6
    Focal Length 55 mm
    ISO Speed 100
    Exposure Bias 0 EV
    Flash No Flash
    X-Resolution 72 dpi
    Y-Resolution 72 dpi
    Orientation Horizontal (normal)
    Date and Time (Modified) 2010:07:29 17:14:57
    YCbCr Positioning Centered
    Date and Time (Original) 2010:07:29 17:14:57
    Date and Time (Digitized) 2010:07:29 17:14:57

  • James September 18, 2010 04:22 am

    I've only taken a few floral shots, but I say there is nothing wrong with buying a flower to photograph. I also like to bring the flower indoors (unless you want an outdoor background) and use a strobe if I want. [eimg link='' title='DSC_2451' url='']

  • Amlan September 18, 2010 04:08 am

  • Ravikanth September 18, 2010 01:09 am

    Thanks for a nice article. Its very helpful. I recently started clicking flower macros.[eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • tanushree sood September 18, 2010 12:22 am

    Wonderful article. Thanks so much for sharing. I will keep these tips in mind and will use them next time, am clicking macro. Loves your shots too :)
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_1835.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_1834.jpg']

  • Benji September 18, 2010 12:14 am

    Hey, this was my first macro shot with my 90mm tamron

    Took some advice from here but the rest was hard work :)

  • Peggy Collins September 18, 2010 12:02 am

    Very useful tips here! I'm completely sold on my Canon 500D close-up lens for macro shots. It can be used on either Canon or Nikon cameras and it's quite inexpensive. You just screw it onto a telephoto my case, I usually use it on my 100-400mm lens. You don't have to get super close to your subject either. Here's a macro of an African daisy, taken with this combo.
    [eimg link='' title='Purple Power' url='']

    As somebody already mentioned, spraying flowers with a mister can really add another dimension. But flowers also look great after a rainfall, when their colors seem more saturated and they're covered in raindrops.
    [eimg link='' title='Rain Showers & Spring Flowers' url='']

  • Chris September 17, 2010 01:05 am

    Great article. The beginning is even poetic.

    My experiments with macro flower photography in our backyard garden have taught me that lighting is everything. Early morning or early sunset provide lighting that makes dramatic floral shots.

  • Chris September 17, 2010 01:02 am

    Great article. The beginning is even poetic!

    With my experiments in our backyard garden i find lighting is the key to dramatic flower photos. Early morning or late evening light can create images like this.

    [eimg link='' title='Glow Within' url='']

  • Raymond September 16, 2010 04:23 pm

    Ironically I just shot a photo of a flower outside my house earlier today.

    [eimg url='' title='DSC_4176-Large-640x428.jpg']

  • Scott September 16, 2010 03:50 am

    Macro Flower photography is much more difficult that it may seem at first, this is a great post with starter tips and the included photos are very good examples.

    I'm still working on it, with a few macro lenses and extension tubes.

  • chris September 15, 2010 11:29 pm

    Nice post for beginners.

    Another tip I learned, from this website actually, is to get a little spray water bottle and mist the flowers to get a really dewy effect. This has worked wonders for me. Such a simple trick to really get some interesting shots! I believe the post with that tip was about photographing wedding rings if you want some further reading about flowers/macro.

  • Christoph September 15, 2010 10:15 pm

    Even though many say flower photos are boring, I think every flower has some great beauty - for some it's secret, for some it's obvious (like this Japanese cherry blossom below):

    [eimg url='' title='572__600x500_sakura2.jpg']

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