Colourful critters

 

Explore your garden forways thatyou can combine flowers and insects for striking results

DANIEL LEZANO: If you re lucky enough to have a garden,

chances are you ll already be aware of its potential as a nature photography.

Flowers in full bloom provide a wonderful opportunity to capture some colourful and ntricate close-ups, but have you ever considered compositions that deliberately combines plants and wildlife together? While sat in my garden, inspiration quite literally flew into view as a ladybird landed on some flowers in front of me, giving me the idea of combining a beautiful floral still-life with my garden visitor. This year has seen a veritable invasion of ladybirds across the UK, so with the warmer months ahead, you too should be able to try a similar image yourself. If you haven t got a garden, your nearest public garden or park should provide you with beautiful flower beds and hopefully hundreds of colourful insects from ladybirds to butterflies.

 GET PREPARED FOR CLOSE-UPS

Shooting close-ups is an extremely rewarding activity as you re able to discover, explore and capture a miniature world that is otherwise overlooked. To do it properly, you need kit that s able to produce high-magnification images of small subjects within a short distance from your lens.

The ideal option is a macro lens, which provides a life-size reproduction ratio (1:1) and a very close focusing distance, allowing you to fill the frame with small subjects.

While a tripod isn t essential, we d recommend that yo j use one as then you can fine-tune the ccmposition and leave your camera set up in position. It also means youfar less likely to have images ruined by shake if shutter speeds are slow.

A small silver/white reflector is handy for filling in shadows, but isn t an essential item.

While it s possible that you may find a ladybird in the perfect position, with the perfect backdrop, the truth is that this is an unlikely scenario. Realistically, as in the case with this set of images, you ll need to find a suitable plant with decent lighting and an attractive backdrop, then introduce your ladybird into the scene.

Ladybirds are unlikely to hang around for long, so it s essential that you have everything ready before you handle one and place it on the plant. This is why a tripod is so important - you can set up the camera s position so that the image frame is composed how you like it, prepare the camera settings and then, once you ve introduced the ladybird, you can start taking pictures. If the ladybird moves about, try to coax it back into position rather than adjust the camera - unless you absolutely need to - otherwise the effort you made in setting up will be wasted.

With the camera on a tripod, shake shouldn t be a major concern, so you want to pay the most attention to where you

focus in the frame and your choice of aperture setting. With close-ups, you ll find depth-of-field is very limited even at small apertures, so you need to make sure you ve focused correctly. We d recommend selecting a single AF point rather than use multi-point AF, so you can be in control of exactly where the lens focuses. The central point is usually the most sensitive, but you can choose whichever AF point covers the corresponding area of the plant you want to focus on. If your camera allows you to select small groups of AF points, then use this option for added sensitivity. We d recommend you start with an aperture setting bewtween f/5 and f/8, then after a couple of frames, take a sequence at different aperture settings so you can capture images with the background slightly sharper or thrown further out of focus.

Once you ve captured a set of images that you re happy with, you should make small adjustments to the camera angle and see how this affects the image. You may discover an angle that gives a better perspective of the flower or the ladybird, or one that gives a better background.

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