How to Photograph Up Close – VI: Creative Techniques using Natural Light

Hello everyone,

If you have been reading the steps on, “How to Photograph Up Close” then you should know how to process your photographs and have some basic knowledge on macro equipment.  Did you do your homework and photograph in natural light?  Did you notice that the closer you got to the subject, the depth-of-field shortened (less in focus)?  Did you also notice that when you used apertures that ranged from F14 – F22 gave you more depth-of-field (more in focus) and that you had to let more light into the camera by making your shutter speed longer?  Also, did you notice that the auto focus on your lens doesn’t work well with macro photographing… setting the lens on manual gave you more control of what you wanted focused in your picture? Now that you have practiced… let’s have some fun with some creative macro techniques.  If any of you reading this haven’t done your homework…no worries just click here and start from the beginning.


First I would like to give you some basic art terms so you will understand what I’m talking about in the future posts.  One of the main design techniques I learned in school was the, “Rule of Thirds”.   Trust me, this rule works… be creative and photograph on all intersecting areas to see what you like. All of the photographs below have the focal point on one of the intersections.


The photographs above may not be exactly on the intersections, but they are close and do make an impact on the photograph.

I would like you to also read up on Color Theory.  It’s important to understand how colors work together, you will use this more when I talk about advanced digital darkroom techniques.  Today, I want you to pay attention to complimentary colors. When you see the color wheel (click on Color Theory), whatever is opposite to the color you’re looking at always works well when you combine them in a photograph. This is why, I believe, sunsets and sunrises are such beautiful pictures.

I have mentioned this before and will again, Depth of Field (DOF) is important when photographing Macro. Take a look at this photo of an eye (below). We see eye photos all the time but when you tell a story in the photo like this one, showing us that this person is dreaming about something….makes this photo powerful, DOF made this possible.

Let’s talk a bit about telling a story.  Most photo editors, art reps, etc… say that we must tell a story. I agree, but…when you first begin to photograph Macro, I feel you should photograph anything anyway, use a variety of views and techniques. Once you understand the basics of exposure and composition, you will then start to look at your photographs differently. Play, play, play…this is how you learn. Yes, reading books, magazines, and my blog help, but to really learn you must photograph up close to understand the whole process of Macro photography. Ok, now that I have lectured you again, lol…let me show you some creative techniques using natural light.

Because we are focusing up close, water drops can be a lot of fun! The viewer can enjoy the photo composition and then a whole new composition in the drop of water.  Definitely play with water drops!

Another creative technique is photographing a variety of textures.

Pay attention to the repetitive lines and shapes. Not only are you having fun playing with this creative technique you also will have the fun of seeing what our eyes normally cannot see.

Let’s end with my favorite technique, back lighting. Macro back-light is really exciting…especially when you focus on leaves and flowers. You can see the details in the life of the subject. You can also silhouette your subjects just be careful of lens flare but try it, you’ll be happy with your capture.   I found this great site that talks about back-lighting, check it out for more info.

Backlight using Natural light.

Backlight using Natural light.

Today I talked about some of the various compositions of visual arts; Rule of Thirds & Color Theory.  I also would like you to shoot waterdrops, textures, and play with back lighting.  I would  like you to read a great column that photographer Harold Davis posted, “Focusing on What Matters”.   He has various projects for you to work on but what I like best about this post is that it will help you think about what you are photographing.  Have fun playing with natural light this week.  Next week we will discuss alternative lighting techniques.




7 Comments on “How to Photograph Up Close – VI: Creative Techniques using Natural Light”

  1. […] for macro Photographing / IV: Basic Macro Shots using Natural Light / V: Digital Darkroom Basics / VI:  Creative Techniques using Natural Light / VII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 1 / VIII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 2 / IX: […]

  2. […] Photographing / IV:  Basic Macro Shots using Natural Light / V: Digital Darkroom Basics / VI:  Creative Techniques using Natural Light / VII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 1 / VIII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 2 / IV: […]

  3. Thank you :o) I really appreciate this article. It’s very helpful to me as I love Macro Photography!

  4. Donna says:

    I like your tips. Is there a way for me to subscribe to your blog?

    • Thanks! Yes, you can subscribe by email…look at the upper right side of the blog and click on subscribe by email. Also there is an rss feed above it if you would like to choose how you would like to subscribe. If you have any problems please let me know so I can help you. Happy to meet you and let me know if you have any questions on macro photography, I will do my best to answer them.


  5. […] the original post here: How to Photograph Up Close – V: Creative Techniques using Natural Light Author: admin Categories: Art Design Tags: art-terms, breath, design, design-techniques, […]

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