Once again, I left the hard choices to my Canon PowerShot—though I made sure it was in Macro mode first. And once again the camera chose well: an aperture of ƒ/4 and a shutter speed of 1/320th of a second. Knowing that the depth of field would be much reduced with the aperture stopped down this far, I focused on the nearest flower's most distant petals. The result? See for yourself. The water droplets on the petals stand out in sharp relief, while the daisies in the background are mere ghostly presences, the surrounding grasses little more than variegated shades of green. In the soft light from a storm-washed sky, Auto mode gave me exactly what I wanted.
Often, however, it's low light itself that's the problem. Luckily, over the decades that I've been snapping away I've collected a few…
Bright Ideas for Dealing With Dim Light
When you get close—and you don't have much choice in macrophotography, do you?—your own body frequently casts a shadow on your subject. The obscuring foliage of forest and thicket compounds the difficulty, and when you take into account the need to balance shutter speed and aperture, you're frequently left entirely in the dark. In desperation, you may be tempted to use your camera's built-in flash, but I'm seldom happy with the result. Here the problem is too much light, so much that all detail is lost in the glare. Off-camera strobes and illumination techniques adapted from the studio can be used, of course, and even a flashlight can be pressed into service in a pinch, but I prefer the simplicity and challenge of shooting in natural light whenever I can. That doesn't mean I don't try to make the best use of what nature provides, however. Most often this involves using a reflector of some sort. It needn't be anything very elaborate. Here are a few of my favorites: