"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

Photography In Late Evening Light.

This post was originally posted more than a year ago, but did not make the transfer when moving all posts from Blogger to WordPress.

This is a shot that I took about 10 minutes before the sun went down behind the trees and horizon.
I wanted to balance out the light, and to bring out the rich colors of the blue “toadflax” flower.
The winds were at a dead calm, so there were no problems there.

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

“Blue Toadflax”


I had the camera on the tripod and low to the ground. I set up two reflectors very close to the flower, one on each side of the flower to help catch any ambient light.
I then ran the Canon 420EX flash off camera, about 1 foot above the camera, about 3 feet behind the camera, and shooting through another reflector to diffuse the lighting a bit.
This setup used in the late evening often helps to balance out that light in order to give me the details needed and rich enough colors to make something that appeals to me!
Still, I rarely use flash, … but this is one time that it worked out well.

Common Blue Toadflax – “Nuttallanthus Canadensis”
Canon 75-300mm lens & Canon 500D Diopter
Canon 420EX flash
Tripod, plamps, reflectors
1/15 sec. @ f4.5
ISO 100
** Curves used in PS, and 10% boost in saturation using PS.

Thanks for looking everyone!

“Macro Art In Nature”

April 2, 2007 - Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , ,


  1. Another lovely shot, Michael. I’ll need to buy some of those ‘reflectors’ that you have! I think that you should start that website that we talked about. I’m going to head over to the dollar store pretty soon and get some supplies! :-)

    Comment by Paul | April 2, 2007

  2. Stunning Michael. I love reading about your elaborate setups too. Makes me think I need to think a lot more about how I take my photos to get the kind of shots I’d like to take.

    Comment by owen | April 2, 2007

  3. Great shot, that’s all I can say.

    Comment by JV | April 2, 2007

  4. Mike, what reflectors do you use? I noted Paul’s tongue-in-cheek reference there, and am thinking it might be something portable, paperish, and inexpensive. Am I right? Dish up…I love these tips shrouded in mystery.

    Comment by Photo Buffet | April 2, 2007

  5. (drum roll) ……………..
    Paper plates, or styrofoam plates!

    I am shooting macro, so why should I spend anywhere from $15 on up to $80 for a reflector, and something that in many cases will not last as long?

    Another secret.
    If you are lucky, you can find those plates that were not very well made.
    The reason they are at that dollar store, is because they are thinner in the middle, and food could easily come through the middle if the food is heavy enough or hot enough.
    On average I have found that the thin spot could be anywhere from the size of a marble on up to the size of a baseball.
    Now, … hold that up between the sunlight and your subject, and you will notice that the light is a bit stronger coming through the middle of the plate, offering up a nice spotlight effect on your subject.
    Sometimes I see them at the dollar store, sometimes I may go weeks without seeing any at all. Just keep an eye out for them.
    But you still can easily go to the grocery store to get you a pack of styrofoam or paper plates, and use them.
    They can easily be placed inside bushes or grasses, even bent around your subject, wrapping that subject in diffused light.
    A pack of 100 could possibly last me the rest of my life!

    Then there are those mirrors I have talked about.
    Go to the dollar store, and look for the little doll toys that were made for small children, or the little girls.
    Some of the parts are way to small for children, and that is why they are there. (In fact, I am still surprised that they can sell them!)
    Look for one of the little doll packages that has a small mirror inside.
    That tiny little hand mirror is usually covered with foil for the mirror section, which works just fine to reflect light on the smallest of subjects that are very close to the front of the lens.
    Then again, if you are lucky, … some ignorant company put actual glass mirrors inside of those packages.
    Bad for the children, … but great for a macro photographer.
    You can really use any size mirror, and to tone down the light coming off of those mirrors, you can easily use a rubber band and wrap a piece of crumpled wax paper around the mirror to cut down on the strength of the light, or use some flexible window screening to wrap around that mirror.

    Remember all of that silver colored Christmas tinsel, or tassels as some called it?
    If you have a very small macro subject and want light down inside of the darker areas, … try holding up a handful of tinsel near your subject and you can easily get an array of light going all over the place!
    I usually keep some wrapped around a small piece of cardboard, which also can be bent into different shapes.

    There are those who will look at me like I am totally amateurish while out in the field shooting with these things.
    I might be cheap, … but I’m not stupid.
    Why spend a bunch of money on something made by a company for the photography industry, when I can get the same results for a couple of dollars, and I might add, … last me years longer in many cases?

    I am just starting to make a living at this, and I hope that anyone else who would like to do the same thing, all the best luck in the world.
    Just because I am making a living at it now, does not mean I need to buy all things that are made for the professional photographer.

    And besides, … I need to keep the wife happy or she will make me “go get a real job”, … as she puts it! :)

    Okay, … I feel like I am ranting now, … so, …
    I need some coffee! LoL!

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 2, 2007

  6. ohmygosh, I guessed right! Hey, I’m all for the cheap tools, too. I once read about someone who uses one of those knee-high stockings as a filter when shooting into direct sunlight. Oh, and I’ve been wanting to ask, Mike, whether you keep one of those little spritzer thingmajigs handy for adding moisture to plants, or is that cheating?

    I’m not surprised you’re making a living at this. I’m waiting on your book to come out. Hurry.

    Comment by Photo Buffet | April 2, 2007

  7. LoL!

    I may add some water to plants sometimes here at home, but I rarely carry a bottle with me out in the field. Gets a bit to heavy!

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 2, 2007

  8. beatitful shot, I love the depth of colors.. and thanks for sharing your diffuser/reflector tips.. the less to carry around the better!

    I never think to mist plants.. I guess I’m a purist in that sense.. but to each their own eh? ;)

    Comment by Cindy | April 2, 2007

  9. This is really a stunning piece of work.
    I too use “home” products to try to work with lighting on my photos.
    I’ve found, for portraits, a cut milk jug works wonders for diffusing the bounce flash that I use (an old Sunpak that went with my Canon AE-1, back in the day), and creating a softer effect (with available light to balance..)
    I also use those foil window shades for the car, as reflectors. They come in gold, silver, white.. perfect for the “thrifty” photographer..
    It’s all about experimentation… which is half the fun…

    Comment by S- | April 2, 2007

  10. Beautiful vibrant colours!

    Comment by AMPix | April 2, 2007

  11. Beautiful image and some great tips Mike, thanks.

    Comment by Troy | April 3, 2007

  12. I’m not a flash user, but this shot makes me want to experiment, Michael. Beautiful work, and some great tips!

    Comment by Kathleen | April 3, 2007

  13. Hey Michael:

    I tried finding your email address so I could email you about this privately, but cannot seem to locate it.

    I see that you use sitemeter – they’re in the news right now and you should know about their recent activities:


    Please don’t hesitate to delete this post. Just wanted to make sure you knew about this.

    Have a great day, and keep up the great work! Still getting tons of hits from your awesome site, thanks again!


    Comment by Gloria Hopkins | April 3, 2007

  14. Thanks for the heads up on this Gloria!
    Sent you a e-mail.

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 3, 2007

  15. I love it :)

    Comment by timethief | April 3, 2007

  16. this one is SO beautiful, mike! this would perfectly fit on my living room wall. love this shot!

    Comment by sabinche | April 4, 2007

  17. That is such a beautiful blue! I really like the splash of red just in from the top.

    Comment by BobC | April 4, 2007

  18. Thanks again gang!
    It’s cool to hear about what others may use while shooting.


    Comment by macroartinnature | April 4, 2007

  19. […] You can see another image of this flower that was created a couple of years ago, also created in the late evening before the sun went down. “Shooting In Late Evening Light” […]

    Pingback by "Toadflax" Flower - Using The Canon 500D Diopter. « “Macro Art In Nature” | April 16, 2007

  20. The blue/red thing is super. so are the toadflax details. High contrast intensifies the colors and give the detail pop.

    Comment by tomwhelan | May 9, 2007

  21. […] 1. Artistic Blurs In Your Macro Images Using Photoshop 2. Using The “Orton” Method For Artistic Blending 3. “Layers Of Gold” Macro – Using Reversed Nikkor 50mm 1.4 Lens. 4. “In Their World” Series – Unwanted Highlights In Your Photography? 5. Rose Stamen – 50mm Reversed Lens 6. What The Lensbaby “Should” Force You To Do! 7. Adding Space To A Image In Photoshop Using The “Free Transform” Tool 8. Michael Brown, Inventor Of The “Cram It” Method In Photography. 9. A Marriage Of Macro Photography & Georgia O’Keeffe Paintings. 10. Photography In Late Evening Light. […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Posts From “Macro Art In Nature” Since 2005. « “Macro Art In Nature” | July 6, 2008

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