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Macro Flower Photography

 - with Ken Payne 


Tonight, Mid-Cheshire Camera Club had a special treat in the form of guest speaker Mr Ken Payne. Ken was presenting his talk – Close up macro flower photography

Ken has been taking photographs since he was 15 years old. In those days he was using film and developing his own images. He is currently a member of Pottersbar Photographical Society and with the wonders of Zoom, we are lucky to be able to tap into Ken’s presentation despite him actually being so far away. Besides taking images of flowers, Ken also enjoys shooting landscapes and portraits.

As soon as Ken got into his presentation, I could tell this was a specialised subject. I have tried a little macro work myself and I think it takes a lot of patience. Ken took the audience to new levels with his understanding of the subject and just being able to get the most of an image of a flower. The presentation started with a number of finished images that had been taken and processed recently by Ken. They were all colourful and punchy with incredible sharpness.

What was interesting was the fairly simple set up that Ken uses. During his presentation, he took time to show the audience his set up, usually in his kitchen or garden with a camera on a tripod and flower held in a clap either lit by window light or by two LED constant lights.

Ken was able to get superb front to back sharpness by using a system of focusing called, focus stacking. This involves taking multiple images of the subject on different focal plains. The images are then merged together in Photoshop or similar software to produce a single sharp image. Ken provided a live demo of how he did this. An alternative software platform also used by Ken is Helicon Focus. This is designed specifically for focus stacking and would appear to produce a better end result than Photoshop.

In order to take multiple images of a subject on different focus plains, you would normally attach your camera to a focusing rail and move the rail an increment after each exposure however, Ken now uses a Canon EOS RP. This is a Digital Mirrorless SLR and has a built-in focus stacking option with a ‘set it and forget it’ approach.

Ken went into further post-production detail explaining how he made selections, and then refined the selection using dodge and burn tools. He showed us how to add different background including tips to make adjustments to the new background so your subject stands out.

After tea Ken’s presentation was more centred around the camera gear he uses including; extension rings, camera, lenses, focus rails, lights & reflectors (side lighting, backlighting, natural light bounced, torch light with natural light) and tripod.

Ken finished off with a final selection of images. These detailed strong composition, colours, shape and design, some with limited stacking as a design and composition feature that would result in parts of the subject being blurred out.This was a very detailed and technical presentation and one that I personally enjoyed. Even if macro flower photography is not your thing there was a lot of transferable skills in Ken’s presentation that could be applied to a lot of other genres. That said, whilst we are still in the depths of a national lockdown, miles away from a decent landscape scene, it may be worth giving macro flower photography a good go, what have you got to lose!For more information about Ken Payne and macro flower photography, have a look at his website :

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