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Macrophotography: Creating An Elegant Ombre Background with f/2.8 Lens

Using the maximum aperture of a macro lens allows us to capture a world that we cannot see in our everyday life. In the following article, I will introduce photography tips for blurring the background with a beautiful ombre colour gradation, which will help to accentuate the raindrops. (Reported by: Shirou Hagihara)

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM/ FL: 100mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/250 sec., EV+0.7)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto
I set exposure slightly to the brighter side so as to ensure that the pink colour in the background would not become too dull. The resulting shot brought out the glistening colours while conveying the beauty of early summer.


Macro lenses and maximum aperture can capture a world we can’t see in everyday life

Personally, I like to create bokeh effect in my works, so I tend to set the aperture to the maximum even when I am photographing a landscape. When using a macro lens, I would be using the maximum aperture almost all of the time. This is because I like to capture the foreground and background blurs as nothing more than a gradation of colours when shooting in the macro range.

Such an effect is not something you can see with the naked eye. Indeed, it is this ability to capture a world that we cannot see in our daily lives that makes the combination of macro lenses and maximum aperture an absolute necessity to me in my photoshoots.

How I captured the scene: 
To capture the shot above, I made my way to a flowerbed immediately after the rain stopped. I found many droplets of rain on the narrow leaves. In the background were bright pink azalea flowers in full blossom. I decided to make the raindrops the main subject to depict a world of colours that only a macro lens is capable of bringing out.

Occupying the background with only the azalea blossoms, I set the aperture to the maximum so the shape and texture of the flowers were no longer recognisable and only appeared as colour gradations.

If I used a narrow aperture, I would have been able to reproduce the texture of the raindrops more clearly. However, I was aiming for an ombre effect and a narrow aperture would have resulted in the opposite - a clear boundary between the different colour tones.


Tip: Different background colours give different visual effects

When it comes to using colour gradation as a form of photographic expression, the effect created by the chosen colour affects the resulting work greatly. Cool tones and warm tones create completely opposite effects, so I recommend that you select a background colour that accurately reflects the intention you want to convey through the main subject. Let us see how the look of the same main subject changes with the background colour.

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM/ f/2.8/ 1/500 sec./ ISO 400
Here, I used the pink colour that was reflected in the water droplets as an accent to the green colour that occupied the entire image. Compared to the very first image, this shot does not look as colourful.


EOS 5D Mark III/ EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM/ f/2.8/ 1/320sec/ ISO 800
The image is divided into green and pink sections. The pink colour stands out when green is used as the background.


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Shirou Hagihara

Shirou Hagihara

Born in 1959 in Yamanashi. After graduating from Nihon University, Hagihara was involved in the launch of the photography magazine Fukei Shashin where he worked as an editor and a publisher. He later resigned and became a freelance photographer. Currently, Hagihara is engaged in photography and written works centring on natural landscapes. He is a member of the Society of Scientific Photography (SSP).

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