As a wildlife/nature artist and photographer who is lucky enough to own a macro lense, I have been intrigued by the stunning photographs I have seen of dew drops containing images inside the drops of what is behind them, otherwise known as Dewdrop Flower Refraction. I have managed to produce a few successful shots but I personally find it to be extremely challenging due to factors such as wind, lack of natural light and getting really sharp focus. Below is one of my successful shots of allamanda flowers.
Dew Drops on Allamanda by Lesley Smitheringale
I have been following Mike Moats‘ photographic encounters for a few years now. This professional photographer from Michigan in the States specialises in nature macro photography and I wanted to share his photography tips in an article he recently posted on his blog Tiny Landscapes about how to photograph dew drops.
PEOPLE ARE AMAZED by Mike Moats
When I exhibit at my art shows each weekend, I have one image that I place in an area of the booth toward the front, so customers passing by will not miss it. This image of dew drops with a flower inside of them always draws a crowd of people in amazement, and the big question is, “Did you photoshop the flower into the drops“
This is a very easy shot to produce as you just start by finding some tall grass in an open field on a dewey morning. Once you locate a nice blade of tall grass with some dew drops, carefully position your tripod and camera close-in to fill the frame so the dew drops are easy to see. Use a Plamp with one end clamped on your tripod and the other end clamped onto the stem of your choice of flower, and position it directly behind the dewdrops. The closer the flower is to the dew drops the larger the flower will appear, and the father away, the smaller it will be in the dew. Once you get the right position of the flower, set your f/stop in the lower range like f/3.5 to f/5.6. You want to place your point of focus on the flower in the dew drops, and the shallow depth of field will soften or blur the flower. You don’t want to much details in the flower because you want the dewdrops to stand out from flower and not get lost.
Daisy Dewdrop Refraction II by Mike Moats
Another macro nature photographer I admire immensely is Brian Valentine (aka Lord V) from the UK and he has also provided an excellent tutorial on how to achieve these shots. Brian is a great believer in focus stacking to achieve the perfectly sharp final shot which involves taking three separate photos where the centre of focus changes each time to then be merged together to achieve everything in sharp focus in the final shot. In order to use focus stacking, the more expensive cameras allow you to take a short burst of photos at different settings but you then require a software programme such as combinez5 to successfully merge your photos together as one final photo.
Dewdrop flower refraction tutorial
photography tips by Brian Valentine
Thought I’d just put together a quick tutorial on how these are done.
You need to be shooting at around 2:1 to do them (100mm macro lens with 68mm of ext tubes is fine), although I’m normally shooting at about 3:1.
Need your camera rig , probably a dry mat ,a small daisy type flower about 2 to 3cms in diameter and a nice heavy early morning dew on your grass . I use the camera in manual with ETTLflash manual focus, F10-F11 ,1/200th ISO200
Put the mat down carefully on the grass and kneel on it and try to spot an interesting dewdrop (smaller than about 2mm in diameter preferably) or group of dewdrops. Carefully place the flower about 2cms behind the drop in a vertical position and then find the dewdrop in the view finder.If you need to move the flower- remember it’s upside down when viewed through the dewdrop. The camera is normally resting on my hand as low to the ground as I can get it. Take several pics whilst moving the camera forward very slightly until you have covered the focus points of all the dewdrops themselves in good focus and also the refracted images in good focus.
You need to make sure you are keeping the FOV the same and do not rotate the camera whilst taking the shots.
You then need to focus stack the images using combinez5 (see www.flickr.com/groups/macroviewers/discuss/163367/ for details)
Below are the three pics I used in a recent image and the last shot is the focus stacked version. Notice that the focus is only very slightly different in the pre-stacked shots.
Focus Stack of all 3 Images
by Brian V.
Originally posted at 2:40AM, 5 October 2006 PDT ( permalink )
Thank you to Mike and Brian for supplying these tutorials and photography tips on their sites – now I just need to go out and get some more practice!