Australian amateur photographer DonnaRondeau shares the story behind this photo plus 3 quick tips that will help you improve your macro shots.


"I am an intermediate photographer. I do photography as a dedicated hobbyist, so I'm really still learning technique and lighting, however, the image in discussion was very much planned and couldn't have come at a better time as I had just purchased a Tamron 90mm Macro lens" - DonnaRondeau



I woke up one morning and went outside with my dog. Just on the side of our house was this massive mushroom. It was huge. I quickly ran in the house and grabbed my camera with my new lens attached and began testing it out. After a few practice shots, it suddenly occurred to me that I had two dainty tree frogs and decided to sit one of them on top of it. One of the two frogs was very mellow and could easily be posed. So I sat her on top of the mushroom and she just sat there as I laid flat on my belly in the morning dew to take the shot. I wanted the shot to be face on because to shows size and scale, as it can be hard to get shots so low to the ground.


I wanted more of a depth of field shot with the frog after having taken several practice shots, I wanted the frog to be more of the subject. Frogs normally sit on lily pads and my first thought was "toadstool", which is what inspired me for the shot, even though this is a frog and not a toad.


Since this was shot early in the morning I had the sun just rising behind me. No tripod was used, and no flash was used. I set the ISO at 100 and used an aperture of f/2.8 for the depth of field to be as shallow as possible. We see a lot of frogs hanging from stems and sitting on branches but rarely do we see frogs sitting on a mushroom top. It was the perfect opportunity. Was it planned? Not at the time, but only after the practice shots.



I always consider rule of thirds when it comes to my photography. I'm not keen on centred images or crooked ocean/sky lines. I need to have my perspective and composition different. When I look through the lens, I'll then either slightly move the images to left, right, up or down until I see what I like through the lens. I'll usually take a few shots of the same subject and pick the one I most favour in Lightroom.


I stayed with colour for the end product because b/w didn't feel right with the subject. Post processing was done in Photoshop and Lightroom. Since my frogs are caged with peat moss, the get a bit dirty and peat moss sticks to their bodies. I clean up the peat moss in Photoshop and do my toning and colour adjustments in Lightroom.



If I could share three tips on macro photography? Hmmmm it's a tough one because I'm still learning as well.


My gallery contains a lot of frog macro shots and all were planned. My macro photography is staged using a light-box, tripod, and flash mount, and as much natural light as I can get. Depending on if it's a live subject as with my frogs, I will take practice shots using the props before placing my frog on the prop to get my lighting, angle, and aperture just right. I try very hard to avoid strong shadows, light shadows are easy to get rid of when post processing, but the less shadow you can manage, the better.


Still macro shots such as plants and flowers will usually vary depending on the weather. Sunny, still days are best especially if you can't use a tripod, otherwise a flash is best to use. One trick I picked up with small flowers is if you pick it and place it somewhere it will be less likely to bounce around on its stem, but I would prefer not to pick a blossom.



Patience is another aspect with macro, again, depending on subject. Since I work with my dainty's I need to be patient because they will not always cooperate. I have to pick the time when they are sluggish and not so active. I usually take numerous shots when they're moving around, sometimes they'll sit in just a perfect way that makes the shot worthwhile.