1. Choose a good specimen
A pristine specimen is important. Look for leaves with strong midribs and veins, as these components aren’t as translucent as the lamina (the actual ‘leafy’ bit). Once you’ve picked your plant, then find a leaf with good form and without many blemishes.
The angle of lighting is everything – you want to backlight the leaf to illuminate its structure. On a sunny day (if you can move the plant!) then shooting outdoors is the easiest approach – providing it’s not windy – as the light levels will be enough for a fast shutter speed. If there’s a slight breeze then stabilise the leaf using a support, Wimberley Plamp or similar. Alternatively, remove a leaf and attach it to the inside of a window, use a tripod and a slower shutter speed for similar results.
3. Focus & exposure
Select aperture-priority or manual exposure mode, choose a low ISO rating if you’re using a tripod or bump it up if shooting handheld. A mid-aperture of f/5.6 to f/8 will give you good image quality, or you can open up the aperture a bit for more creative selective focus effects.
As you’re shooting towards the light, you may find your initial results underexposed. If so, use positive exposure compensation (or adjust the shutter speed in manual mode) to correct this.
If you want the whole leaf in focus, make sure that the lens and leaf are on the same focal plane. However, the effect of the leaf gently falling in and out of focus also looks appealing.
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