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Urban Safari : Macro at the Mall

Taking closeup and macro photos is a lot easier when the air is still. Even a light breeze can set things swaying back and forth, ruining the focus. Waiting for things to settle back down is both time consuming and frustrating. Thus it is no surprise that when the proper condition presents itself, you have to take it. We were out Saturday night when we noticed that a local mall was hosting a flower show, we took advantage of the opportunity, went back with gear Sunday morning, and were able to get in a photo shoot before the place got busy.

Shooting inside a mall, while more controlled, will also present its own set of challenges, the biggest of which can be lighting. When we were there on Saturday night, the stores were closed (except for the restaurants) and the main sections were pretty dark. We thought compensating for the interior lights and properly illuminating the flowers would be a problem. Fortuitously, the mall actually had a very high ceiling with lots of skylights. Even at 9AM, the place was flooded with bright indirect sunlight… PERFECT for our needs.

We brought a lot of gear with us (macro bellows, tripod, flash, etc…), but all we ended up using was the Nikon D90 and the 50mm lens (just an amazing lens for the money!) on a tripod for all of the shots. We tried using the bellows, but it was too time-consuming to setup and focus for each shot. We wanted to move quickly as we wanted to be done before the shoppers started showing up.

Since there was plenty of light, our best strategy for shooting quickly was to set the aperture to get the desired depths of field for each shot, and worry about cropping later. When we got back and were able to look more closely at the details of the images, we realized the approach worked better than we had hoped. All in all, we managed to get close to fifty usable shots in less than an hour. Not bad for a Sunday morning 🙂

Interesting photo opportunities can be found anywhere, even at a mall. We hope our little “Macro at the Mall” adventure will inspire you to go in search of your own unusual photo possibilities. If/when you do find something, drop us a note and share!

NOTE: Just an FYI…mall cops are very nice folks, but they may not always let you set up your gear (tripod, lighting, etc…) without authorization. If you are uncertain whether shooting inside will be an issue or not, contact the mall’s marketing department first and ask for permission. It will save you time trying to explain why you are there when everyone else is home still asleep.

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