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Creating Valentine’s themed macros and flat lays for fun and profit

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You can read my blog Last article about heart-shaped bokeh, you’ll know I tried (and failed) to create a fun Valentine’s photo with letter tiles in the foreground. Here’s what I did with those tiles instead.

It didn’t work because the nifty 50mm I use for my DIY bokeh modifier can’t shoot macro: It has a long minimum focus distance of 450mm (almost 18 inches). I do have a macro lens. The handy Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM lens.

As a side note, this lens isn’t suitable for bokeh modifying, because it’s f/2.8 and an EF-S (cropped sensor) mount, so the effective f-stop isn’t wide enough for the big, round bokeh needed.

What it does is take amazing macro photos. On my Canon EOS 7D Mark IIThe focal length of a 35mm lens is actually around 55mm, so macro photos look like they were taken with a human eye.

I decided to use the letter tiles that I had (mine are from BananagramsBut Scrabble tiles are great, too) for some Valentine’s flat lays and macros instead.

The setup was simple. I used an off camera flash (my Canon Speedlight 430EX II) mounted on a receiver (I use Godox X1RFlash transmitter (Godox X1TI turned the flash on my camera to provide soft, even bounced light. I pointed the light at the ceiling in order to create a soft, even bounced lighting.

If you don’t have a transmitter and receiver for off-camera flash, you could just as easily use the flash on-camera, and just make sure the head is pointed at the ceiling when you reposition your camera between shots.

Ideas for decorative elements in your Valentine’s macro photos

When making your own personalized Valentine’s macros and flat lays, here’s some ideas of what you could include:

  • Letters and words. Letter tiles can be from a boardgame, an old typewriter, or handwritten onto textured paper.
  • Fabrics like silks, ribbons, cords, and fake fur are also available.
  • Old Polaroids and vintage black-and-white photos from your family album.

  • Ephemera includes stamps, stickers, old mail, tickets, postcards and other items.
  • Stationery: Textured Papers, paper clips, ink bottles and calligraphy pens. Ornate tools, such as old staplers, old scissors, and wax stamps. If you’re keen to get messy, try daubs of wet paint on thick watercolor paper.
  • Oddities, trinkets and other items: Search around your house for items that are grouped by color (find an assortment of yellow things), or style (find vintage-looking things).
  • Flowers and plants: Choose your Valentine’s favorite flower or one that’s meaningful to you both. Also, try using leaves, sticks or fruits.

  • Christmas lights
  • Jewelry such as lockets, necklaces, wedding rings and engagement rings. Choose items that have a special meaning for you and your Valentine.
  • Food: Jelly beans, decorated cupcakes, chocolates, berries.

What to do with your Valentine’s flat lay or macro photo

These would be a great cover for a custom Valentine’s card, and an easy photo activity for kids to do. They will enjoy searching for items to use in a flat lay. Try different angles. Get down close and shoot across the scene.

Shoot from above or position everything perfectly straight.

And when you’re done, why not share your photos on a Stock Website? This kind of photo has a wide range of uses, and you can pump out a bunch of different words and arrangements pretty quickly once you’ve gathered everything you need into one place!

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