Posts tagged “Macro

Some Flowers and Second Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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These are some random flower shots I took with my macro lens testing the metering on my camera.

Cameras read reflected light from the scene you are shooting. In the days of manual only cameras, you had a handheld exposure meter that could measure reflected and incident lighting. Incident lighting is taken from the subject’s point of view and measures the light hitting the subject. Reflected light captures all light coming at the lens, not just the subject. Clearly, incident lighting is more exact for the subject and reflected lighting more realistic for the entire scene. That is why DSLRs have spot, centre-weighted and a whole frame exposure mode.These modes enable us to narrow the area being measured. Secondly, modern DSLRs do not have the capability of capturing as wide a range of light as say print film had, but that is improving with every new model. Just as higher ISOs are increasingly noise free. When you take in the variables of ISO, aperture and shutter speed and you take into account the limitations of the camera you can see why exposure can be tricky.

Straight Down (Two Photographs)

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I don’t believe these photos break any rules. But often when I see dragonflies on the ground the background or other things makes the photo unworkable. Here I was able to crop into a nice composition that works in colour and B&W. Lightroom’s latest version has a much improved auto function in the basics tab and rather than over brightening things it gets most settings bang on, a bit too much clarity and saturation but that is easily fixed. The increasing sophistication of the software trending toward the one button fixes everything is something worth watching. For those who hate editing this may be a solution and for those who like editing this may create a better starting point for creative touches.

A Milkweed Beetle and a Note on the Rule of Thirds (Two Photographs)

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People who have read my blog for while will know I do not consider the rule of thirds anywhere near a law, though it is helpful. For those unfamiliar with the rule here is a link (Rule of Thirds). Recently I read about a couple who returned their wedding photos with a number of complaints including the lack of the use of this rule. So why don’t I think its law or even a rule? Because composition is part of the art of photography, if one rule of composition fit all it would not be an art. Why is it useful?Because it makeIs you think about composition. There are many other general ideas for composition you can read about, negative space, the golden spiral etc. It’s the word rulethat misleads. It’s your composition that should lead the audience‘s eye to your subject and if the rule helps thats great. One of the photos of the beetle in this post follows the rule the other does not.

Milkweed Bug and Aperture (Two Photographs)

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As you get closer to a subject like this milkweed bug, the depth of field shrinks for any given aperture. At F 11 I would expect to get a farmhouse a mile away in focus from front to back. This milkweed bug was taken at F11 and as you can see it’s not all in focus. Had I used F 16, slightly more would be in focus but due to a phenomenon called diffraction I would get a soft result (a complicated explanation and calculator for when it is most likely to happen can be found at My rule of thumb is max out my F stop at F14 and rarely go to F 16. You will also see here what is called selective focus, our subject is mostly in focus and not much else. More importantly you should be aware that the size of the camera sensor affects depth of field (multiply the Fstop by the crop factor e.g. a Nikon DX  crop factoris 1.5.) So on a full frame camera like the Nikon D800 thephotos here would have less depth of field at the same aperture. Macro and close up photography benefit from smaller sensor cameras.

Chairs on Hold and Some Final Words on Macro (Two Photographs)

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I have found close-up photography, specifically of insects, endlessly fascinating and challenging. Macro/close-up photography is almost always about detail, seeing things in a way they could not otherwise have been seen and while that is true for other types of photography, see the photos in this post, with close up photography you are sure to surprise your audience.

I hope my comments and suggestions have helped you understand the basics and the pros and cons of trying various options. I can do no better than to tell you what works for me. I suppose at some point in the future someone will create some gear that will make all of this simpler but until then the options I have mentioned are what is available.

A Goose on Ice and More on Macro (Two Photographs)

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A goose on ice sounds like a delicacy or at least a vodka.  But actually the geese we see in the early winter seem to enjoy the ice and handle it well. The lighting and pose is what caught my eye.

Macro: The Diffusion of Light

One of the more debated elements of close-up macro photography is how to diffuse the light, soften it and make it more natural. The larger the light source and the closer the subject to the light the softer the light is (again I will spare you the science).  A long explanation of diffusion can be found here: The easiest solution to this (in the field and indoors) is to place a a diffuser over your flash. You can make your own or buy one.I use the Lastolite EZybox (Manfrotto). The diffuser makes a huge difference in getting great light, once on the camera you just have to experiment with the power of the flash and the aperture. High-end flashes usually have a place where you attach an external battery pack. With a Godox pack, for instance, you can shoot 40 shots at high speed without stopping and the battery will still last for several days, in my case months, without the battery needing recharging, (the plastic holders that are sold to hold eight rechargeable batteries break too easily in my experience).

Red Squirrel And Pine Cone Plus More on Macro (Three Photographs)

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This squirrel having a great time with a pine cone was shot at 3200 ISO, I was gentle on the noise reduction not to soften the photos further, but at that ISO you gamble on both noise and softness.

Macro: Combating the Diminishing Light

There are three ways to fix the fact that up close we often have less light than we need to photograph subjects.We can up our ISO, and as discussed above this can lead to noise and a soft result. We could reflect light onto the subject with a reflector of some sort, but unless you have an assistant or a stand this could be cumbersome. Or we can use artificial light (Flash). Most cameras limit the shutter speed at which flash will synch with the shutter to about 1/250th of a second. However, a very low-level of light from a flashgun will freeze motion. Here is how this can be done. Assuming a flash on your camera and that the flash and camera work in manual mode, set the flash to 1/8th power or less, your shutter speed to the maximum synch speed it will allow for flash, probably 1/250th of a second. Now your only variable is aperture. Assuming we want a large depth of field use F 14, if it’s too much or too little light adjust the flash power up or down (or adjust the F stop but beware of diffraction over F16). These are my settings with a Nikon SB-900. I have not used ring flashes, but I have used dedicated macro flash gear and I find that gear expensive and cumbersome. You will find a considerable material on do-it-yourself reflectors on-line. There is only one small gotcha in the scenario suggested above and that is the nature of the light created (next post).