Posts tagged “Nikon

My Process, My Thinking (Three Photographs)

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Photography is what you make of it, so I can only speak personally. My take on photography is to make photographs that please me and my audience. In dong so I don’t want to stray too far away from reality, but I do want to photograph things that might not otherwise be seen or appreciated. This is a two-step process. Putting myself somewhere where I might find subjects and then making  photographs with my camera; this step is as much about the eye as about the technology. The second step is assessing the raw input, rejecting those shots that are badly implemented in cameraand then processing them with the lightest hand possible to get the effect I want. This second step requires thinking through an outcome that is realistic and has impact. This two-step process may look as easy as this duck’s excellent landing on ice. But in reality there is a lot going on. 

A Stubborn Bird (Two Photographs)

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Chickadees dive bomb you over and over seeking handouts of seeds. They have the fortitude and ingenuity to weather the winter, eating more than their own weight from caches of food they have hidden over the course of the summer and fall. If you observe their nests they feed their young and take out the garbage. But it is rare for one to sit still as this one did for its portrait.

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).

Macro: Extension Tubes and a Special Note on Winter Photography (Two Photographs)

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Macro: A 105mm macro lens will get you close, but it may not get you a safe working distance from your subject while getting you close. This is where extension tubes come in. They allow you to focus closer from farther away with any lens. Extension tubes go between the camera and the lens, they may have the connections that maintain the electronic links with the camera or they may not. Kenko makes a good set, but there are others. While you lose a bit of light, an extension tube  allows you to focus closer from farther away. I often use a 12mm extension tube that gets me optically close to the bee but not close enough to offend the bee.

The duck has nothing to do with macro or extension tubes and everything to do with handling difficult lighting situations. Ice and snow show up as bright blue in winter photography unless under-exposed by a couple of stops. The catch is how this affects your subject, it may not look great under exposed, and hence the choice, to do it in camera or in post production. In post, assuming flexible software you can selectively remove the blue. And in case you are wondering, the blue is a result of how the light meter reads the color white (similar things can happen with wedding gowns). In these photos I wanted the ice to show as ice and the steel grey look worked for me.

Macro: Getting Closer (Two Photographs)

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There are times when we need to be closer to our subject, yet have enough working space between ourselves and the subject (how close to the bee do you want to get). There are a number of different means to do this.

You could use a telephoto lens as was done in the photos in this post (but the usefulness of the technique depends on the size of what you want to capture up close and the megapixels at which your camera shoots).

You can turn your lens around and attach it to your camera backwards; you lose any auto controls over the lens, and you need a special adapter. This works surprisingly well and many people like the reverse lens technique. For one thing it’s cheap.

Thirdly, a slightly more expensive route is to use close up filters. Most of these tend not to give good quality results. There are exceptions, Canon makes a good filter, and Raynox filters do an even better job. The drawback with filters is that you lose some of the focusing flexibility you get with more expensive solutions (you tend to get stuck at a single distance from any subject).

The best solution would be a macro lens. This can be expensive. I would go for quality not cost, at least one of the better made macro lenses (Nikon’s latest 105mm) focuses too fast, not giving you time to set up other parameters before it starts focusing elsewhere. Older lenses may have benefits in this regard. The most used length of lens is the 105mm, though 100mm will do just fine. Just make sure the lens will actually do macro, e.g. go to 1:1 or closer. Even if we may never get that close it speaks to good optical elements. The lens should also permit an aperture of F16 if not F22. The subject of my next post is extension tubes and working distance.

Macro: Some Flowers and a Few Words on Lenses (Three Photographs)

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These leaves are a kind of photograph, call it almost abstract, that I hope makes the point that creativity can mean breaking rules, including that not everything needs to be sharp.

Macro and close up photography: a lot of what I have said applies to all photography and this post will be about some everyday myths. Manufacturers often tell you that a cropped sensor camera magnifies the lens, that a 60mm is identical to a 120mm lens. The truth is the angle of view is the same, the magnification is not. The 60mm lens remains a 60 mm lens in terms of magnification. In addition to thinking about how far a lens will enable you to see (telephoto) or how wide the view is (wide-angle lens), think about how close you can shoot. Some wide angles can focus on subjects so close the front glass almost touches the subject, while some telephoto lenses require you to be meters or many feet away. So yes you can use both for close up/macro photography, and I do. Knowing the capabilities of your lens or lenses will come in very handy over time.