f3.2 1/125 sec. ISO 125
Got The Bug? Figuratively and Literally? Let’s explore this interesting technique over a series of posts to come…
The world of closeup photography is one in which is alive, and very accessible to everyone with a camera. By this I mean finding a world you may not know existed and using what you have to capture it.
In coming posts, I will show you ways I get in close. Since I own a Coolpix, I will use that as well, and maybe show you a tip you never thought of. This series of posts are strictly for beginners and not for all readers of GWGT. I want to share what I have learned and hope it can help some of you along the way.
The macro world is a much more beautiful world than the one in which we find ourselves at this time of year. As everything is turning shades of brown or gray, it might require looking closer, and boy is that worth it. Many have heard photographers say, “any photograph can be improved by moving closer to the subject.” That always seems to be the big tip too.
My aim is a bit more practical and I will include some camera settings also.
f5.6 1/100 sec. ISO 250 A true macro image, a 1:1 ratio. DSLR images with a 60mm macro lens unless where noted.
I find myself exploring even what is right in front of me, finding a different way of seeing it by moving in really close. But how close? My guess is most don’t get close enough to really define the subject.
To define true macro work, it really is seeing in inches, where real world subjects are captured about the same size as they exist in real life. But closeup photography has a greater scope of what is considered close. I will explore that with you in an upcoming post.
I rarely see where anyone, pro or hobbyist, takes you through ways to get in close, using things like extension tubes (affordable), diopter (moderate cost, but hard to use without a good and versatile tripod), zoom lenses, or macro lenses (most costly). A diopter is an optical element that is placed in front of a prime or zoom lens which increases the lens’ magnification.
Different camera gear gets you different results. My posts are geared to beginners, but some of this equipment is used by professionals.
I use many equipment options, and over the course of the next couple of months, will take you through how I use this equipment. Sure, pros might be a better resource, but few offer up their equipment or settings.
I learned some of this on Kelby Training from a well-known pro, Bill Fortney. I also have an e-book by Rob Sheppard, a well-known photographer and naturalist. His blog is Nature and Photography. My posts will be a combination of what I have known over the years, along with what I learned from these two photographers.
I have learned from Rob Sheppard,”if you aren’t getting down and dirty, you probably are not shooting close enough.” Another thing many do not do, is shoot at a low angle or eye level with the subject, especially when most own cameras that can do this very easily.
f4 1/125 sec. ISO 2500 High Key blowout
Other things I have learned through architecture which translates into photography, is consider your context. That will be another valuable tip where the macro subject includes a bit of its environment. That leads to story telling. I will try to capture some of these images on my trip and see if I can relate my experience through my images.
f8 1/30 sec. ISO 400
And of course, what about lighting? There is so much of interest in the small world where light sneaks in, or back lights a subject. Dramatic light can create some interesting composition, but poses exposure challenges. There are ways to address this that do not cost much, but makes the harsh daylight images possible on these tiny subjects. Plus with macro work, adding light is necessary, so flash is used. What if we explore that?
f8 1/160 sec. ISO 100
My first post on the subject of macro work will show you how to recognize if you are even doing it or if you need to get in closer. It is based on ratios and how the subject fills the frame of the camera sensor. This is based on Kelby Training courses. This post will also show what is in my camera bag that comes in handy is shooting closeup subjects.
f5 1/125 sec. ISO 320 Ball Python photographed today at a studio shoot. No tripod used on location. I used Flash and was very close to the reptile. The lens was a 17mm-35mm wide-angle to make this closeup shot.
I will touch on using the tripod for clarity of focus and also going without. I rarely use a tripod because I need the fluidity of freedom to be able to make slight movements important for composition and also for capturing moving insects. Most of today’s images were shot using a tripod, although a couple were not.
Then there is the rule of thirds and how does that affect your composition. Most macro images are shot dead center, but a little off-center or weighted to one side makes for a nicer photo. The same with a directionally framed image. Time to remove that bull’s eye off the subject.
Coolpix image of lichen, no tripod. Did you know lichen is a composite organism, one composed of a fungus and a photosynthetic organism, like alga? I see another post coming…
How about intentionally selecting a background or eliminating it? That might be as simple as changing the f-stop or using a different lens. Other cases, it is selecting a simple enough background to showcase your subject. Or think of having a choice of muted color or bokeh? So many possibilities in the small world.
f5 1/125 sec. ISO 320 Speedlight bouncing off the ceiling. Model with Ball Python, shot in the studio against a white background during a shoot with my camera club. Yep guys, she is nude. Sorry for the tight shot, but GWGT is PG.
I hope to pass along things that might improve your percentage of getting the photo you really want, not one that happens by chance.
I was just talking to a friend about this and finding out that one simple thing was preventing her from getting her closeup images. I will pass that tip along to you in my posts on focus and depth of field. I bet many of you are doing exactly what she was doing. I myself did it too for the longest time. Once you develop a habit, it sticks with you, so why not make it a good one?
f3.5 1/125 sec. ISO 125
So if you want some tips like Photographing Hummingbirds in Flight – Useful Tips, stop back for my exploration of Macro photography.