Just Dew It – Fun with Macro Dewdrop Photography

The post Just Dew It – Fun with Macro Dewdrop Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Some things are practically guaranteed to make great photo subjects – dewdrops in the grass sparkling like diamonds in the morning sun, flowers and foliage wet with the rain, a closeup of dewdrops suspended in spiderweb-like pearls on a string or the crystal-ball look of a drop with a refracted image inside.  You can seek out such scenes in nature, or you can create your own miniature macro world.  However you do it, dewdrop photography will test your skills plus give you the reward of pleasing images, not everyone can make.  So let’s take a look at what, where, and how to “dew it.”

Image: When the morning light hits the dew-covered lawn it can be like searching for diamonds in the...

When the morning light hits the dew-covered lawn it can be like searching for diamonds in the grass.

Going natural

I’ve spent more than a few mornings lying in the grass with a macro lens mounted on my camera searching for the perfect dewdrop. I’ve also been out after the rain, looking for images where the drops have added a clean, fresh look with increased saturation to a subject. While often the subjects are found in nature, drops beaded on the surface of a freshly waxed car and other human-made objects can make for some great shots too.

Image: Many leaves will naturally bead water like the raindrops on this daylily. Raindrop photograph...

Many leaves will naturally bead water like the raindrops on this daylily. Raindrop photography is the “larger cousin” of dewdrop photography with no macro lens needed .

Image: A little spritz with a sprayer makes this rose look fresh and adds interest.

A little spritz with a sprayer makes this rose look fresh and adds interest.

Image: The fine hairs on a lupine leaf naturally beaded the water sprayed with a garden hose. 1/160...

The fine hairs on a lupine leaf naturally beaded the water sprayed with a garden hose. 1/160 sec. f/3.5 ISO100 with Tamron 90mm macro.

Image: Just add water to take a nice photo to the next level. Raindrops on the hood of this freshly-...

Just add water to take a nice photo to the next level. Raindrops on the hood of this freshly-waxed Jaguar add some extra pizzaz.

Hunting for such subjects is fun.  Like much of photography, it’s a matter of getting out with your camera when the conditions are right, often early in the morning in the case of dew or right after a rain shower.  Sometimes you’ll find some great subjects where the drops, the light, and the subject all come together.  I’ve not yet made the classic dew-drop-festooned-spider-web shot, but I’m still looking.  Luck plays a certain part in getting such shots. The fun is in the search. But sometimes when you want to leave it less to chance, that could be the time to…

Fake it to make it

You realize in those great movie rain scenes it wasn’t really raining when filming took place, right? So is it cheating when we as artistic photographers “enhance” our shots with the addition of raindrops or dewdrops? I think not. I guarantee the photographer created the vast majority of great dewdrop photos you’ve seen. Take two otherwise identical flower photos; the only difference being one is covered with dewdrops. The wet one will win the prize almost every time.

Drops sparkle, shimmer, refract light in interesting ways, and can take an image from “meh” to “wow!”  So if you haven’t already done so, consider adding a little spray bottle to your camera kit with some “magic juice” inside.

“Magic Juice?”

You can often use plain water to enhance your shot. If you’re simulating raindrops that might work okay. Spraying the foliage with the garden hose often works too. But when you want smaller, more rounded beads that hang where you place them and stay for a longer time without moving or evaporating, get some glycerine.

Image: Here’s the special ingredient for making photographer’s “Magic Juice....

Here’s the special ingredient for making photographer’s “Magic Juice.”

Often found in the baking section of the grocery store, glycerin is very transparent, much thicker than water, and just plain works better for photography. Use it straight from the bottle and apply where you like with an eyedropper, or mix one-part glycerine to two parts water for use in a spray bottle.

You can enhance the look of flowers and foliage, simulate condensation on glassware or other objects, give subjects a wet-look, enhance your food photography or even simulate sweat on human subjects if you need that look. Great stuff!

Image: Using the Live View mode of your camera can really help in getting critical focus.

Using the Live View mode of your camera can really help in getting critical focus.

Equipment needs

For more distant shots of things like raindrops, you might get by with standard, close-focusing lenses and also be able to work hand-held.  But dewdrops are tiny. When it’s time to get close, closer, and ultra-close, you’ll be entering the world of macro photography.  You will definitely need a tripod and one of several ways to get up close to your tiny subject:

Image: Here all three Kenko extension tubes (Canon, Nikon, Sony), plus a Canon 25mm tube, are all co...

Here all three Kenko extension tubes (Canon, Nikon, Sony), plus a Canon 25mm tube, are all combined with a Canon “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8 lens.  This gives 93mm of extension.  You can combine tubes in any sequence or combination depending on how close you need to get to your subject and how much magnification you’re seeking.

Standard Macro Lenses

Many lenses may state they have macro capability, but to truly be a macro lens, they should be able to create a 1:1 image. That means the image rendered on the camera sensor is the same size as the physical object or bigger. Full-frame cameras are called that because their sensor size is roughly equivalent to a full-frame of 35mm film, (24mm X 36mm), so if the lens you’re using can fill the frame with an object that’s about 35mm wide, it’s a true macro.

Here’s a quick test you can try: a U.S. quarter is 24.26mm in diameter. So, if you can focus on and fill the frame top to bottom with an uncropped shot of a quarter, you have a macro lens. On a crop sensor camera where the sensor is 14.9×22.2mm (Canon), a 1:1 shot of a quarter would more than fill the frame.

Image: Catching the light source in the drops with a small aperture produced a star effect. 3 tubes...

Catching the light source in the drops with a small aperture produced a star effect. 3 tubes plus Tamron 90mm macro. 1.6 sec. f/16, ISO 800

Extension Tubes/Bellows

Increasing the distance between your lens and camera sensor will have the effect of allowing you to focus closer than with the lens alone and thus appear to magnify the image.  Stacking multiple tubes or making the bellows longer will get you in even closer.  You can also get into macro territory with something simple like a 50mm prime lens plus an extension tube set.  Much less money than a dedicated macro lens!

Image: You can just see the end of the reversed Vivitar 28-105 zoom in this shot. Note how close I...

You can just see the end of the reversed Vivitar 28-105 zoom in this shot. Note how close I’m able to get the lens to my subject.

Image: Here’s what the reversed lens zoomed out to 28mm produced. Thinking backward helps here...

Here’s what the reversed lens zoomed out to 28mm produced. Thinking backward helps here – Wider zoom settings allow closer focusing than more zoomed settings.

Reversed lenses

Mount a lens backward on your camera and you will be able to get in much, much closer than you would otherwise.  I did a whole article on this technique which allows you to use even inexpensive old film camera lenses for great macro effects.

Image: A focusing rail like this simple Neewer unit can be especially helpful when working to get go...

A focusing rail like this simple Neewer unit can be especially helpful when working to get good focus with sliver-thin depth of field. It’s also excellent for making focus-stacked images where you take a shot, adjust focus slightly, make another shot, and repeat getting multiple focus points on the subject which are later combined to get more depth of field than is possible with a single shot.

Focusing rail

Working with tiny subjects and macro lens techniques, you will quickly find your depth of field is sliver-thin, sometimes only a few millimeters. Often rather than trying to focus as usual, (and forget about using auto-focus when making shots like this), physically moving the camera forward or back is the way to focus.

A focusing rail is a finely-geared device which, with the use of knobs, allows you to move the camera in and out in tiny increments. Like most camera gear, you can spend a lot on the sophisticated rails, and there are even computer-controlled versions for doing macros that focus-stack.

If you’re just entering the world of macro however, very serviceable versions can be had for under $50.00 US.

Image: With a depth of field only a few millimeters, sometimes focus stacking will be required to ge...

With a depth of field only a few millimeters, sometimes focus stacking will be required to get what you want in focus. This shot is a 5-image stack.

Lighting

With your lens so close to your subject, you will often be in your own light, and shading your subject. There are many ways to light macro subjects and no single “right” way. It’s simply a matter of what works.

Do you know that things like extension tubes and bellows reduce the light reaching the sensor? Most often, you will be stopping down your lens, seeking more depth of field. Adding more light or increasing the exposure time will often be required. One advantage of the latter is that a several second exposure can sometimes allow you to “light-paint” your subject.

I did many of the really close-up images in this article that way. I light-painted during the exposure with a simple LED flashlight.

macro-dewdrop-photography

Note the difference aperture makes. The shot at left is at f/22 while the one on the right is at f/5.6. The background is affected more that the refracted image in the drops.

In practice – a look at some samples

The following images show a tabletop session with glycerin “dewdrops” hanging from a strand of sewing thread. I used a combination of a macro lens (a Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di mounted on a Canon 6D camera), as well as a combination of extension tubes and a reversed old Vivitar 28-105mm zoom from my old Pentax ME Super film camera.

Some of the images used a combination of those devices stacked together in a quest to see just how close I could get. 

macro-dewdrop-photography

This is about as close as the Tamron 90mm macro alone could focus. The drops are tiny, so this probably is the 1:1 ratio the lens is capable of.

Image: Using this combination allowed the three-drop shot below.

Using this combination allowed the three-drop shot below.

Image: 3 extension tubes plus the Tamron Macro. 1.6 sec. f/16 ISO 800

3 extension tubes plus the Tamron Macro. 1.6 sec. f/16 ISO 800

Image: Combining the Tamron 90mm macro with all three extension tubes (for a total of 68mm of extens...

Combining the Tamron 90mm macro with all three extension tubes (for a total of 68mm of extension).

macro-dewdrop-photography

The reversed Vivitar film lens plus a 36mm extension tube focused close enough to fill the frame with two drops. The long exposure also allowed time to light-paint the sunflower. 15 seconds, f/22, ISO 100.

Bear in mind that the drops in the shot are really tiny, around 2-3mm, so filling the frame with a single drop was way more than a 1:1 magnification ratio.  If calculating the magnification factor is your bag, there are places with calculation tools to do that.  For example, for one image I used all my extension tubes, (a Kenko set with 12, 20, and 36mm tubes plus a Canon 25mm tube = total 93mm extension) and a Canon 50mm f/1.8 “nifty 50” prime.  Per the calculator, that produced about a 2:1 magnification ratio, filling the frame with about 3 of the drops.  I achieved the closest shot (below), with the reversed Vivitar at 28mm with the three Kenko tubes attached.  I figure it’s over 3:1, uncropped and almost filling the frame with a single drop.

macro-dewdrop-photography

To get this close with no cropping took all three (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm) extension tubes combined with the reversed Vivitar film lens at 28mm. The drop is only about 2mm wide.  This is also a 2-image focus stack, one for the drop and the other for the flower inside.

Take note of how in the images the drop acts like a tiny lens, refracting and inverting the image inside it.  If you want the image inside to be right-side-up, be sure to invert the real physical object before you snap the shot.  Also, with such limited depth of field, even a small aperture may not give you the range of focus you need.  Making shots like this will also give you a reason to learn focus-stacking techniques.

The captions on the shots reveal what I used to achieve each dewdrop photography image.  So, see what you can learn here, get your camera, maybe buy some entry-level macro gear and then… just go “dew” it!

Share the images you make with us in the comments section!

 

macro-dewdrop-photography

The post Just Dew It – Fun with Macro Dewdrop Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

871 Frozen-UV-Macro-Stereo-Photography

Don Komarechka is back on the show. This time he tells us about macro photography and about his latest book. The Kickstarter for it is almost finished.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Links:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

2019/2020 Photo Tours with Chris Marquardt
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 1
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 2
» Jun 2019: Silk Road Kyrgyztan
» Oct 2019: Romaina Fall Colors
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Big Ice Journey
» Mar 2020: Ethiopia, Omo Valley
» Apr 2020: Bhutan, The Untouched East
» Jun 2020: Kyrgyz Republic - Unbelievable Landscapes
» Sep 2020: Cappadocia
» all photo tours

The post 871 Frozen-UV-Macro-Stereo-Photography appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

774 Standardizing On Black And White

Chris takes a look at what you can achieve with an extension tube, why you should know that there are different kinds of extension tubes and how the professionals do their macro photography. There’s talk about Nikon CPU and non-CPU lenses and Chris will also use this episode to bring you something that he just talked about on another podcast: why if you’re going film, self developing it is essential when you shoot black and white.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Links:

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (sold out)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 774 Standardizing On Black And White appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

Getting Started with Abstract Macro Photography

Editor’s Note: This is part a series on macro photography this week. Look for a new one each day. The next newsletter will have them all if you miss any!

Lines and light can emphasise your subject

Lines and light can emphasize your subject

Macro photography truly is a unique genre of photography. In most of the other types of photography (landscape, portrait, sport, etc.) you want to get the context of your scene in the image. In macro photography, you can literally focus in on what’s important and remove any distractions by simply getting closer. One of the best things about macro photography is that you can do it anywhere, all you need is something to photograph. In my previous article: Getting Started Guide to Macro or Close-Up Photography, I went into some details about what you will need to get started in macro photography. Take a look at that article to be sure that you understand more about the genre of macro photography.

In this article we are going to be looking at getting great abstract images using macro photography.

Look for shape and colour

Look for shape and colour

What is abstract macro photography?

Abstract photography in general is about representing a subject in a non-literal way. The focus of abstract photography is more about colour, shape, and texture as opposed to the literal representation of the subject. Abstract macro photography, takes this to the next level by enabling you to get even closer to your subject, and therefore also able to be more abstract in a sense.

The same guidelines around composition apply, you can use the rule of thirds, curves, and lines to draw the viewer into the image. The difference is, the subject may not be immediately recognizable, your centre of interest might be a colour or a curve of a flower. So for abstract macro photography, you will need to think a little differently.

Abstract close up of a lily

Abstract close up of a lily

What will I need?

You will need a macro lens if you want to get in really close. You can use a prime lens like a 50mm, or even an 85mm lens, but for this type of work, a macro lens will work best. The reason is that you want be able to get in close enough to remove all distractions; in other words, you want to fill the frame with your subject. With a macro lens, you can do this. Most macro lenses have the ability to focus on subjects that are really close to the lens. The prime lenses can focus on subjects that are reasonably close, but you may not be able to get in close enough to remove the background.

You will also need to use a tripod. The close focusing ability of the macro lens means that it is very easy for your subject to become out of focus with the slightest movement. Ideally, you will want to have you camera set up with your macro lens mounted, then get that in as close as possible to your subject. Next, you will want to set your aperture to f/8, or higher, and then click onto manual focus to get your subject good and sharp in the frame.

Frayed rope abstract

Frayed rope abstract

What can I photograph?

For abstract macro photography, I find that organic items work best. By organic I mean flowers, wood, fruit, vegetables, and so on. That does not mean you can’t photograph an abstract macro image of a computer keyboard or a coffee cup, but sometimes, these well known shapes are difficult to transform into abstract images. If you are going to photograph a product like a computer or another manufactured product, try shooting it from a different angle or get in very close so that any telltale signs of what it is, will be lost. Ultimately, you can photograph anything that you think will work, but start out with some easy subjects first,  then move on to the trickier ones.

Buds about to bloom

Buds about to bloom

Try this…

Set up your subject and get your camera in position. Look through the viewfinder and start working on your composition. Try some of these pointers to get started and work from there:

  • Work on building your composition – are there any curves, lines, shapes ,or colours that you want to emphasize?
  • Use manual focus to bring even a small part of your image into sharp focus, this will be your centre of interest.
  • Make sure your centre of interest is obvious. In other words it should be in focus, it can be a different colour to the rest of the frame, or it can even be a well defined line or shape in the image
  • Check the exposure to make sure that you are exposing your scene correctly.
  • You can even overexpose slightly. In abstract macro photography, some slight overexposure is okay, as long as it does not distract from the rest of the image
  • Capture the shot
  • Try shooting the same image from a different angle and maybe even a different centre of interest.
  • Take as many images as possible, from different angles, with different focal points.
  • Choose the best three images and edit them in your chosen image editing software.

This is a great indoor project, but you can try this outside too. Shooting macro images outside can be more challenging as the subject may be affected by changes in lighting. If it is a flower or a plant, there may be a slight breeze which can move the flower as you are trying to photograph it. The most important thing is to try this type of photography if you can. It will cause you to think creatively and to look for different things in your image setup. Give it a try and load up your results below – let’s see what you get.

Abstract of a lily leaf

Abstract of a lily leaf


macro-coverWant to learn more about macro photography? Check out Ed Versosky’s Introduction to Close-Up & Macro Photography ebook – just $10 (over 30% off) this week with coupon code: DPS. You will need to enter the code to apply the discount.

The post Getting Started with Abstract Macro Photography by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Mirrorless, DSLR or Point and Shoot: Which Camera is Best for Macro Photography?

Editor’s Note: This is part a series on macro photography this week. Look for a new one each day. The next newsletter will have them all if you miss any!

Cameras

Macro photographers have a plethora of choices when it comes to selecting a camera with this feature. From DSLRs to even cell phones, the macro function is becoming a standard add-on to most forms of digital photography. But, when put to the test, which type of camera will give you the best macro photography results? This article compares the macro photography functions of a DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot camera to evaluate the pros and cons of using each to shoot extreme close-ups.

To start, can you tell which of the below images were shot with either a DSLR (Canon 6D with 100mm f/2.8 macro lens), mirrorless (Fujifilm x100s), or point-and-shoot (Olympus Stylus TG-2 Tough)? The answers, listed in sequential order below the image, may surprise you.

Fuj Oly Can

1) Fujifilm x100s

The image on the far left in the above montage was shot using the macro function of the Fujifilm x100s mirrorless camera. The x100s has a macro mode and can shoot images as close-up as 3.9 inches (10 cm). Accessing the macro mode is simple, requiring just a quick dial turn; the results can be seen below.

Fuj Dragon

Pros:

Besides being an attractive camera with its retro body, the x100s has become popular among both professional and amateur photographers, thanks to its high quality features and ability to produce stunning images with its fixed Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 lens. At 15.7oz (445g), this camera is significantly smaller and lighter than a DSLR, yet it is relatively more affordable costing around $900. It also offers a unique hybrid viewfinder, meaning shots can be taken using the built-in optical viewfinder, or an electronic one.

Fuj Flowers

Cons:

The fixed lens might bug some photographers since it can’t be swapped out, and the 23mm focal range means you have to get really close to your photo subject. This could produce shadows or block natural lighting, which can’t be overridden without purchasing the optional external flash unit. An additional possible grievance is the 3.9 inch maximum focusing distance. Some of the other cameras mentioned below allow you to get much closer.

These shots were taken at an aperture of f/2.8 using natural lighting, in JPG format (RAW shooting is also available) with no post-processing.

2) Olympus Stylus TG-2 Tough

This little camera shot the middle image in the above photo montage. One of the most sophisticated, prettiest, and most durable point-and-shoots on the market today is the Olympus Tough line. It is your best friend for taking high quality photos while engaging in extreme outdoor adventures, and it has a superb macro mode.

Oly Dragon

Pros:

Waterproof, freeze-proof, crushproof, and shockproof, the TG-2 also has a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and a high-speed f/2.0 lens. It is pocket-sized, although a little bulkier than most other point-and-shoots, and it only costs around $350 (TG-4 is the current model). This camera also has many shooting modes including two macro options: Super Macro and Underwater Macro. Both allow you to get as close as 1 cm to the photo subject, and additional magnification of up to 7x with the optical zoom, and 14x with Super Resolution zoom, which is closer than either the x100s or Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens offer. Its unique 5:1 magnification really makes macro photography a joy on this little camera.

Oly Flowers

Cons:

This is the only camera of the bunch that doesn’t offer RAW shooting or an optical viewfinder, but it is the only one that has a built-in flash. While the flash produces a balanced output in most situations, it isn’t helpful when shooting in macro mode since it tends to blow out the image due to being too close to the photo subject. Along those lines, shooting in macro mode on the TG-2 does require the camera to be very physically close to the subject, again making it easy to obstruct lighting.

3) Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

The final image on the far right of the montage above was snapped with the Canon 100mm macro lens. A newer version of this lens recently debuted featuring Image Stabilization and extra goodies, but the older model still boasts spectacular, sharp optics at a relatively lower price ($549 versus $899).

Can Dragon

Pros:

Canon has a small but mighty line of macro lenses, and the 100mm is arguably the best choice. Its longer focal length causes images to be rendered at 1:1 magnification, giving you more working distance so you don’t scare away your living photo subjects, or cast shadows. Since this lens is paired with a DSLR, image resolution can be up to an astounding 50.6 megapixels if it is used with the Canon 5DS. That’s a huge number compared to the 16.3 megapixels on the Fujifilm or 12 megapixels on the Olympus.

Can Flowers

Cons:

At 20.6 oz (584.2 g), the 100mm macro lens is by far the bigger, heavier, option of the three. With a cost of $550-899, and the requirement of using it with a Canon DSLR, this is also the most expensive macro photography tool.

Conclusion

So which camera option is the best for macro photography? It truly depends on how you define “best.” In moments when you need a compact option, the Fujifilm x100s or Olympus Tough point and shoot are the better options, the latter being the better deal for budget or extreme sports shooters. However, if high-quality, professional imagery is your goal, a DSLR with a macro lens is your best bet.


macro-coverWant to learn more about macro photography? Check out Ed Versosky’s Introduction to Close-Up & Macro Photography ebook – just $10 (over 30% off) this week with coupon code: DPS. You will need to enter the code to apply the discount.

The post Mirrorless, DSLR or Point and Shoot: Which Camera is Best for Macro Photography? by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Getting Started Guide to Macro or Close-Up Photography

Close up photos of flowers can make for interesting colours and shapes

Close-up photos of flowers can make for interesting colours and shapes

There is something magical about seeing a subject up close and personal. This opens up a whole new world of options for you as a photographer. Close-up photography, or macro photography, can be a very rewarding form of photographic expression. The great thing about it is that you can do this from your basement at home, if necessary. Of course you can, and should, go outdoors too and setup shots in a forest or at the sea, but you can also setup shots of everyday subjects and shoot them up close.

Think of an old watch, a flower or even some food items that could be shot on your kitchen table. The shapes, textures and colours come to life in the world of macro photography, but it can be tricky and fidgety. Sometimes beginners are put off by this aspect and assume they need specialist skills to make close-up images. This is not necessarily true. Like any other aspect of photography, you need to understand how your camera works, and work within the limits of the equipment you have. Do you NEED to have a macro lens? In short, no. There are a few other cheaper options that you can experiment with before investing in a macro lens. Let’s take a look at how you can get going in close-up photography. This is really an introduction article, and I will be putting together some more detailed articles on the various aspects of macro photography, but first, let’s start with the basics.

Sometimes overexposing or underexposing can add to the image

Sometimes overexposing or underexposing can add to the image

1. Get as close as you can

This sounds obvious, but try it. Set your camera up on a tripod, choose a subject (anything will do really) and get your camera up close to the subject. Switch your camera to Manual focus. You can try autofocus, but generally you will be able to focus a little closer on manual focus. If you are using manual focus, the tripod will be important. There is nothing worse than trying to get your subject in focus when you are off balance, or you keep moving, so use the tripod. Once you have your subject in clear focus, look at the composition, just as you would with any other image. Use the various composition guidelines to put your image together and take the shot.

This is just the beginning, you will find that you will make minor adjustments and shoot another shot and so on. I find that when I do close-up or macro photography I get lost in this small world of intimate details. When you look through the viewfinder, try and visualize it as a small world or a small landscape scene. Pretty soon you will find that you will be totally swept up in it and that is the fun part.

Getting in close will help to isolate the subject and throw the background out of focus

Getting in close will help to isolate the subject and throw the background out of focus

2. Do I need a macro lens?

To do some great close-up shots, you won’t need a macro lens. You can use almost any lens to make close-up images. Bear in mind that each lens has a minimum focusing distance. This can range from a few centimetres (1-3″) to half a meter (20″) depending on the lens. Telephoto lenses will have a longer minimum focusing distance, while medium range lenses (24-70mm) will have a closer focusing distance. The difference between macro lenses and non-macro lenses is that a macro lens has a much shorter focusing distance (30cm/1 foot or closer) in most cases.

Also, a macro lens has a magnification ratio of 1:1. What that means is that the lens can reproduce the subject onto the sensor at it’s actual life size. So if your subject is 20mm in size and it is captured as 20mm on the sensor, that means it has a 1 :1 ratio.  Some lenses can only reproduce a 1:2, or 1:3, ratio which means that the subject will be half the size or less, on the sensor, relative to the size of the subject. I would suggest that you try close-up photography with the range of lenses you have. See which one works best. Prime lenses are usually a good place to start as they have great clarity and sharpness. I used my 50mm f/1.8 for a long time before I invested in a macro lens. Once you feel that you are limited by your lenses or that you think macro photography is a genre you want to expand on, only then consider buying a macro lens.

This image was shot with an old 70-300mm lens at F4

This image was shot with an old 70-300mm lens at f/4

3. What can I photograph?

The beauty of close-up photography is that – when one properly, a shot of a cup of coffee can be fascinating.  Suddenly the pattern in the latte cream looks amazing, the bubbles and cup shape become very intriguing. We very rarely look at everyday subjects up close and when we do, they can be really interesting. The same is true for flowers, an aged piece of wood, electronic goods, even a knife and fork, just about anything can become a subject for macro photography.

Some of the more challenging subjects are those that move. Subjects like insects, flowers, leaves, grasses and any other subject that is outdoors. For these, you will need more patience and better timing. Photographing a close up of a flower on a windy day will be really tough. If you want to do macro photography outdoors, maybe start off doing it on a windless day or in a sheltered area. Alternatively, you could go and buy some cut flowers and set them up in a vase, setup the shot and take a few images. The controlled environment of the flowers in a vase will make things much easier. Insects are even more challenging. They sit still for very short periods and move very quickly.

The name of the game to get good insect macro shots, is to be patient. To get some honeybee images in the past, I have set up my camera on a flower and attached my cable release. I then manually focused the lens to the flower and simply waited until a bee or another insect was in the right place and snapped off a few shots. Generally one in ten shots were usable and I was pretty happy with that, but they take time and patience.

Be patient and set up your shot beforehand when shooting insects

Be patient and setup your shot beforehand when photographing insects

4. Where to from here?

I found that I really enjoyed close-up photography. Once I got into it, I spent many hours trying to get some unusual images of flowers or insects. You may find this too. Get your tripod, cable release, choice of lens and set up a scene either indoors or outdoors. Get in a close as you can and start working with the scene. Change your depth of field until you are happy with what is in focus and what is out of focus. If you are using a macro lens, be careful about shooting with a very shallow depth of field. F/2.8 will mean that a VERY thin sliver of your scene is in focus, and that can be difficult to work with at first. Start at f/8 and work from there.

Experiment with different exposures, sometimes a slightly overexposed macro scene can look good, so play around with that. Above all, have some fun. Use it as an exercise in learning more about photography, and try and get some dynamic images too! In a future article, I will go into more details about settings and exposure modes. In the mean time, start shooting some close up images and let’s see how things look.

A close up of a poppy flower, the details are what is mesmerising!

A close-up of a poppy flower, the details are what is mesmerising!

For more information on macro or close-up photography check out these dPS article:

The post Getting Started Guide to Macro or Close-Up Photography by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Wedding Photography: Shooting The Rings

This bride and groom are both serving in the army, and both are gun enthusiasts. I asked the groom if he had their guns handy, and a bullet, and came up with this shot as one of the ring shots. This shot was taken in available light, under a tent outdoors.  EOS 5D Mark III with EF 100mm f/2.8L IS; ISO 2500, f/16, 1/125.

This bride and groom are both serving in the army, and both are gun enthusiasts. I asked the groom if he had their guns handy, and a bullet, and came up with this shot as one of the ring shots. This shot was taken in available light, under a tent outdoors. EOS 5D Mark III with EF 100mm f/2.8L IS; ISO 2500, f/16, 1/125.

In my career in photography, I’ve chosen not to focus on weddings as a business model, and shoot only a few every year.  I try to avoid being “traditional” in my approach to weddings, mixing traditional shots or types of shots with my own approach- which may or may not have been borrowed from other photographers I have worked with.

One such shot is the ring shot. It is what’s known as a detail shot, and while this may not be the most important shot of the wedding, it is one of the shots that helps sets the tone of an album, and can allow for a lot of creativity if you have the time.  If the shot fails, it will definitely be noticed.

The bride and groom in this wedding had a special affinity for the beach, and brought a beach theme to their wedding. Shells were scattered about the tables. I selected a few and quickly shot the rings on a table. The room was brightly lit with daylight pouring in the windows nearby, and I set my flash to bounce off the ceiling to add just a touch more light. . EOS-1D X, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 800, 1/250, f/5.6.

The bride and groom in this wedding had a special affinity for the beach, and brought a beach theme to their wedding. Shells were scattered about the tables. I selected a few and quickly shot the rings on a table. The room was brightly lit with daylight pouring in the windows nearby, and I set my flash to bounce off the ceiling to add just a touch more light. . EOS-1D X, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 800, 1/250, f/5.6.

There are many ways to go about these types of shots, some more cliche than others. The one that always comes to mind is a shot of the rings resting on the invitation, or the rings casting a shadow of a heart on a Bible opened to 1st Corinthians. My preference is to find something personal that connects the rings to the bride and groom, or else I’ll pull something from the theme of the day.  It may take some digging with your clients to find that personal connection- maybe a story about how they met, or something they share together, but once you find it, it can make shooting the ring shot a lot more fun. If I can’t find a personal connection, I’ll use flowers, the bouquet, or a even a champagne cork.  Be creative. There are a lot of ways to photograph wedding rings that will make them stand out.

There was no overriding theme at this wedding, and as a second shooter I didn't have time to get to know the bride and groom. I found a flower arrangement and played with several arrangements before settling on this one. EOS 5D Mark III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. I bounced the flash off the ceiling for this shot. ISO 800, f/8, 1/200.

There was no overriding theme at this wedding, and as a second shooter I didn’t have time to get to know the bride and groom. I found a flower arrangement and played with several arrangements before settling on this one. EOS 5D Mark III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. I bounced the flash off the ceiling for this shot. ISO 800, f/8, 1/200.

Technically, while a macro lens is helpful, it’s not absolutely necessary.  You can highlight the rings in whatever setting you choose, but be careful not to let them get lost in the setting.    Typically I use a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens, but any lens that will let you get fairly close will work, depending on your composition. Ideally, I would use off-camera flash every time, but weddings tend to me fast moving events, and there isn’t always time to do it the way you’d prefer.  In this case, I’ll set up a small reflector or bounce card to bounce the flash and give a better quality light.  I will often try several angles to get different looks.  Outdoor weddings during the day are a bit easier. I’ll look for a shaded area and shoot the rings in the available light.

Ring shots are often my most fun shot of the day.  There’s no one stressing about their hair or makeup, and no one trying to pull their attention in a different direction.  So use the ring shot as your moment of peace on an otherwise busy day, and have some fun with it.

This shot was also from the military wedding. The bride and groom are knife enthusiasts as well. The groom gave me one of his knives and I played with a few arrangements before shooting this one. EOS 5D Mark III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 3200, f/9, 1/125.

This shot was also from the military wedding. The bride and groom are knife enthusiasts as well. The groom gave me one of his knives and I played with a few arrangements before shooting this one. EOS 5D Mark III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 3200, f/9, 1/125.

This is another set up from the military wedding.  His 'n' hers .45's.  This shot doesn't require a macro lens, though I used the EF 100mm f/2.8L. EOS 5D Mark II, Ef 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 3200, f/16, 1/160.

This is another set up from the military wedding. His ‘n’ hers .45′s. This shot doesn’t require a macro lens, though I used the EF 100mm f/2.8L. EOS 5D Mark II, Ef 100mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 3200, f/16, 1/160.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Wedding Photography: Shooting The Rings

tfttf599 – The Show’s Greatest Fan

Today: an interview with Photographer Ben Shirk, we’ll meet the youngest fan of TFTTF, there’s a quick hello from the folks at Radiolab and Chris will talk about Macro Ratios on crop sensors. Show Links: Video: St. Louis City Museum … Continue reading

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