Friday, May 20, 2011

camera button friday: macro...and with a flash

It seams that I am on a renewed macro kick.  Maybe it is all these pretty things growing out of the ground.

Depending on your camera, you may have a macro setting but the real important part is to get as close as you can...sometimes that means buying a macro lens, or using one of the many adapters or hacks out there.  Point and Shoot cameras actually have a great macro feature to them, so don't feel like you need to buy a ton of stuff.  Oh, and it is worth mentioning here; all the normal 'rules' of composition, and lighting still apply.

How To:
My default technique is simple to explain, but always a challenge to do: I simply manual focus my lens as close as I can and then move my body close to a subject until it is in focus. It takes a little getting used to but soon enough you will learn the distance you need to be from your subject to get it to be in focus.  One hard part is the exact focus, so I take A LOT OF PHOTOS for each subject, then only after I get home and I am looking at them big on my computer is when I choose the best one.

I don't often take macro shots like the above image...unless I have a really fast shutter speed...even then they rarely come out great.  Here is the image from above:

Some people say you need a tripod for macro but I don't like how it slows me down, so I compromise a shallow Depth of Field for a faster shutter speed.  Most people give up on macro photography very fast because the images are not sharp, this is mostly to do with the fact that you do not have enough light in order to have a fast enough shutter speed.

The creative element is where you get unique camera angles, complimenting elements in the frame or something that has never been seen before.

Incorporating flash into macro work is something I have read about several times, but I have never tried because I don't liked the look it creates. Flash is mostly used to add light for better exposure and therefore a greater depth of field, but what I don't like is that usually causes the background to be underexposed (sometimes even completely black because the flash won't light it) which I do not like because it looks to fake or like a studio.  But why mimic others when you don't like the outcome?

Unless you try something different that you would like.

This time I took my flash and used it on a TTL cord which allows me to take the flash off the camera and place it somewhere at a 90 degree angle to my subject...or in the case of the last image below, behind the subject.  This was great for the type of day we had too, with flat light a little added flash makes things have an edge, like the sun is grazing the subject from the side.

Light on left side, slightly behind flower making it glow

Light on right side, on the ground skimming the grass

Light on left side, slightly behind making the dead flower glow

 Light below and behind, shining through the leaf

The image below is an experiment that, after many attempts and help holding the flash, eventually worked!  I wanted to take a long exposure of the water, so that it looks all soft and flowing, but I also wanted to freeze I added a flash.  I had the flash covered with a golden gel (a full and 3/4 CTO) to change it color so that where it hit the water it looks different than the color of the rest of the image.  Again, having the light come from the side is very important so that it only grazes part of the water and not the entire face.

Light on right side side, in line with the water falling

The unique aspect of macro photography is that you can take pictures of the most common things with a perspective that allows the viewer to see things in a very new way...especially things that may even have an 'ugly' connotation.

The important part is to keep playing, having fun and finding interesting things to take pictures of. 

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