Photography Tips & Techniques forum→Macro (maybe) Explorations

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Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Mar 15, 2020 12:58 PM CST
Many of the most amazing photos out there fall into the Macro (or almost macro) genre.

This thread is to explore macro photography, try out some various approaches and techniques, share ideas and frustrations, and encourage each other to keep trying--it might not be easy, yet it sure can be fun!

**Here's an excellent primer for beginners--wish I had read this a few years before now D'Oh! but, it's never too late to learn something new Hilarious!
https://photographylife.com/ma...

Here's an epic fail that I tried in '16
Thumb of 2020-03-15/dirtdorphins/575000
Pentax K-3, Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8, at F 8, 1/180, ISO 800--full frame top to bottom, sides cut off for square crop; hand-held and shot as jpeg because I didn't know about RAW then...really dark photo that I barely managed to coax this out of.
Tried again with more ambient light on the subject a few days later
Thumb of 2020-03-15/dirtdorphins/390479
and then gave up Hilarious!
Although I don't have any flowering cabbage now, I do have some different things to try the next time I go for raindrops--shoot RAW, better light, and something to stabilize the camera Rolling my eyes. Whistling
also need to figure a better angle...


Tiny critters are perhaps over-represented as subject material, given that they practically demand a macro view to be truly seen...

Very nice example of focus stacking and digital darkroom manipulation here:
pikaia said:Thumb of 2020-02-20/pikaia/99a59e

This is a hoverfly on a daylily, with the flower itself providing the background. I changed the flower colour from yellow to cream to increase the contrast with the subject. It is actually produced from four images stacked to give better depth-of-field.

Canon 7Dii, Laowa 100mm lens, 1/6000sec, f6.7, ISO1600.


We don't have any focus stacking software or skilled editing capabilities--still though, Asa's 'hairy eyeball bee' was just printed (large!) on metallic paper and I gotta say she is really an incredibly gorgeous shimmering beauty to behold Lovey dubby
evermorelawnless said:
Thumb of 2020-02-25/evermorelawnless/fd00f2

This also taken with
Pentax K-3, Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8, at F 5, 1/160, ISO 800
He really does some amazing work with moving the camera in/out to 'face-focus'...perhaps he will join us here to explain better than I can, and share some more.

Focus, where I think I want it, is definitely the hardest part for me Sighing!
How about you?
Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
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deepsouth
Mar 15, 2020 1:41 PM CST
Focus -

get the camera set-up, adjust angles then manual focus somewhere in the middle of the field

since what is off-camera never really matters, but can aid in the shot ....what I mean by "adjust angles" is to adjust the subjects angle - to be inline with the lens angle & the focus plane of the camera

most anything can be used to manipulate the subjects angle, from hobbyist vises, to vise grips, to kneaded putty, to stacks of wood / coins / plastic ...or even hanging from above

then use "sharpening" in the last steps of processing (usually no more than 25%)

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AnnKNCalif
Mar 15, 2020 3:53 PM CST
Thank you dirt for starting this thread!

I enjoyed taking photos of my roses over the last year after getting a Fujifilm X-T3 cropped sensor camera. I love the Fuji's simplicity with its manual dials on the top of the camera which is reminiscent of old film cameras like my Nikkomat from the 1970s. My favorite lens has been the 23mm f/2 which is equivalent to a 35mm full frame lens. I've been able to achieve some degree of close up photos but I never achieve the sharpness I'm looking for. I took the following photo with my 23mm lens;

Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/6fb4d4

I played with the color and cropped the photo to get a more creative look but the leaf isn't as sharp as I'd like. I love to have a photo that is already a close up, where the leaf is sharp, and the droplets have super clarity so you can see through them.

Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/c53f22

My normal inclination is to walk up to a flower and get close enough to see the detail, then take a photo. I just got an 80mm f/2.8 macro lens (it weighs a ton and I've nicknamed it "The Beast") and took several hundred bad, blurry pics of lilacs and a few other spring flowers. Here are a few pics that I thought were ok.

Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/f12f8c
Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/6f5138
Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/af8ef9
Cropped version of the photo above.
Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/6c1e11
This one might be my favorite so far but sharpness drops off at the bottom of the leaf.
Thumb of 2020-03-15/AnnKNCalif/dc5f7c

With autofocus, the closest I can get to the subject is about 9 inches to the subject. My better photos are at f/22 so far. I love The Beast but I have a lot to learn!

Any feedback would be very much appreciated!

Ann

Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Growing under artificial light Ferns Garden Photography
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deepsouth
Mar 15, 2020 4:32 PM CST

hey Ann ...

I think your shots are fine .... and frankly I didn't notice any out of focus

have to ask, are you using a tripod for your close-ups ?

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AnnKNCalif
Mar 15, 2020 5:20 PM CST
Thanks deepsouth!

I don't own a tripod so everything I shoot is hand held. Do you recommend a tripod?

Ann

P.S. dirt - thanks for the macro article!
[Last edited by AnnKNCalif - Mar 15, 2020 5:22 PM (+)]
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Name: Asa
Wasatch Front - Utah
Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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evermorelawnless
Mar 15, 2020 5:20 PM CST
The wonder of a true macro lens (1:1 or better on the sensor/film) is the minimum focusing distance. Otherwise it just acts as a pretty heavy, high-quality prime lens.

In other words, at two or three feet, expecting something special or "macro-ish" from a "macro" lens is...wrong.

The flipside of that is that the 80-105mm "macro" lenses (generally f/2.8) are some of the best portrait lenses around - not because you're shooting macros of faces - but because the glass (and all else) is normally so fantastic in these primes.

This is a really, really, really important point in this discussion (at least in terms of (D)SLRs). If what I'm saying isn't making sense, please have me try again.
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

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Name: Asa
Wasatch Front - Utah
Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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evermorelawnless
Mar 15, 2020 5:31 PM CST
Two more things for the record (kinda like warranting arguments):

1. You're taking a 1:1 macro if whatever you're shooting top to bottom is about the size of a US Quarter. 25mm, I think. Two quarters side-by-side and you're shooting 1:2 (which is still a super close-up), and so on.

The closer you get to something, the narrower your plane of focus (that chunk of space that's in focus) is going to be. So you could be shooting a landscape at f/8 and most everything would be in focus (at or near infinity). But if you were shooting a flower the size of a quarter - at minimum focusing distance at f/8 - you might only get 1/16th of an inch slice in focus. And as you back out, that slice becomes wider (no matter the f-stop).

That's probably the reason that the focus drops off near the bottom of that leaf - it's behind that slice of focus. See that bee of mine that Dirt posted. That's very nearly a 1:1 shot (maybe 1:1.4 or something) and I'm guessing I have 1-2mm of focus slice in it (wide open at f/2.8).
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

My bee site - I post a new, different bee photo every day:
http://bees.photo
Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Growing under artificial light Ferns Garden Photography
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deepsouth
Mar 15, 2020 5:49 PM CST

Yes ...I recommend a tripod .... in fact, the heavier it is, the better ....heavier as in "stoutness"

in fact I would recommend a tripod for anyone that shoots close-up ...and its one of those "must haves" for anyone thinking about getting into macro

the closer we get (and bigger the subject gets) - the more shake there is ...a tripod will steady that ...allowing for clearer shots ....

another plus ...say we are all set-up to take a shot ...and a wind picks-up ...while waiting out the wind, we can relax our arms .... while the camera is at ready

Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019 Photo Contest Winner 2020
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dirtdorphins
Mar 15, 2020 6:35 PM CST
deepsouth said:Focus -

get the camera set-up, adjust angles then manual focus somewhere in the middle of the field

since what is off-camera never really matters, but can aid in the shot ....what I mean by "adjust angles" is to adjust the subjects angle - to be inline with the lens angle & the focus plane of the camera

most anything can be used to manipulate the subjects angle, from hobbyist vises, to vise grips, to kneaded putty, to stacks of wood / coins / plastic ...or even hanging from above

then use "sharpening" in the last steps of processing (usually no more than 25%)


Sure, all good for one inanimate object -- not so much for the busy bees
One of these days I am going to try to focus on just one thing at a time Thumbs up pun indended Smiling
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019 Photo Contest Winner 2020
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dirtdorphins
Mar 15, 2020 6:35 PM CST
Hah, yes--tripods make a world of difference! but, not all that convenient for me to use when I'm running around trying to get 'everything' before the cloud goes away...or Asa catching bees...so, not mandatory.

So Ann, do come to accept that the closer you get to something the smaller your depth of field is--
from that article linked: "At 1:1 magnification, your depth of field may be so thin that you can't get a fly's head and feet both to appear sharp at the same time, even though they are just millimeters apart!"

And here is Asa's bee at an approximately 2000x2000 pixel crop
Thumb of 2020-03-16/dirtdorphins/121ce3
glory bee--who knew they had such hairy eyeballs???--anyway, you can see how thin that little slice of focus is, literally just 1-2mm, and just a few parts that fell in that plane.


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AnnKNCalif
Mar 16, 2020 11:09 AM CST
Thank you to everyone!

deepsouth - In thinking about the tripod, I've concluded that at the moment my photography doesn't lend itself to a tripod unless I plan ahead. During rose season, there's a narrow window of time in the morning when the sun hits my garden and there's sufficient light to photograph my roses which is mostly when I take pics. I run around and do my best to get all the roses I can within about an hour. I've got 180 roses so there's always something to photograph. Also, many of my roses are about 3-4 ft tall so setting up a tripod that low might be a challenge for my "hip precautions" (I had hip replacement surgery last year). That being said, I'm very ready to start photographing new and completely different things beyond my garden, and learning new techniques. I'll be keeping the tripod in mind.

evermorelawnless - Thank you for your help! I generally understand what you're saying and will be pursuing my macro knowledge further. One of my goals this year is to understand both my camera and lenses as much as possible to really know what I'm doing. Your input is appreciated!

dirt- Thanks! I didn't realize how sensitive depth of field is. It's truly amazing!

Ann



Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Mar 16, 2020 12:14 PM CST
The higher the F-stop the better the DOF. By using the tripod I can use a high F-stop like 22 and a slow shutter speed. The last photo shows you just how tiny these flowers are.

Thumb of 2020-03-16/Xeramtheum/920bce

Thumb of 2020-03-16/Xeramtheum/ba5e87

Thumb of 2020-03-16/Xeramtheum/9604ed

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William
Mar 16, 2020 2:32 PM CST

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In calm weather you can photograph using a tripod in much, much lower light than what you can do handheld, so the two methods can actually complement each other nicely. Smiling

For me, when I use a tripod, I like a long macro lens the best. 150 mm is okay, but the longer the better. Often (not always!) a short macro lens is very limiting on a tripod. I would avoid it, if at all possible. For larger subjects long telephoto lenses are even better, provided they can focus close enough. I use a 300mm f2.8 all the time for larger subjects, often with a teleconverter. This is not for ease of use, but rather it is to get a smooth background. Of course one doesn't need to invest in such fast and heavy glass, just to shoot floral subjects as a zoom will do too! I just use what I happen to own.

A geared head is also great as it allows great precision when adjusting the camera. Most people start buying a poor quality tripod and head, and then need to buy something better. This includes me. D'Oh! Actually I have 3 tripods, The Berlebach wooden mini tripod is my favorite, but sometimes it is just too short, so then I use a Manfrotto. Unfortunately the one I got has a center column... avoid center columns at all costs if you ever want to use your tripod low to the ground. Grumbling The last one is a huge wooden beast, sturdy, but nothing for general macro use.
Starting over I would buy just one tripod, that goes low to the ground, without a center column and that you can adjust easily. If it has fiddly leg locks it is no good.

Of course there is a time for everything, handheld, tripod, flash. Why limit yourself when you can have it all?

Not really macro, but because the subject of larger subjects as roses has come up:
Thumb of 2020-03-16/William/53688d
Iris Bottle Rocket
Nikon D300 + 300 f2.8 + 1.4TC, 0.4 seconds, f/9, ISO 200, Tripod, because who can handhold this rig for 0.4 seconds and get it sharp? Yes you can rise the ISO, but that lowers image quality.

Thumb of 2020-03-16/William/22ba39
Bumble bee at 3x, focus stack of two images, hand held with flash.

As magnification goes up and especially if the subject is moving a little, then handheld and flash is the way to go. It allows much faster adjustment than a tripod ever can. The use of flash and focus stacking allows enough depth of field even at this high magnification. Natural light is not the way to go here, nor is tripod.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Never understood why we have to use just one method to photograph. Smiling



Name: Asa
Wasatch Front - Utah
Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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evermorelawnless
Mar 16, 2020 3:40 PM CST
AnnK,

I understand your reservations about a tripod. I don't use one all that much myself, but if you're going to shoot, you need one eventually.

For shooting in the morning, I'll often use a monopod (have to be quick, like you say) and a long lens that shoots "macro" at 1:2. Often a 300mm, sometimes a 200mm (70-200mm). - I think William is spot-on.

That method works pretty well for me - and is a fair compromise. The monopod is pretty agile, helps you hold still, and the longer lenses can have fantastic effects (tho I've not figured out how to make mine William-esque ;) )- especially when you're going after single blossoms.
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

My bee site - I post a new, different bee photo every day:
http://bees.photo
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Only dead fish go with the flow!
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Xeramtheum
Mar 16, 2020 6:11 PM CST
Here is the fix for auto focus woes:

https://garden.org/thread/view...

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
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Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Growing under artificial light Ferns Garden Photography
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deepsouth
Mar 16, 2020 6:21 PM CST

I too use a monopod - and yes its quick & easy ... and if I want total freedom from it ...I just "quick disconnect" -
that same "quick disconnect" feature is also on my tripod

but - using a monopod, need to really think ahead in the near future about setting it down or leaning it against something with a camera + lens attached ....
by it-self a monopod will prop against most anything ...but add any camera with any lens and they get top heavy

I use the Nikon D300 + 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6 Micro-Nikkor ....total weight is 4.7 lbs ..... may not sound that much ...but after 10 minutes its a work-out

sometimes use a Nikon 5T & 6T Close-up Lens ...either: individually or stacked ..... in any configuration, the "shake" is "amplified" so much, that the only cure is a tripod or monopod ....


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AnnKNCalif
Mar 17, 2020 9:48 AM CST
Thanks William! Learning about the varied methods for taking good photos is one of my goals. I saw a Youtube video showing a hand held flash that brightens the bloom compared to the background. I'd love to try that but need to buy the right flash type and learn to use it.

Xeramtheum - thank you for your photo examples and the link!

deepsouth - I looked up monopods and it's another item on my checklist to investigate. My local camera store is closed for now but I'll check into it later this year.

Ann
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Mar 17, 2020 3:07 PM CST
Anne, I liked your link to tips for dealing with auto-focus, especially
Spend the week with your camera manual and camera and learn how to use the different focus modes

That's probably the biggest problem with my photography lately, not knowing and taking advantage of everything my camera can do. I've had it for 2 years, ohmygosh 3 years now, so there's really no excuse! (Sony DSCHX90V.. it's one of those "bridge" cameras, more zoom and more features than a point & shoot, but no changing lenses like a DSLR, and between both in terms of size)

I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019 Photo Contest Winner 2020
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dirtdorphins
Mar 17, 2020 3:12 PM CST
Ah yes, tiny flowers!
Thumb of 2020-03-17/dirtdorphins/e8cea5
I guess I did try one with supplemental lighting and the new, old lens--f/8, 1/125, 200mm
handheld and cropped

Some day I am going to have 'good-enough' low light Crossing Fingers! then, I'm going to bust out the tripod and aim for something William-esque



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GrammaChar
Mar 17, 2020 3:52 PM CST
I got a macro lens hoping to capture those teeny-tiny bugs (like native bees).



Like Dirt, I also use it for little flowers,

Thumb of 2020-03-17/GrammaChar/5b8d4e

Thumb of 2020-03-17/GrammaChar/3f5de3

and occasionally a butterfly.

Thumb of 2020-03-17/GrammaChar/a4daa5

I'll admit that the focus can be tricky and I need a lot more practice.

GrammaChar

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