Written and macro images by: Justin Tedford, Class Instructor
We may have woken up to sleet and some ice this morning but it’s still spring! Noting goes better with spring than dusting off our macro lens. Macro photography can open a whole new world photographically. You start to see things differently and notice the slightest changes and details in your subject. Macro can also be a challenge. There are may things we should t take into consideration as well. I am going to discuss a few of the things that can be challenge as well as some ideas and gear that will help you get some great macro shot this spring and through the summer.
Lenses and Extension Tubes
Camera and lens manufactures produce usually more than one focal length of macro lenses. Generally the most popular focal lengths are 90mm and 100mm depending on your subjects. When purchasing your first macro lens you may want to think about what subjects you are wanting to photograph. If you are looking to photograph insects or little creatures you may want look at purchasing a focal length of 100mm or greater like a 180mm. If you are just going to focus on flowers or other objects that mind your there a focal length of 60mm or 90mm will be just fine. Lenses are a investment and sometimes your budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of a macro at the time you are wanting one. Don’t worry, there are other options . Introducing extension tubes! You may be wondering what is an extension tube. An extension tube is a hollow cylinder that attaches between your camera and lens. This allows for the lens to be moved away from the sensor of the camera and lets the lens focus closer. Extension tubes are a great way to get started. You can use these with your current kit lens or a prime lens like a 50mm f1.8 which works great with set of extension tubes. A good set of three will only set you back around a $100.00 and they will still allow you to auto focus if you choose.
That three-legged thing we call a tripod
The most important item out side of our macro lens or set of extension tubes is the three-legged thing we call a tripod. You may feel that a tripod is bulky and heavy, that it is. But again it is the most important piece of gear we use for macro. We don’t want to go cheap on our tripod. Spending around $169.99 will get you a great steady tripod. We need to keep our shots tack sharp and our tripod will help with this. Some times we are going to want a greater depth of field in our images. When we do this our shutter speeds may drop low enough that we just can’t hand hold our images. The tripod is now going to allow us to achieve a tack sharp image we are looking for. Some macro lenses are equipped with image stabilization. Image stabilization and the use of a tripod at the same time can actually work against you a produce and blurry image.
Telling our story
We photograph to tell a story, and there are many ways to do it. In macro why not tell the story through your aperture and the use of depth of field. We can decide when photographing our subject if we want a greater depth of field to show more of our subject or a shallower depth of field and only show a few specific details of our subject. I like to photograph my macro subjects in Aperture Priority mode. This allows me to control my depth of field and the camera will control my shutter. Being on a tripod I won’t have to worry about my shutter speed too much. You still need watch it so it doesn’t get to slow if you have a slight breeze blowing that it wont blur your subject.
The best accessory you should have in your bag is a shutter release. This will help so you don’t move your camera causing unnecessary blur in your images. You may want check in to a macro focusing rail for your shots. This will help make fine adjustment to your images focus without making huge changes. These I think are two items you should have in your macro tool kit. You may also want to look in to a circular polarizer. This filter will help remove the sheen of some leaves and will help the color saturation in your images as well as removing some time out of your post processing time later
Last minute tips !
Remember that photographing your shots on cloudy a day is like having the worlds largest soft box. Giving you beautiful soft light for your macro images and also remember that early morning or evening light is best. Theres a good chance that shooting in the early morning that there may be some dew on your subjects ! Remember that if your out shooting and run in to trouble to call the store at 319-395-9121 !