equipment or ‘Who needs a camera’?
are from Venus, photographers from Mars
had a dream of visiting a far away planet… seeing aliens… viewing scenes that
were never seen before. I have a secret to tell you (but don’t tell anyone) – I
found a way to do it. OK, ok, don't threat to beat it out of me, I’ll tell you.
A whole world, which we never visited, exists under our nose (literally). This
world contains strange creatures and mysterious landscapes.
photography techniques apply to any small object, but in this tutorial I’ll run
through the general techniques and then focus and insect photography.
Necessary equipment or ‘Who needs a camera’?
needs a camera? You, of course (What are these silly questions?). All you need
is a camera with the best Macro capabilities you can get. If you're using a
compact camera, you can also add, either to the lens or via an adaptor,
close-up lenses. If you have a SLR camera you can use Macro Capable lens or add
extension tubes between the body of the camera and the lens. Because of the
need to close the aperture, you might need an external flash can provide a
significant advantage by increasing the amount of light.
photography can be done anywhere and starring any subject. You can go down
stairs to your garden, but I recommend going to the fields and to nature,
because the more interesting bugs could be found there. Flies can be found on
almost any bush and they make extremely interesting subjects. If you’re into
shooting regular objects in doors you can start with a burning candle,
different types of food and whatever else you can think of (Don’t make a mess
in the kitchen though).
lens mounted on the camera’s lens is sometimes called a close-up lens or
is a term that some of you who wear glasses may be familiar with. The lenses’
purpose is to enable the camera to reach a focus closer to the lens itself. The
Diopter lenses are measured in numbers +1 +2 and so on. Each number represents
how close the focus can be to the lens, and the greater the number the closer
the focus will be. These lenses are relatively non-expensive for a set of 3
lenses (+1 +2 and +4). You can stack close up lenses one on top of the other
and by that increase the Diopter, for example a +2 lens on top of a +4 lens
will equal a +6 diopter. The problem is the more lenses you stack the lower the
quality becomes. I use a +10 diopter lens from B+W that provides sufficient
quality. Read the Filters
article for further information.
tubes are simple rings without any optical qualities that serve a single
purpose – distancing the lens from the camera. How does it help us? By
distancing the lens from the sensor we increase the projection area of the lens
on the focal plane, just like when you increase the distance of a projector
from a screen and the image gets larger. Extension tubes are measures in
millimeters of focal length. When the focal length of the tubes is equal to the
focal length of the lens we get a 1:1 augmentation, which increases accordingly
as the ratio grows. A 50 mm lens will enable focus from closer distance than a
200 mm lens. What’s the disadvantage? (and there is always one) By increasing
the distance of the lens and increasing the projection area, the amount of
light hitting the sensor is smaller (more diffused) and so the exposure
parameters (aperture/shutter/ISO) need to be adjusted to reach the same
exposure that you would normally achieve without the extension tubes.
Depth of field!!!
the exclamation marks? When you’ll start shooting macro you’ll understand. The
DOF gets shallower as the object gets closer, and at a few centimeters distance
it gets so critical, that it might turn a blessing into a curse. In some cases
the DOF might be a millimeters deep. So… What can we do to handle this
challenge? We close the aperture to a minimum and increase the DOF as much as
we can and we could even shoot several photos at different focus points and combine
them in photoshop afterwards. Read the Depth of Field Article
for further knowledge.
is a difficult issue when it comes to macro photography: We are close to the
subject and cast a shadow on it, we closed the aperture to increase the DOF, we
may have mounted some extension tubes to increase the Macro quality… in short,
we probably don’t have enough light. Our goal is to shoot with as much zoom as
we can and yet not cast the lens’ shadow in the subject. This is the case to
resort to a very loved and familiar light source – the Flash. An external flash
is recommended, and taking it off the camera and holding it in your hand or on
an L bracket (attached to the camera and designed to hold the flash) is highly
recommended. You might want to add a diffuser to soften the hard light quality
of the flash. I recommend reading the Flash Article I wrote for
is a very frustrating issue due to the shallow DOF mentioned in section 6. When
using an automatic focus you can’t know immediately if the focus was on the
front leg, the hind leg, or even off the insect entirely. To shoot effectively
you have to manually set the focus to the nearest point, and advance or retreat
the camera gently to set the focus on your target.
will take lots and lots of practice and you’ll find yourself wondering about
the nasty bug’s mother and her profession until you achieve the photo you
wanted to get. Be patient and work hard to get the exact photo you set out to
get. Don’t compromise.
Bugs are from Venus and Men are from Mars…
have a fear of intimacy, maybe because they think you want to squash them (and
they’re probably right). So how can we get close enough to take our shot? The
trick is to approach slowly and gently, not to cast your shadow on the insect
and keep a low profile. If the bug flies, it flies… They will often return to
the same leaf/location. From my experience there are patient bugs and nervous
bugs. I tried shooting butterflies without any success until I stumbled upon a
fearless butterfly, which I shot from every possible angle, a real fashion
is the time to make it absolutely clear that Macro photography is not for
people with bug phobia. The object is to present the insect in a flattering
light to make the photo interesting and good.
Summarize, Macro photography is a fascinating field that reveals a whole other
world. The possibilities are nearly endless and the camera is the means to tap
into that hidden world.
you can see this field is endless and there is always room for improvement.
you, and good luck to everyone.
more photography articles
– Photography Basics,
Depth of field, Filters, Flash Photography, infrared photography, Sunset photography,
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