Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

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wasilvers
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by wasilvers »

After reading that the theme for the tinboats April photo contest was macro photos, I decided it sounded like fun to learn just what a macro photo was. Turned to wikipedia and read that a macro photo is basically close up photography of small objects - generally the object is at least lifesize on the photo, many times it is much larger. You can read all about that here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography I personally love macro photos, the close up of a fly's eye or bee on a flower keeps my attention for a fair time.

So I read up on how to take good macro photos - here is what I learned lumped in to a paragraph or two.

I learned that you really don't need special lenses or flashes to take striking macro photos - though they can help. In fact, many point and shoot cameras have a macro setting on them already (usually identified by a flower). I have a limited budget for camera equipment, so I will not be buying any new lenses anytime soon - my current equipment will have to do.
I read about good Fstops, isos, flashes, etc, then finally broke out the camera and started playing. The first mistake I made was getting too close for my equipment. I have a digital SLR (Nikon D5000) and initially turned the zoom to about 18mm, got about 5 inches from my target and started taking pictures... Some of you guys are probably laughing right now... the 18mm setting is really a 'wide angle' setting - the opposite of 'macro' - the pictures didn't look right at all - I can't even show samples they were so bad.
After more reading, I found that I should have stepped back and zoomed in more (increasing the mm) and used the right focal point for my lenses - about 27 inches is the closest my lens will focus per my manual.
Once I got that down, I started playing with the f-stops - basically how much light the lens lets in - making this a higher number will make more of the photo in focus, a lower number will blur the background more. The higher the fstop number the longer the shutter will have to stay open to get enough light for a good picture. You can read a longer description here (https://www.shutterfreaks.com/Tips/ControllingDOF.html).
One thing that fascinates me about macro photos is the depth of field you have to play with is really small. That means that the area in focus can be really limited (in my case below- a fraction of an inch can make a big difference.
Just about everything I read said that a steady rest is a important for good (focused) macro photos. I had bought a tripod for family photos so I thought I was set there. We all know that good lighting is key to good photos. A flash can really enhance a photo or hurt it. I have a problem in that my flash is on the top of my camera. If I am trying to shoot a photo at about 30 inches away, the angles of the shadows are VERY noticiable, every thing that sticks up has a dark shadow under it and detracts from the image. The combination of a supported rest (tripod) and perfect lighting (or flash) would definitely make good photos easier to shoot. I'm personally thinking of a more specific flash for my camera to shoot some good macro shots for my office walls - but that's another post for another day.

So I took this information and used it to create some photos. I really wanted to find out the the difference correct focus, lighting and suppored camera makes to a photo. To do that, I shot pictures of the "shift" key on my keyboard. I thought I'd share these cropped from the original photos as close as I could get without (blowing them up) to fit tinboats picture limits.

#1 - I thought if I gave the subject enough light (with a flash), I wouldn't need a tripod to get a good shot - I held real still and shot a lot of photos, but this was the best I could get with a flash without a tripod
#2 - I used the tripod, focused the camera, then set the shutter delay so I wouldn't move the camera, in the slight movement of the camera, just a TINY,TINY bit, it became out of focus.
#3 - With the tripod, I first set the shutter delay, painstakingly focused the lens and snapped this beauty... you can see some of the texture of the plastic, and the dust on the keyboard.

My whole point of sharing this (besides notes to myself later) is to show that even an amateur like me with non-specialized equipment can make a decent macro photograph with some preparation and attention to detail. Hope this helps you with your photos too.
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Will - Originally from Texas, now fishing for Bass in Wisconsin
1978 Sea Nymph Fishing Machine rebuilt in 2009

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fender66
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by fender66 »

Will....this is an AWESOME post! Thanks for taking the time to share your new learnings.

I will add something else about the flash problem/issues that you've already mentioned. If your flash is too powerful....you can take a "clean" white Kleenex, or white tissue paper and layer that over the flash. Not only will it reduce the amount of "flash" intensity, but it will defuse the light also making it softer. Use different amount of layers to achieve the desired result. Sometimes it only takes one layer...other times, it takes two or three layers.

Also, if you have problems with the shadows from your flash....zoom in a little more and move the camera away just a bit more. Still having problems....you can take a white poster board or similar material and hold it at an angle above and in front of the camera so that the flash bounces off the board and into the area of your subject being photographed. If the white board doesn't give you enough light reflection....use aluminum foil. If you crumple up the aluminum and then flatten it out again...the wrinkles will defuse the light some too. Experiment with different angles for different amounts of light. This is referred to as bouncing the flash.
Peace,

Chris/Fender66´¯`●.¸.¸¸.●´¯`●.¸><((((º>
Every day should be Fender Day!


2011 TinBoats/BYOB Labor Day Tournament Champion :wink:

bumpyroad
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by bumpyroad »

back in my working days I took lots of ultra closeups, macro, etc. for slides for presentations. tiny bolt in a human injectable vial, etc. I never used flash if I could avoid it. used natural light which was not "harsh" similar to firing flash thru hanky/kleenex etc. a much more natural presentation IMHO.
Bumpy

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wasilvers
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

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So reading about macro shots caused me to visit amazon.com - there I picked up some fairly inexpensive extension tubes to really let me get close for some good macro shots. Here is one I took of the same keyboard above, with a tripod, with a wireless release. This was as far away as I could get, just because I was lazy on setting up the tripod. I could get closer, but why, you can see the print setting up above the plastic on the keys. 8)
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Will - Originally from Texas, now fishing for Bass in Wisconsin
1978 Sea Nymph Fishing Machine rebuilt in 2009

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wasilvers
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

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One problem I've found with my macro shots is depth of field - or the amount of photo in focus- it really isn't good at all. Then I read about focus stacking where you take a lot of photos at different focused points and use software to combine them together. I tried my hand at it tonight with a picture of a quarter. I took 5 shots at different focused points on the object.

Below is one shot focused near, and the finished product. I see in the future I will have to get cleaner money to take snapshots of :)
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Will - Originally from Texas, now fishing for Bass in Wisconsin
1978 Sea Nymph Fishing Machine rebuilt in 2009

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fender66
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by fender66 »

Good stuff. I love how you've gotten into this. =D>
Peace,

Chris/Fender66´¯`●.¸.¸¸.●´¯`●.¸><((((º>
Every day should be Fender Day!


2011 TinBoats/BYOB Labor Day Tournament Champion :wink:

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wasilvers
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by wasilvers »

fender66 wrote:Good stuff. I love how you've gotten into this. =D>
Yeah, it's been a ton of fun learning. I played with focus-stacking on my April contest entry since I had pictures with water droplets in focus and then the inner flower. Then I took out the blemishes with content aware - It looks AWESOME now!!! (But I did too much to it to actually enter that photo.) I'll have to darken more of the background and take out a ghost on the stem, but I really don't know photoshop at all and really only take time to lookup things that I need to do at that moment.
Will - Originally from Texas, now fishing for Bass in Wisconsin
1978 Sea Nymph Fishing Machine rebuilt in 2009

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caveman
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by caveman »

Very good post.

Keep up the good work :)
Stopped here for a look and never left.......................
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Aft Backwards
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Macro Photos -what I've learned so far

Post by Aft Backwards »

Redfish up close & personal.
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