Friday, March 13, 2015

Close-up Photography

To pick up on yesterday's post, the next step in my own learning was starting to take close-up photos.  You can do this several ways in terms of equipment, but in my case my wife bought me a macro lens for one of those BIG birthdays!  (It was expensive, but only a fraction of what her last sewing machine cost, so I don't feel guilty).

I have to admit I've used the macro lens right here in our own garden and meadow for the most part.  But it's allowed me to get really 'up close and personal' with a lot of flowers.  You can also use settings on a good digital point-and-shoot camera, or extension rings for close-up work.  Whatever you choose, it opens a whole new world of beauty if you're interested in capturing nature through the seasons.

I quickly learned that both focus and depth of field was very important to get good close-ups.  I often revert to manual focus, and take numerous pictures to get one that's satisfying.  Getting out early in the morning before the breeze picks up helps.

The way this Foxtail Lily blossom unfolds means that you want a very large dept-of-field to keep as much as possible in focus, so you need to set the aperture down to a high f-stop, like f16 or even higher.  This forces the shutter speed to be slower, in order to get enough light, so you need a tripod for a shot like this.

This was when I broke down and went and bought a good tripod.  for some types of photography it's just as important as getting beyond the 'Auto' setting.  The adjustability of the head of the tripod is most important.  I can adjust this one up and down, back and forth, swivel it and tilt it with the two handles.  The only thing better would be a ball and socket mount, but i really like this one.  Most good tripods are quite heavy (and therefore more stable), but I chose a light weight one, because the other place I use it is for photographing waterfalls at slow speeds.  I'll be carrying it hiking with me, though I use it in the garden all the time.


It's not just for the garden though, and not just for flowers.  Here's the 'flower' of a grass in our meadow, another mark of the seasons.  Catching these with no wind is the challenge.


And here's a dandelion seed head.  A tripod helps a great deal in keeping something like this in focus.  When you need exact focus, a hand-held camera may just move too much to give you the results you want.  On a tripod, you can play with the camera focus until it's just right and know it's not going to move.

The pattern of sori (clusters of spore cases) on the back of fern leaves is an important way to identify species; this is a leaflet of a Goldie's Wood Fern.

You don't use a tripod all the time for close-ups though.  I spend hours stalking butterflies around the yard, like this Swallowtail on a Lilac blossom.

 Or crawling through the grass to get this Praying Mantis!

Tomorrow - how I branched out to start taking new types of pictures, a little.






19 comments:

  1. Lovely photos ! I have a Nikon D3100 and I like to use my Nikkor Macro 60mm for flowers , rain drops on plants and frost but for butterfly's and some bugs I like to use my favorite lens my Nikkor 55-300mm telephoto zoom as some bugs and butterfly's can feel your vibration when you walk or stir and by the time you get close enough poof they are gone lol ! I use this lens for my action shots and for birds . For my scenic shots my wide angle Nikkor 18-55mm they all have Vibration reduction and are super light weight as is my camera I never use a tripod I like to be right in there as much as I can with my subjects just something about having that camera in my hands whilst photographing lol ! I love nature and photography they both are a passion and a love for me as well . Thanks for sharing , have a good weekend !

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like a tripod for moving water, close-ups, and to get those flower heads before the winds stirs them to waving around, early mornings is a great thought. superb foxtail, and fluffy dandelion heads. lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh how I have longed for a macro lens these many years but like Country Gal above I use the same methods with coincidentally the same equipment she has. You do have some great macro shots there & it makes me want to trade my Jeep for a macro lens:))

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice photos! One of these days I'm gonna save my pennies for a nice macro lens.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fine pictures, and that mantis is a delight!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great photos. I envy you your camera. I'll have to stick with my pocket sized Canon ixus and Nikon Coolpix for a while. For some reason I'm frightened of mantids. Possibly because they look like green plastic wandering about. They just give me the creeps. Lucky thing we don't get them in the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great photos - I have a little hot pink Canon that takes the best macros ever. It has an auto setting that works like magic - just a lucky purchase. One time I dropped the camera in a bowl of ice water (trying to get a macro of peaches in the process of jam making). I grabbed it up - took it apart as much as I could - dried it out with a gentle breeze from a hair dryer - put it in a bag with rice for 3 days and it is good as new. It lives in my pocket for those times when you need a quick photo.

    Love all the detail in your photos. I found an old tripod at a yard sale - good heft to it - has all sorts of adjustments and travels with me where ever I go - I asked the price and the lady said 8.00 or 5.00. I picked the 5.00 price - it is a jewel, for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am enjoying this series very much. Not to mention how much I'm learning! You certainly captures some great shots with your macro lens. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a very impressive series of photos - you're doing very well lol.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The macro lens was well worth the price. Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
  11. A macro lens is an excellent investment. These days, I'm using a point-and-shoot model and it only takes a button push to turn on the macro focus. I did get better results with my Canon SLR, but this is so handy and easy for my trembling old hands to handle.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Furry....
    Excellent photos....love getting up close and personal....
    My camera has a built in macro setting....I love it, and use it a LOT!
    Enjoy your weekend.....raining here.....helps to melt the snow!
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love taking macro shots and if not checked, I think my blog would only be taking the up close shots. I'm just going to look at your Learning Photography post as I need as many hints and tips as possible :-) Take care. Chel

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can barely make the manual focus on my PowerShot work. I get frustrated.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I wonder what the mantis thinks staring back at you.

    In regards to your comment, the Aberdeen Pavilion is named after the governor general at the time, Lord Aberdeen.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a great gift a macro lens. I have one, too!
    The tripod is essential.
    I've been playing with my macro, and sometimes I prefocus and then move my arms, with camera, it's a challenge!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. lovely perfect photos! well done

    ReplyDelete
  18. Like I said I love macro photography. These shots are absolutely gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete