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Archive 2013 · Struggling with macros
  
 
MaxBerlin
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p.1 #1 · Struggling with macros


I'm open to any advice on how to get better at this. I have Zeiss c/y lenses between 21mm and 85mm and the extension tube set. Thanks.


On the side of the road by Zeissgeist


Sun Day Yellow by Zeissgeist




May 15, 2013 at 01:44 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #2 · Struggling with macros


Hand-held or tripod?
EXIF?

Scott



May 15, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #3 · Struggling with macros


What are you looking for regarding "better"? Do you mean closer? Or better compositions?

Shooting good flower images can be very challenging. Flowers are basically pretty so anyone can take a good image. The bar is really high when it comes to doing something exceptional. I would say yours are in the nice and pretty category, but not exceptional.

The first image has just too much going on in the background. I think it would have helped to be much closer with a simpler shot. You were not able to adequately isolate the foreground flower. I do like the exposure and lighting.

I do prefer the second image mostly because you got closer. I would consider darkening and blurring the background even more. Again I would prefer to see the foreground flower with better isolation from the background. The lighting is a bit flat and uninteresting.

If these were for photo competition, I would say the first would score 6.5-7 and the second would be 7.5-8. Again, I think the bar is really high for flower images. Nice images are very common.

I might call these closeups, but certainly not macros. A true macro is 1:1 for the size of the sensor compared to the size of the image. These are many times larger.




May 15, 2013 at 01:31 PM
MaxBerlin
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p.1 #4 · Struggling with macros


These were handheld. I know to use a tripod when I really want the shot but am considering a gorillapod or something that allows more creativity in positioning the camera.

ISO 100 on both shots,

I used a polarizer on 'side of the road'. 28mm f4 @1/500

While 'sun day yellow' was 35mm1/640 f2

I used the shortest extension - 13mm on both.

The kind of feedback I was hoping for was more of an artistic nature. Is it better to use a setup that will give greater depth of field ?

Or do I need to pick my backgrounds better?

Is it acceptable to manipulate the scene? I try to avoid that and try to maintain the 'take photos and leave only footprints' type of mentality.




May 15, 2013 at 02:06 PM
MaxBerlin
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p.1 #5 · Struggling with macros


Camper Jim, exactly what I was looking for.

My goal is to get one flower in complete focus and then have an smooth undistracting background.

So I'd move towards a longer lens like the 85mm and maybe a little longer tube?

When it's hand held I am just shooting off the cuff and trying to get focus by moving the camera in and out. A better way to position the camera is probably in order.

I'll look around the macro forums to see what there is to learn by example from

And just for my education - using an extension tube doesn't make something a macro? The full size images are probably larger than life.


Sun Day Yellow by Zeissgeist

I wish I'd shot this one better but it was my first macro shot ever. The flower is no bigger than a dime.


Scarlet Pimpernel by Zeissgeist



May 15, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #6 · Struggling with macros


Wow those are big. Macro for sure.


May 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #7 · Struggling with macros


There's a technique that most macro flower photographers forget about. That is to use your depth of field preview button. People tend to forget that they preview the photo wide open and select the aperture arbitrarily. That can lead to surprises.

I compose the image, then change apertures while using the DOF preview button. I then choose between DOF and background blur, trying to achieve a happy medium. I also often do a series of the same composition, changing the apertures. This way I can select the best when viewing on a bigger screen. Of course, a tripod makes this easier and more consistent.



May 15, 2013 at 03:39 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · Struggling with macros


There is a bit of a trade-off in controlling DOF between aperture used and subject distance.

For instance, if you are shooting at MFD (especially with tube), the amount of increase in DOF provided by stopping down is nominal. By moving back a bit from your subject, the DOF relationship/impact of aperture changes can have a more pronounced effect. While this might raise concerns at too much DOF for the BG, there is usually a sweet spot to be found ... and we may only be talking about changing the subject distance a few inches, or less.

Working the two (subject distance / aperture) in concert with each other can help you dial in where your DOF falls off ... and using a tripod (and dof preview) for this indispensable. Personally, I use mostly manual focus/manual aperture lenses, so stopping down for dof preview is inherent to the process ... but Doug's point @ dof preview is valid. It just depends on how exacting you want to be with your dof placement.



May 15, 2013 at 04:03 PM
 

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Camperjim
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p.1 #9 · Struggling with macros


I have tried the preview button but with very limited success. I guess my eyes are just not good enough but I cannot really tell what I will get.

I do agree with RB that using a high f stop has a minimal effect on DOF. I usually shoot at f/22 and sometimes higher but that only helps so much. Focus blending is the ideal solution but that requires a tripod and lots of work. I have tried this a couple of times and really have not liked the results. Also remember that a fullframe DSLR will be much worse than an APS-C DSLR. That is another reason I am still using a cropped sensor. A point and shoot can be even better. I got some great results with my G9 but focusing and shooting macros was a real challenge with lots of failures. The shutter lag and limited ISO did not help.

Finally I notice that many flowers really don't have much detail on the petals. Veins and structure are often missing with not much more than a splotchy image. I often find that careful processing is necessary to achieve any interest in the details regardless of focus and DOF.



May 15, 2013 at 04:22 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #10 · Struggling with macros


+1 @ challenges of splotchy vs. detail.



May 15, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Karl Witt
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p.1 #11 · Struggling with macros


Diffused light will always be your friend, early or late light.

Personally I prefer a longer lens to give more working distance to subject and also does nicely for bokeh. There are some excellent 150-180 macro lenses out there to be had Tamron, Sigma offer values and quality.

Tripod is a must for true macro, you might do well if you want flexibility and creativity to look into a stabilized macro lens to offer more potential without a tripod.

Selective BG is everything as is light balance for pleasing florals. Manual focusing is helpful too. IMO the smaller and more dainty the subject the less BG distractions you want. Work with colors to help impact your subject or unique patterns in the bokeh that can be creative.

I use a very inexpensive Tamron zoom that has a 180-300 1:2 macro focusing range for much of my floral work, a whopping $125 investment that has paid dividends to me!
Karl

Hope this helps some to get you going to the next steps

By the way, petal detail was mentioned and it is one of the more difficult features to render. Most often the reason is the tendency of digital to over saturate yellows and reds which flushes out the nice details. Try backing down the contrast in these situations or reducing red/yellow saturations. Also the petal details will show nicely with proper use of USM sharpening.




evening light

  Canon EOS-1D Mark III    70-300mm lens    209mm    f/8.0    1/800s    400 ISO    -1.3 EV  




May 15, 2013 at 07:47 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #12 · Struggling with macros


Very Nice Karl.

I'm not familiar with the Tamron 180-300 ... is that an old Adapt-All or something newer? I've got a the 90 Macro and 300/5.6 in my arsenal of old Tammies.



May 16, 2013 at 01:00 AM
MaxBerlin
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p.1 #13 · Struggling with macros


Following Karl's lead and isolating a little better.


New Try by Zeissgeist



May 16, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Karl Witt
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p.1 #14 · Struggling with macros


MaxBerlin wrote:
Following Karl's lead and isolating a little better.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7290/8742219039_48c62775f6_b.jpg
New Try by Zeissgeist


OK you have isolation better here. That light looks harsh. I think if your focus was on the yellow tips closest to us it would help. You can also go more from above to render more in focus at once. The petal to the right holds nice detail and color. Maybe less contrast to help this one too. Color saturation looks good here.

My Tamron is actuall an old 70-300 zoom that has a macro mode switch that holds you to using only the 180-300 range. It is an AF lens but it is slower than slow to focus

I used a Tamron 90 and a Canon 100 and a Tamron 180mm macro, will likely pick up another dedicated Tamron 180 macro.
Hope this helps



May 16, 2013 at 02:14 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #15 · Struggling with macros


Gotcha @ range limiter.

Yeah, long Tammy glass has never been too impressive @ AF speed from what I've seen ... but that isn't always a necessary feature.



May 16, 2013 at 02:30 AM
ktan7
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p.1 #16 · Struggling with macros


Gorgeous depth of field and bokeh


May 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM





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