Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Macro Light Play with Queen Anne's Lace

I love seeing Queen Anne's Lace come into bloom. I decided to pick a couple stems in various stages of life - closed buds, just opening, open all the way, and beginning to turn to seed. They were placed in a vase (just to hold them upright) in front of a plant outside - I wanted to achieve the natural outdoor setting. The challenge with this is that the slightest breeze moves the flower resulting in a blurred shot. And my back was killing me from bending over.

1.5 s at f/5.6
So the vase was brought inside. That would eliminate any breeze-movement and I could set the exposure time as long as I wanted. By being able to have a long exposure time, I could also use whatever f-stop I wanted. The comfort of sitting in a chair was just a bonus.

It was completely by accident that I got the lovely colors in the background. It was the brown table cloth and the TV showing in the background.
1.5 s at f/5.6 - TV in the background

By moving the flower so it was in front of the window instead, this pretty blue background happened.

2.0 s at f/6.7 - window in the background
The real magic happened when I brought out the flashlight. The shutter speed was left open for quite a long period of time and the flashlight was used to light the flower. The background is darker because it isn't being lit by the flashlight. The flashlight can be used a couple different ways:

1 - Keep the flashlight in one spot focused on one flower for the entire exposure. This results in a spotlit flower with the other flowers left in shadow.
Spotlight without movement
(same window in the background)
2 - Move the flashlight around during the exposure time. This paints light on everything it touches. 

1/8 s at f/9.5 Paint the flowers with the light
During my play the 250D Close-up Lens was added so I could get even closer to the flowers.
I'm finding that the most important things for successful Macro photos are:
1 - Perfect stillness. Use a tripod. Use a Remote Shutter Release so you finger doesn't move the camera when the button is pushed. Make sure there is not breeze or someone walking thru the room. And keep Jake (my sweet cat) OFF THE TABLE :)
2 - Use the zoom focus to get the best focus possible. When taking photos that close, the depth of field (or the space where things are focused) gets even smaller.

Lesson - An ordinary flashlight can be used to add light to a non-moving subject. This allows for longer shutter speeds and smaller f-stops.

- 1 Photo a Day....makes me happy (and a better photographer) Bonnie McCaffery (always a student)
Here's links to the equipment I used.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Me, My Honey, and My Tripod

The Little Shohola
I was running the day before and saw the beautiful morning light near our local stream and I wanted to go take photos the next morning. I love being with my husband so since he was home that morning I didn't want to loose our morning time together. I suggested we go to the stream. He could fish and I could take photos.
My honey fishing
The morning light was gorgeous and we were lucky enough to catch several Cedar Waxwings flying about. I have learned that my tripod is essential for a good clear shot. So I planted the tripod with the camera firmly attached. Everytime the Waxwings perched, I would try and swing the tripod head into place - and off they'd fly. I kept missing the shot. My Canon 70-200 f4.0L IS zoomed to 200mm doesn't leave much space to miss. Don't get me wrong, it is a super lens and I love it. But zoomed in like that, you gotta be pretty much on target.
Where the Cedar Waxwing had been...
only I wasn't quick enough. Next time.

I did finally get one, but wished I was closer.
This is very cropped...Next Time
So here is what I figured out... loosen everything up so the tripod head is free to move EASILY. This way when the Waxwing was perched, I could quickly swing the camera into position.  The left photo is the branch where the Waxwing had been and I missed it (it would have been an awesome setting). The below right photo is a very cropped version of my best shot of the Waxwing for the morning. I plan on going back and getting that perfect shot - I know where to stand now and how to set up my tripod...

One shot of daisies I did get that I like.
Lesson - Loosen up the tripod head for fast tracking while trying to take bird photos.

- 1 Photo a Day....makes me happy (and a better photographer) Bonnie McCaffery (always a student)
Here's links to the equipment I used.