My latest photography journey has taken me down the road to explore close-up photography. It has been interesting to try and capture images of different things from a very close perspective. Now I don’t think that photographing insects will be something that will keep me reaching for my camera. It appears that photographing various common objects will be more fun for me. One of the things I enjoy is staging the objects to build a composition. It is also enjoyable experimenting with different angles and lighting on small subjects. I have tried flash, flashlights, sunlight and lamps all with different results.
Most of my close-ups have been taken with a Canon 24-70mm L Lens with a minimum focusing distance of about 12 inches. This has been okay for some photos, but it has been limiting. Recently I purchased some extension tubes and they have made a big difference and cost a lot less than buying a new macro lens! Below are some photos taken with and without the extension tubes along with my elaborate studio setup. I think that you can clearly see how much sharper the photos with the extension tubes are, along with the fountain pen being more prominent in the photo.
No Extension Tube
12mm Extension Tube
20mm Extension Tube
Another aspect of close-up photography that has been a learning experience is getting sharp focus. As you may know, the closer the lens gets to the subject, the narrower the depth of field. This blog is not a how-to blog but a narrative on my photographic journey. Therefore, I don’t stray into giving input on how to do anything, but I do want to record my experiences. I have been viewing YouTube videos on the technique known as Focus Stacking. This has also helped me in my progress in learning Adobe Photoshop. The above two photos taken with the 12 and 20mm extension tubes were composites of about 10 layers each utilizing focus stacking. My goal was to have the foreground sharp and let the background go soft to try and create the illusion of the fountain pen pointing out from the flat surface of the composition book. You can be the judge of the results.
Since this blog is my attempt at documenting my progress as an amateur photographer, I think I can now add some new skills to my repertoire. Hopefully, with more practice my technique with close-up photography and focus stacking will continue to improve. Please come back to visit this blog to follow my photographic journey!
I recently went on a family vacation with my grandchildren, my daughter, son-in-law and my wife. We rented a home in North Carolina that sat on 75 acres and included river frontage on the Dan River. The home and setting were beautiful and I decided to take advantage of some of the numerous photographic opportunities there. So my first order of business was to determine what might be hidden among the 75 acres of undeveloped land!
My oldest granddaughter and I are both interested in photography, so she went with me as we scouted locations for a photo shoot. As you can imagine we found several scenes that were idyllic and well suited to photography. We stumbled upon an old home site that only had two weathered stone chimneys remaining standing. It created a fantastic photo opportunity and my granddaughter decided she would concentrate on that. She must’ve taken 100 different photos of that site and most of them turned out quite nicely.
I decided to take advantage of the numerous butterflies that were flying about in a field of flowers near the home. Early the next morning I walked to the field and set up my camera and tripod. I then frantically proceeded to turn and pivot the camera to try and capture a butterfly as it landed on a flower. This proved to be an extremely poor idea! Trying to capture a butterfly in flight is not an easy task to do, especially for a novice photographer such as myself. It must’ve been very comical to see me jerking my camera around trying to catch an elusive butterfly on a very small flower. I’m lucky that I didn’t knock the camera down or fall over the tripod with my clumsy self.
The next morning I decided on a new plan of attack. I got up and took one of my younger granddaughters with me and asked her to pick a flower that she thought butterflies would land on. The flower she picked out I set my sights on it, and proceeded to focus on that specific flower and then wait for something to land on it. This proved to be a much more fruitful strategy. It just required patience on my part. Thankfully I captured quite a few photos of both butterflies and bees on both that flower and an adjacent one. I guess the moral of the story is to think things through before you start shooting somewhat aimlessly, especially with moving objects such as butterflies and bees!
As I was reviewing the photos in Adobe Lightroom I noticed a couple of consistent errors on my part. Although I focused on the flower, I didn’t take fully into account just how narrow the depth of field would be for that type of a shot. As a consequence, some of the flower in the foreground was very clear and sharp but as you can see the rear of the flower was out of focus. Fortunately both the butterfly and the bee were in sharp focus. I was particularly pleased with the photo of the bee because you can clearly see the detail in its wings! Another problem I noticed was with composition. I planned to have a good bokeh in the background so that the flower, the butterfly or bee would stand out in sharp focus against the foliage in the background. Unfortunately, I think I had too much of the background and that created a sense of clutter in my photographs. Take a look and tell me what you think.
I also decided to experiment a little bit with Adobe Lightroom by creating a vignette for the photo of the butterfly. I think this helped remove some clutter and also focus more attention on the butterfly. I’m interested in your opinion of this and any other comments you might have on my photography especially anything that can help me improve! Until next time, keep shooting!
It has been quite a long time since my last post. Although I have continued my interest in photography it seemed like it was time to study the subject more. When I started this blog and the photography journey it was my intention to document my progress as a photographer. It was going to be a blog with my successes and failures in hopes that any readers could identify with my journey. It was also an opportunity for me to play around in the blogosphere and learn some new things. That is still the plan, however, I needed to get more familiar with aspects of photography other that releasing g the shutter.
That’s a long way to say I’ve been learning new things. First of all, I joined a photo club and have heard some great presentations on many facets of photography. The speakers also presented their work and I could clearly see that I had a long way to go to even get close to their quality of art. Next I took some lessons in using Adobe Lightroom 5. I also looked at videos on both Adobe’s site and YouTube. I even bought an expensive book on using Lightroom. Fortunately, for me all of this is starting to help and I’m getting more proficient in using Lightroom!
In the process of using Lightroom, I’ve come to the understanding that beauty is a very subjective term. I wonder how many of you have also come to the conclusion that Lightroom by itself is useful but only if you have an idea of what you want the final picture to look like. This has been a real challenge for me since my artistic eye is not well developed as you can probably ascertain from the pictures on this blog! To that end, I’ve recently started looking at photos on 500px. This has now given me more ideas on what good photographers produce. This is going to take a lot of education to get me up to speed, but I’m looking forward to that.
As I mentioned, I joined a photo club and that is proving to be a great experience. I’ve even submitted a couple of photos for the contest the club holds monthly. I haven’t won anything or even finished above the bottom yet but I’ll keep trying. Recently the club sponsored a Macro Photography Workshop. I attend along with around 25 other photographers and we spent the day taking pictures of all sorts of small things. I am sharing some of the photos I took with you in this post.
Another item I am tackling is learning Photoshop. I decided to start with Photoshop Elements because it seemed simpler and was definitely less expensive that the full version of Photoshop. This software is somewhat challenging for me and I must admit it has been a slow learning experience. Have any of you suffered through either Photoshop Elements or Photoshop? If so, I hope the learning process is getting better for you! I did have a little success in making a composite picture. The first one that I
labeled Treasure Found is a composite. The shell is the one in some of the other pictures in this post and I used another photo for the background. It came out ok for a first attempt!
Please take a look at the pictures from the Macro Workshop and if you have a minute, leave a comment for me.