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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Diversify Your Macro Portfolio

Tips and techniques from a master that will take your macro photography to the next level

This Article Features Photo Zoom
1 Trunk of a bristlecone pine, shot at ƒ/32 with a 90mm macro

Through the steady hum of the plane’s engines, the captain’s voice came over the intercom, letting us know that it was a fine April spring day as our flight approached the runway at Detroit’s Metro Airport. For the last four hours, my mind was occupied with the thoughts of my weeklong photography trip to Yosemite National Park.

Although I had accomplished my mission to photograph all the great icons made famous by Ansel Adams, I was disappointed by the constant fight for tripod position with the hordes of photographers and their own goals to record this beautiful scenery. As a novice to photography, the mystique and originality of these images was lost as I realized that these great sites are photographed by hundreds of people every day of the year.

I want images that I can call my own that no one else has, unique images that would cause someone viewing them to say, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before.” At the time of the Yosemite trip, I had only been shooting for a short period of time and my passion was to be a landscape photographer, but after my experience in Yosemite, I decided it was time to explore the macro world more, or what I now call “tiny landscapes.”

1,2,3 Macro Abstracts

Abstracts are the most challenging and fun to shoot. When in the field, my eyes are always scanning for unusual subjects composed of lines, shapes, patterns, colors and interesting design. Some photographers shoot soft-focus images and call them abstracts, but I want an abstract where the viewer has to put some thought into guessing what the subject is. With all the great details in these abstracts, I want to maximize my sharpness by shooting in the higher ƒ-stop range of ƒ/16 to ƒ/32 to bring it all in focus.

2 (left) Early-morning dew on top of a large mushroom, shot at ƒ/22 with a 90mm macro
3 (right) Ice formation at the edge of a small stream in the early stages of freezing, shot at ƒ/32 with a 180mm macro

To capture some truly unique macro photographs that will impress your viewers, there are some techniques, specialty lenses, lens add-ons and software programs used to produce these special images. I crave and enjoy the diverse creativity and technology that we have in macro photography, and subjects can be found in your own backyard to the local park systems. I make my living by shooting subjects at two local parks within 20 minutes of my home, and two of my best-selling images were shot in my backyard.


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