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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

With the changes that occur throughout the four seasons, the various life cycles in nature offer the macro photographer new opportunities every month of the year. Part of the fun of macro photography is learning about the ever-changing environments we live in and the challenging hunt for interesting subjects. Most macro subjects only last for a brief moment in time and are erased forever by the environment, providing the photographer with original artwork that never again can be reproduced.

Equipment
I shoot with a Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro DSLR and a variety of Tamron macro lenses, ranging from their new 60mm macro lens to the 90mm and 180mm macro lenses. The shorter focal length works well for handholding shots and shooting in close with stationary subjects, and the midrange to telephoto macro lenses offer more working distance between you and your live subjects like butterflies, dragonflies and other critters that will flee as you get close. All my images are shot with my camera on a tripod using natural light, no flash.

Styles And Options
Macro photographers have many styles and options to diversify their portfolio of images. One style that I like to shoot is intimate scenes in nature that have interesting details, colors, contrast, textures and lines, and I shoot these using my lens’ full depth of field with everything in focus. Another style would be to photograph subjects with a wide open aperture, creating a soft dreamlike feel. My favorite style, and one that I find the most challenging, is abstract, where viewers have no idea what the subject is. Last would be some of the great technology at our disposal like the Lensbaby lenses or software programs that create unusual and attractive images.

In nature photography, macro offers the most versatility of styles and more shooting time as you don’t have to travel far to find subjects. Diversity in your macro work will have you thinking more creatively and add fun to your photography.

4 The Dreamlike Look

4
4 Dandelion head, shot with a 180mm macro with a 25mm extension tube at ƒ/2.8
When I’m in the mood to shoot some soft-focus dreamlike images, I usually work with flowers. Most photographers can easily find flowers to photograph in their backyards, or if you like wildflowers, head to a local forest or field. I always shoot this style with a wide-open aperture in the ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/3.5 range. Just move the camera in close, focus on the front edge of the foreground of the subject and let the rest soften into the background. For tiny subjects, I sometimes add extension tubes between the lens and camera body, which allows the macro lens to focus in closer to the subject. The tubes come in a set of three, and the more you add, the closer in you can focus.

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