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Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Soft And Beautiful Macro

Take a different approach to creating outstanding close-ups

The third factor is aperture. Although I usually leave the aperture near wide open, when using a combination of filters,
I sometimes close down a little to reduce the softness. The photo will be soft when using a +4 or stronger filter on a long telephoto, even with the lens stopped down to ƒ/16. Experimenting is best and the depth-of-field preview feature gives a good indication of how the photo will look. If you're shooting digital, you can evaluate the image on the camera's LCD.

The fourth factor is the focal point selected. Changing focus can change the composition significantly, and there are times when simply nothing appears to come into focus. One method I use is to stop down the lens to ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 and then focus with the depth-of-field preview button depressed. Another useful method is to move the tripod slightly ahead and back while looking through the viewfinder.

Handling Motion And Light
When applying macrophotography in a traditional way, even the slightest breeze can cause big problems, but subject movement is less of a problem with this method. Since large aperture settings are the norm, corresponding shutter speeds are regularly fast enough to stop a little motion. Besides, nothing is actually sharp in the photo anyway, so what's a little blur going to hurt?

I still favor soft, diffused light with this technique, but some sunlight can add interest. Direct sunlight shining on droplets of morning dew often makes glittering starbursts while sidelight can give a feeling of sunny brightness.

For me, this style of photography is more about photographing concepts, feelings and shapes than about photographing flowers, petals and leaves. Technical perfection means little, while communicating in a way that reaches others is paramount.

Essential Gear...
Close-up filters are an easy, inexpensive way of entering the world of macro-photography. Available in strengths of +1, +2, +3, +4 or higher, these filters attach to the filter ring of your lens. They offer moderate image quality when the lens is stopped down, although you'll get the soft, dreamy effects Clint Farlinger describes when the lens is wide-open.



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