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10-28-2020, 03:51 PM - 5 Likes   #1
er1kksen's Avatar

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Location: Forestville, NY
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GR Secret Technique: Wide-Angle Macro with Daytime Flash

For all the love the GR series get for street shooting or a go-anywhere pocket camera, there are other styles of shooting for which these little cameras may be among the best solutions on the market. I photograph plants- often small plants, at that, and I like to present them in their physical context. At the same time, I don't want them to visually disappear against a busy backdrop. So, I need to focus close, frame wide, and have some means of isolating the subject.

With its impressively short close-focus distance for an APS-C camera when equipped with the wide-angle adapter, the GRs are a stealth entry in the "Wide-Angle Macro" category. I'm hard-pressed to think of a similar setup that doesn't get a bit crazy on size and weight, or even cost, with the Laowa 15mm macro really the only near-equivalent- focusing a bit closer, but strictly manual, not cheap, and large.

The GRs in this setup can offer some DOF isolation for very closeup subjects, but this is not always ideal. And with slightly larger subjects (often things like wispy grasses) DOF isolation is not possible and the subject is easily lost against the background. Here, the leaf-shutter of the GR cameras makes the difference, enabling very high flash sync speeds. Lighting up the foreground and using a high shutter speed to underexpose the background increases the visual distinction, so that even those delicate grasses can stand out against a complex scene on a sunny day. The GR III is probably best at this, since on the GRII and presumably GR as well there's little control over flash intensity- and you will want an external flash. I used the AF200. Using the GR II, I usually had to stop down just a little more than preferred to avoid blowing out the foreground (internal ND on, of course).

I found this a fun technique to work with. It's not suited to every subject and can be tricky to compose correctly to make it look good, but I like it. I no longer have a GR and hope I can use a similar technique with my K-5 and soon-to-arrive DA 14, but of course that doesn't focus quite as close and it's a much larger setup to carry around.

All photos of interesting species of plants in the Niagara River Gorge at Whirlpool State Park in NY, just downstream of Niagara Falls. The unique habitat and geology of the Niagara Gorge results in a unique array of flora, including many rare and endangered plant species. One of the projects I'm involved in at work focuses on habitat restoration that will ensure the future of these species in the gorge, where aggressive invasive species have started to take over and crowd out habitats.

10-28-2020, 07:14 PM   #2
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Nice idea. I do not have a GR. But I think I cam make the same technique with my Pentax K5II and some wide lens like 15mm limited or 10-17mm.
10-29-2020, 09:18 AM   #3
er1kksen's Avatar

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The 10-17mm focuses a lot closer than the 15mm and I was using that for a while. I just didn't really like the way it handled color and microcontrast (something the GR lenses excel at). The challenge with a DSLR is using flash and high shutter speed at the same time- I haven't had one of the flashes with HSS but that would probably work.

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