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05-05-2012, 05:22 PM   #1
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Macro tutorial

Anyone know of a good 'macro photography' tutorial?

I picked up the Samsung branded version of the D-FA 100mm 2.8 macro lens for a steal this week... But struggling to get what I consider 'Great' results...

This is my best macro effort thus far (30 odd shots during the day, on my writing breaks) apologies for the poor subject matter!... It's at f16 - 1/125th - iso400 using off-camera flash (close but at a low setting) and crit on technique (not composition or subject matter, as I know they suck already) is welcome...

I know that the main advice will be 'practice' and I fully intend to do so but if anyone knows of a good tutorial video or book specifically geared at macro-photography I'd really appreciate a heads-up... (?)

Just as a side note... I did get a really nice candid portrait of a family friend earlier with this lens, so even if I continue to suck at macro it will be put to good use
Cheers
Dave

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05-05-2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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For some reason the exif say that 'no' flash was used... I can assure you that this is incorrect and the YN560 was fire via cactus-V4 - trig on hotshoe of K-x & reciever on shoe of YN560... No idea why it says 'no' in the exif!!
05-05-2012, 06:32 PM   #3
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Your photo is a good starting point for discussing two of the main challenges in macro: focus and lighting. Focus is challenging because of the extremely thin DOF you get at high magnification, combined with the difficulties of getting the camera in position and stabilizing it. Lighting is challenging because of the small working distance. Harsh highlights such as you have here are a problem not just with metal, but with many insects. Diffusion is essential. Fortunately, you don't need a large diffuser to get well-diffused light; the small distances allow you to place flashes very close, where even small diffusers become comparatively large.

Flash also helps by reducing the need to keep the camera still, making it possible to get good sharp images hand held (although you still have the problem of getting the focus where you want it).

Focus is not so easy to solve. Most helpful technique is to use subject/camera orientation rather than stopping way down to get a larger area in focus. (Stopping way down becomes counterproductive due to diffraction effects at small apertures.) The digital age has brought us "focus stacking" via software, another helpful technique.

Your example here does have good focus, on the middle of the screw threads. But the harsh and out-of-focus highlight on the screw head distracts from this and gives the impression that the shot is not in focus. Very important to find the key element that needs to be in focus -- when shooting tiny animals (arthropods) this will nearly always be the eye.
05-05-2012, 06:36 PM   #4
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I now use two of these when I do macros.

Ledpro X6 On-camera LED Light LEDPRO X6 B&H Photo Video

They are easier to use than flash.



With Macro, so much is riding on good light.

(Yes, those are my fingerprints)

05-05-2012, 08:33 PM   #5
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Dave,
I'm a novice at macro so this could all be wrong, but...

This doesn't suck at all. But I'm not sure I'd have picked it as my first test subject, because it is going to be highly reflective and so whatever flash you use is going to be tricky to get right. You are also going to get reflections off the surface the object is sitting on (as opposed to shooting a bug on a leaf, for example, where you excess light will mostly get lost to the surroundings). That said, any outdoor subject has the issue of wind, which mucks up the focus, and also the potential for shadows depending on the time of day and the positioning of the camera and particular lens as shorter ones pull you too close to the subject.

So suggestions - try a smaller and flatter object to start, and one with fewer reflections. Worry about the colour and reflectivity of what you place the object on. And shoot some more.

And don't be so hard on yourself. Of the first 100 macro shots I took (using extension tubes and a 55 mm lens) I might have had 1 keeper - if I was generous. Of the next several hundred shot using either the 55 or a 135, and with the addition of flash as I tried to avoid it initially) I got a few more good ones, but still a pretty low success rate. Also - one further note. I've only used on camera flash. As is, I can get winners but I need to carefully pick my aperture - full closure with the 55 and about f8 or f11 with the 135, but I've had better luck using a diffuse flash (with a handkerchief over it as my high tech solution). A low power flash may have helped, but a diffuse flash will help more, and you can bump up the power.
05-06-2012, 01:43 AM   #6
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Thanks to those who've replied thus far...

I did have a stofen on the flash-head - but concensus is that a more difused lightsource is required - I'l work something out there...

Baro-nite... I literally just read an article of focus-stacking! You're right about the highlight... As MSL noted - quite reflective - The first thing ~I picked up in my room but a better shot than my other test subjects (cupcakes - don't ask)

LaurenOE... Is that a constant light source then? I can't afford to buy any more gear right now but I have a cheap LED video light somewhere... Thanks for the suggestion!
05-06-2012, 03:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
I did have a stofen on the flash-head - but concensus is that a more difused lightsource is required - I'l work something out there...
Search the forums and you can find lots of ideas for homemade diffusers from cheap materials. Remember that the farther away the diffuser is from the subject, the larger it needs to be to achieve the same apparent size.
05-06-2012, 04:09 AM   #8
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I have a load of velco-tape... Thinking pillowcase, scissors and fabric-glue...

Cheers

05-06-2012, 04:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
LaurenOE... Is that a constant light source then? I can't afford to buy any more gear right now but I have a cheap LED video light somewhere... Thanks for the suggestion!
Yes. I place them where I need them, and I can dim the light to the levels I need. With adequate light, I can stop down and get greater depth of field. I have a ton of flashes that I used to do macros with, but LED lights make it much easier.

Also be aware of your plane of focus when doing macros.
05-09-2012, 08:47 AM   #10
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I have one of these LED rings.
Amazon.com: Opteka RL-12 Digital Macro LED Ring Light for Canon EOS, Nikon, Sony Alpha, Olympus & Pentax Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo
I'm sure the LEDPro model above is more powerful, but for fairly close work this is nice.
05-09-2012, 08:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I have one of these LED rings.
Amazon.com: Opteka RL-12 Digital Macro LED Ring Light for Canon EOS, Nikon, Sony Alpha, Olympus & Pentax Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo
I'm sure the LEDPro model above is more powerful, but for fairly close work this is nice.
$20? That's worth a try!
05-09-2012, 09:48 AM   #12
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Another low-cost solution is the Interfit Photographic Small On Camera Diffuser, suitable for the pop-up flash or a small shoe-mount flash such as the Sunpak PF20XD (which is a great little unit for macro; I have a pair of them). There's a larger version of the diffuser for a standard shoe-mount flash.

Last edited by baro-nite; 05-09-2012 at 09:49 AM. Reason: more info
05-09-2012, 11:01 AM   #13
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get out and shoot some animate subjects, or some flowers. A much better way to start learning and practicing as you'll never really get a good shot of bolts no matter the technique.



But what do I know, I dont shoot anymore.

Last edited by yeatzee; 05-09-2012 at 11:23 AM.
05-09-2012, 03:27 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
get out and shoot some animate subjects, or some flowers
Since I finished my coursework its pretty much been raining non-stop! Hoping for a nice day on Friday as I've no plans except shooting with my 100 and 35mm lenses...

QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
A much better way to start learning and practicing as you'll never really get a good shot of bolts no matter the technique.
You're absolutely right.
05-09-2012, 03:32 PM   #15
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I would look at learning about effective lighting. Makes a massive difference
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