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Macro - A whole new ball game!

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Old Thursday 12th May 2011, 10:51   #1
cheersm8
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Macro - A whole new ball game!

Hi all. 1st tryout with a raynox dcr-150 and canon ef-s 55-250 IS
I'm no stranger to 'normal' butterfly and dragon fly 'close up' stuff but this is a whole new ball game for me and a lot of my 'rules gained through experience' no longer seem to apply in this new field of photography.
Appologies for the macabre test subject but I reckon almost everyone 'tries out their macro' using dead flies.
I spent an good hour trying out different camera settings in an attempt to get even a recognisable photo.
Early days yet, with lots more knowledge and experience needed, of course.
I am sure that I haven't even scratched the surface with the basics yet so this is where you guys come in.
Photo taken at 200 ISO, f16, 1/200, using the cameras own pop-up flash compensated down to -1 and with a piece of white kitchen towel as a diffuser.
The most difficult practicality I am facing is focus. Being magnified, even the tinyest movement by myself becomes a blooming earthquake on the shot. How you guys take macro shots 'in the field' is beyond me!
Any obvious, naive errors noticed with my 1st attempt, picked up by you folks will, I'm sure, help me to nip 'em in the bud during my baby years at this game!
Anyway, any tips/advice on a way forward will be very much appreciated.
I suppose that practice,practice, and more practice is the first step?
Focusing rails? Necessary or not? Must make focusing a tad easier?
Ring Flash? Worth the expense?
Thanks guys.
Joe


PS, I've read the excellent thread from Baron Birder re raynox dcr 150 - excellent stuff!
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 22:57   #2
eenymac
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Not tried the Raynox lenses, although I have seen some very good images taken with them.
I use the Sigma 105mm Macro for all my Macro photos. As I am always out and about I am still trying to hone the skills necessary to get good macros. Today for instance, I was taking shots of Nettle Weevils at my local patch in a stiff breeze and nettles tingling the legs constantly. It's all part of the fun though.

I have a ringflash which has produced some good images but I have also found that, with the 105mm, the camera's built-in flash also works well in providing a bit of fill flash, allowing smaller apertures too for a better depth of field. This of course also keeps the weight down allowing steadier shots.

I guess, like everything, it all comes down to practice and finding a technique you are comfortable with and then the joy of getting the good results.
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Old Monday 16th May 2011, 09:59   #3
cheersm8
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Thanks for the reply eenymac. I had a bash 'in the field' using the raynox with my 55-250 and the photo is my 1st try. It was a very windy morning and the camera was hand held, so I didn't realy make things easy for myself.
Still, I got 'half a result' so I'll plug away and practice. Things can only get better! They can't get any worse going by the photo.
Joe
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Old Tuesday 17th May 2011, 01:20   #4
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Practice, and practice. Here are two I took, hand held, last week with the DCR-250.
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Old Tuesday 17th May 2011, 07:36   #5
Ashley beolens
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Ring flashes don't have to be expensive, there are numerous DIY ring flashes to be found on the net, a simple devices that uses the built in flash or an external unit but diverts the light down tubes to a ring setup on the lens, these work best using manual settings for obvious reasons, but I use one myself in my moth photography and for a few pence (most expensive part being the gaffer tape) they are great to start with.
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 13:17   #6
Chalky W
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheersm8 View Post
Thanks for the reply eenymac. I had a bash 'in the field' using the raynox with my 55-250 and the photo is my 1st try. It was a very windy morning and the camera was hand held, so I didn't realy make things easy for myself.
Still, I got 'half a result' so I'll plug away and practice. Things can only get better! They can't get any worse going by the photo.
Joe
Joe,

As most have said so far its just down to practice and patience and shooting lots of shots. Even on a windy day its possible to get good shots. The attached shots were taken on a blustery but sunny day at the weekend, you just got to wait for the subject to stop waving about and snap a few shots off when you can.

My macro shots are all taken using a small monopod which i find invaluable for keeping the camera shake to a minimum, it also takes the weight off you when taking the shot. i think purely handheld would be almost impossible in most circumstances in the field. i also tried a ring flash at one point but didn't like the results, they looked too 'flashy' even with the smallest amount of infill being used.

FYI, I use a Sigma 150mm macro which i think is superb, theres more macros on my flickr page if your interested.

Cheersm8......Chalky.
Ps. The hardest part with insects is getting near the buggers when they land especially butterflies.
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Old Tuesday 31st May 2011, 17:05   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chalky W View Post
Joe,

As most have said so far its just down to practice and patience and shooting lots of shots. Even on a windy day its possible to get good shots. The attached shots were taken on a blustery but sunny day at the weekend, you just got to wait for the subject to stop waving about and snap a few shots off when you can.

My macro shots are all taken using a small monopod which i find invaluable for keeping the camera shake to a minimum, it also takes the weight off you when taking the shot. i think purely handheld would be almost impossible in most circumstances in the field. i also tried a ring flash at one point but didn't like the results, they looked too 'flashy' even with the smallest amount of infill being used.

FYI, I use a Sigma 150mm macro which i think is superb, theres more macros on my flickr page if your interested.

Cheersm8......Chalky.
Ps. The hardest part with insects is getting near the buggers when they land especially butterflies.
I like to get the camera on the tripod for all my macro shots and a shutter release or using the timer will also help

Enda
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Old Tuesday 31st May 2011, 18:27   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chalky W View Post
i think purely handheld would be almost impossible in most circumstances in the field. i also tried a ring flash at one point but didn't like the results, they looked too 'flashy' even with the smallest amount of infill being used.
Hand held is what I go with, could never get a monopod in place fast enough. The photos added here are all hand held.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chalky W View Post
Ps. The hardest part with insects is getting near the buggers when they land especially butterflies.
Too true, and then there is playing peek-a-boo with some bug behind a leaf, or stem.
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2011, 11:03   #9
cheersm8
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Practice - The next Level

Thanks for the input guys! Super to hear of everyones workarounds to particular situations.
I've had tons of fun over the last week getting close to the creepy crawlies.
One big lesson that I believe I have taken on board,through practice, is the DOF issue.
You can't always get the DOF that you hope for,but that should not put you off from pushing the shutter.
I found that by thinking outside of the box a bit, taking a tad more care on composition, and getting
the bits that are within the range of DOF, in perfect focus, I can still get some quite acceptable photo's
with enough dynamics to make 'em visually interesting and pleasing.

A handful of samples from this weeks practice sessions.
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2011, 21:13   #10
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Looks like you've got on well with the raynox
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Old Friday 3rd June 2011, 16:46   #11
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Originally Posted by Ashley beolens View Post
Ring flashes don't have to be expensive, there are numerous DIY ring flashes to be found on the net, a simple devices that uses the built in flash or an external unit but diverts the light down tubes to a ring setup on the lens, these work best using manual settings for obvious reasons, but I use one myself in my moth photography and for a few pence (most expensive part being the gaffer tape) they are great to start with.
I use the setup illustrated below. I already had the flash, the arm, and the off-shoe cord, so all I have to buy was the ball-joint gizmo which cost me £10.

It's not as well balanced as a ring or twin ligth, but it works pretty well. I took this picture with it in my garden last weekend:
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...9/ppuser/38764

Thomas
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Old Sunday 5th June 2011, 13:26   #12
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Joe, have to say for a non prime macro, those are great shots ! Composition is just spot on for me.

All my my macros are with the Tamron 90mm, possibly the best lens I've ever used for sharpness !

You can see my latest batch on my Flickr pages, but here are a couple of yesterdays. A labyrinth spider with lunch and the obligatory ladybird. Both Nikon D200 and Tamron 90mm, hand held, f11, 1/125th and f13, 1/160th. I'm a wheelchair user and getting onto my hands n knees ain't the easiest of things to do, and getting up is often a real PITA, but when I see my closeups, I reckon its worth it.

I'm hooked :)

My advise would be practise like its going out of fashion. Smaller apertures do increase the DOF, but when you're *that* close it really doesn't help much ! Also, try manual focus - I often use manual and do the fine tuning by moving my body in and out by those few millimetres, as macro lenses are notorious for focus hunting.
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Old Saturday 11th June 2011, 19:57   #13
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i think purely handheld would be almost impossible in most circumstances in the field.
The I.S. on the Canon 100 LIS sure helps Ian, first day out with it for me today, light was crap but I was amazed at how many sharp shots I got (all handheld).
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 09:28   #14
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*ALL* of my macros are hand held :)

Nikon D200, Tamron 90mm, kneepads, patience. That's *really* all you need :)

Currently I'm shooting at 400ISO, occasionally upping to 800. Good job I have a superb noise reduction software (Nik). Most of my shots are around 300-400mm, majority currently at about 320mm. I use a small aperture, between f10 and f16, and as long as I get 1/60th or better it works. I'm tending to use more manual focus now too.
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 19:47   #15
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For a lot of my macro shots, all handheld like others here, I use the camera's internal flash to provide a bit of fill-in flash (need to get or make a diffuser though) and of course it also ups the shutter speed with flash sync, allowing higher F-numbers for broader depth of field.

I do have a ringflash that I use in some circumstances but, as I am mostly on the move, observing as I go, I generally leave it at home to travel lighter.

Has anyone else nearly turned blue whilst holding their breath and manually focussing on moving subjects?
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Old Sunday 12th June 2011, 22:01   #16
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Has anyone else nearly turned blue whilst holding their breath and manually focussing on moving subjects?
Not yet! I have experienced another of the delights of macro photography though:- Kneeling down and putting up with bramble thorns in my knees, red ants in my socks and a thistle stem up my nose, only to find that when I look through to take the shot all I can see is a leaf,where once a bug was sitting.

Great additions and input to the thread guys. Thanks.
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