A big small world

Macro Photography

Macro close up of an eyeMacro photography involves photographing small subjects. And to photograph small objects you will almost certainly need a macro lens for your camera. This enables you to get in close and fill the whole frame with the object you’re trying to capture.

“A big small world” may sound a bit strange, but what we mean by that is that shooting with a macro lens, makes really small objects huge. The the subject of the photograph may be small, but the variety of subjects is enormous. It will blow you away that there are so many little things to capture and transform into really large images. The only limiting factor, as they say, is your imagination.

Traditional macro subjects are flowers and insects, but as we said previously, there’s so many subjects. bubbles, water droplets, magnified a hundred fold, fizzing cola drinks.

Macro Photograph is amazing

As you might expect, macro lens come in different qualities and that affects the price. But there alternatives Bellows; ,ring bellows ring reversal (inversion ring), close-up lens and the coupling ring ware some of these. These are much cheaper than dedicated lenses at the sacrifice of quality, Which you choose depends both on your budget (obviously) but also the type and frequency of the projects you have in mind.

macro shot of a water dropletMacro photography also has its challenges. Depth of field is short so you have to find your way with the focus, the rings steals 2-3 f-stops light and focusing distance can in many cases be so short that it  becomes a problem. So it’s imperative that you use a tripod and a cable release or some other automatic shutter release mechanism.

But that said, the tools are many and great reward when you succeed in your macro shots.

This youtube video goes into more details for macro photography

Light Meters for photography – Do you need one?

A little background

From the mid-sixties, built in light meters became common in SLR cameras. In the digital photography through the lens metering has always been built in to the dSLR.

In a similar way, mobile phones, all have cameras and all have built in light meters by design. More recent designs are able to meter correctly by scanning the objects being focused on and metering for that element in the frame.

So the question “do you need a light meter?” seems quite pointless, but….

Reflected light versus Incident light

All cameras measure the “reflected light” from the scene in front of them, not the light in the scene.

bark swan on a dark backgroud
Dark image

Suppose we have a room with a black wall opposite a white wall and one light source. The brightness and color temperature of light is constant. If we point the camera to the white wall and take a meter reading then point the camera at the black and take another reading, we’ll get two different readings. But how can this be? The light in the room is constant and so the light falling on the black wall must be the same as the amount of light falling on the white wall.

The issue here is that the meter is reading reflected light. The algorithms in the camera assume that the light reflected by a average scene, in front of the camera, must average to approximately 18% gray. This is the value has been set through many years of experience and research and also the human eyes are most at home when the scene before them, averages out to around this 18% gray.

So when we meter reflected light from our camera, the white wall is calculated as too bright, the meter compensates by reducing the recommended exposure. Turning a white wall into a light gray wall. Similarly the black wall gets the reverse treatment, exposure is increased and so the black wall turns dark Gray.

white coat on a white background
white scene

What we need to measure is the light that’s falling on our two walls – light meter to the rescue. If you measure the light falling on the white wall, using a light meter and measure the light on the black wall. You’ll find that both readings are the same. This is the value you need to set on your camera (exposure/shutter speed combination).

When you use a light meter and with a little practise, your whites will always be white and your blacks will always be black

A more in depth article can be found here

Cable Release

Pressing the Button shakes the camera

Camera shake occurs whenever you press the camera shutter button, that downward movement causes an, ever so slight, movement on the camera body. When shutter speeds are high, this isn’t so much of a problem. But when taking shots in low light or with long telephoto lenses, then we have to take more care. The first thing we do is add a good tripod. This creates a stable platform for the camera and prevents camera shake. But the shake, which is more like a slight wobble, is still there, as you go to press the shutter release button.

Camera “stablization ” hardware and software improves all the time. In the latest smart phones and cameras. that images are very acceptable as small images for websites or for social media. But when you want the best image with pin sharp images then we need to physically isolate the camera from mechanical vibration. This is when you should consider the use of a cable release to remove all camera shake.

Mechanical cable release for SLR
Mechanical cable release for SLR

Cable release devices come as either physical cables, attached to the camera body, or remotes. Some of the newer smart phones and can operate the cameras shutter mechanism. In fact they along with tablets can control the whole camera’s settings remotely.

Cables

The traditional cable release consists of a stiff, flexible wire, running through a sleeve. This is then attached (nornamly screwed) into the camera body at one end and a press button at the other.

Pressing the button activates the shutter release button on the camera. The flexible nature of the cable dramatically dampens any vibration to the camera and so the image taken is shake free.

button cable release for SLR
button cable release for SL

Remotes

remote release for SLR
remote release for SLR

These devices use either radio or infra-red to connect a remote to a device attached to the camera. This gives a lot of flexibility, for example you don’t to be close to the camera, you can operate form 60ft away. In addition the remote will have other functionality included, such auto focusing, etc.

Remotes allow you the ability to not be tied to the camera and to be able to set elements in the frame reoganize models and then shoot. Which makes for a faster ,spontaneous method of photography.

Mobiles

As mentioned above, both cell phones and tablets can now be loaded with apps that control all the camera functions remotely. These apps are normally specific to a particular camera manufacturer. But the tend to be easy to use with the added benefit that the camera’s image is immediately displayed on the phone/tablet screen.

Click here for more in details on how to use one