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By nataliesloan
Trying out my new macro lens. let me know what you think. Thanks

Tags: Flowers and plants Close-up and macro

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3806 Canada
14 Jul 2014 6:46PM
Hi Natalie.

Welcome to the world of macro. What do you think of this shot I wonder? Is it what you wanted?

When I look at it, - a good subject and well exposed, what I notice is that there are no parts of the flower that are really sharp. There is a bud lower left that may be the sharpest area, and it may be in a vertical line with the centre of the flower.
You used very shallow (narrow) aperture/depth of field, and this means the area in front of the lens that can be sharp is really tiny. If I say you were 18 inches from the flower, then at f/3.5, there is too little depth to get anything measurable any way sharp. If you are 2 feet and the same aperture, its 0.1 inches. But when you use f/11, at that same aperture, is 0.4 inches. So, aperture is the key to macro. You can use a wide aperture, a little further away, and isolate the stamens, for example, but thats where you get to the second absolute must do for macro; manual focus.
When using a smaller aperture, your shutter speed will be slower, unless you increase ISO, so try a shot indoors, using a tripod for best results. Take some shots of flowers, and kitchen gadgets etc to get some feel for the way aperture makes a difference.
Heres a LINK to a good site to use to understand depth of field.

Hope this helps, and I look forward to you next macro upload.



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Thanks Willie.

Reading your comments I now understand what you mean.

I keep getting mixed up with apertures etc. I think I thought I had to have a small number because I was close up?

I will practice like you said and hopefully we will see an improvement Smile

Many thanks

dark_lord Plus
13 2.1k 506 England
14 Jul 2014 7:46PM
The wide aperture has resultedin a nice diffuse background.
Using smaller apertures such as f/11 will make details in the background become more obvious albeit still way out of focus. It's a balancing act sometimes, but always pay attention to the background as it can make or break a shot (not just for flowers!).
The square crop works well for a single round bloom.
While the very close crop makes for a bold image, allowing a little extra room around the edges is something to consider.

pamelajean Plus
11 1.0k 1984 United Kingdom
14 Jul 2014 7:47PM
Welcome to the fascinating worlds of macro photography and flower photography, Natalie.
On the positive side, you have chosen an unblemished specimen, your background is nice and clean, you filled the frame with your subject, and you included some buds for added interest.

In most cases, the flower's stamens would be chosen to be the part of the subject that is sharp. In that case, it wouldn't matter too much if everything else were out of focus. This type of selective focusing is used creatively by many flower photographers.
Now that you have a macro lens, itís important to use this selective focusing.
The alternative, keeping everything in the image sharp, means thereís no focal point, so choose one spot of the subject and keep that sharp.
I say this with tongue in cheek because I personally like most of my flowers to be sharp. If this is something you'd like to try, then go for smaller apertures/higher f-numbers.
It's worth remembering that large numbers mean large DOF.

When framing your flower, try not to clip the ends of the petals. Give your flower room to breathe.

As Willie has pointed out, it's your selected aperture that will make or break your flower shot. Too small and the background will be too focused, competing with the main subject. Too wide and there may not be sufficient detail to make the image work.
Practice with different aperturesby, continuously checking the depth-of-field with the preview button, so that close control over the final image is possible.

Thanks keith.

I understand what you mean. It's probably why people mention placing cards etc behind the subject?

Another question for everyone is what should the metering be set at when taking these shots and the AF setting (AF A, AF S or AF C)?
Thank you Pamela.

All advice much appreciated Grin
Irishkate Plus
7 41 111 United Kingdom
14 Jul 2014 10:32PM
Good advice all round Natalie. the other thing which you'll find really useful is to use Live View.
Switch from the viewfinder to Live View (see your manual) and then there is button to increase
the image so that you can manually get the subject really sharp.
Your dad will probably know about this but ask the critique team if I'm not making myself clear.
Pamelajean makes a good point about breathing space around the flower.
So often we clip a petal and your image can by ruined.
Good luck.
Kate GrinGrinGrin
banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3806 Canada
15 Jul 2014 4:11AM
Use the default matrix for metering. You should review the result on the lcd during playback and adjust as needed.

Aperture, the smaller hole, which is the larger number, always gives greater depth no matter what the distance to the subject is, compared to a larger aperture, smaller number. What distance to the subject affects is the AMOUNT or size of the dof, closer being shallower, further being deeper. That link will show you when you put in your own figures.

One last thing I forgot to mention; the VR is not effective at close distances.

Theres actually a macro shot in the critique gallery tonight of a daffodil, same lens, same camera, further away from the subject and with a smaller aperture. Take a look and notice the difference.

dudler Plus
14 646 1245 England
15 Jul 2014 10:58AM
Hi, Natalie!

There's so much good advice above that I hesitate to add more!

This is a beautifully observed and really nicely composed shot of a very beautiful flower.

For apertures, a higher number means a smaller hole in the middle of hte lens, and this gives a picture that has a bigger range of things in focus. If you had used f/16 instead of f/3.5, most of the flower could be sharp at the same time. As it is, tiny areas are actually quite sharp (some pollen inside, and the top of the lowest bud). Highly selective focus is great fun, but is very demanding, and not generally used for flower shots.

You may need to increase the ISO value to do get a small aperture and retain a high shutter speed, to avoid camera shake. That shouldn't be a problem.

I'm going to add a mod, just increasing the contrast a little, and sharpening the whole lot, to see if that makes it look sharper overall.
dark_lord Plus
13 2.1k 506 England
15 Jul 2014 11:30AM

Quote: It's probably why people mention placing cards etc behind the subject?

Yes. I should have mentioned that as an option, as it's something I do. Sometimes because it really does make the difference, and other times just as a variation. A lovely diffuse background of other blooms can look very good also., so it's finding a good bloom and the right angle.

As for background cards, I have some A4 cards that fit nicely in the pocket of my backpack when I'm out. Black and white look good, but don't rule out other colours, for example a textured cream paper would give the feel of a book illustration.

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