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How it was done

By dudler
Several of us who haunt the Critique Gallery have been giving advice on close-up pictures - and one or two have posted examples of how it should (generally) look.

I decided to post a 'how it is done' set.

The first image is an unremarkable flower close-up - not wonderfully sharp, nor perfect in any other compensating way. The reason was to allow the other shots a context, showing how it was set up.


1 good light;
2 tripod;
3 macro lens;
4 smallish aperture;
5 focus rack under camera;
6 manual focus.

You don't need all of these, or even any of them - but each of them helps make the shot sharp and clear...

The focus rack allows you to adjust focus by moving the camera, instead of changing lens settings - this makes accurate framing easier, as the field of view changes as you focus a lens. Not noticeable in normal shots, but a real pain this close...

All comments welcome (including suggestions for tripod heads - a ball-and-socket is not ideal, I know!

Tags: Tripod Flowers Lily Close-up and macro Focus rack

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NDODS 9 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
22 Mar 2015 9:04AM
An interesting and informative visual tutorial. I was particularly interested to learn about the focusing rack on the tripod, something I have never come across, but its certainly something worth considering. Thanks for sharing John.

Regards Nathan GrinGrinGrin

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PranavMishra 7 52 18 India
22 Mar 2015 10:30AM
this is an informative set, John.. will take time and try to learn more..
Daisymaye 11 23 16 Canada
22 Mar 2015 12:32PM
I must use a tripod. Hate them though. Interesting and informative John, thank you.
fotobee Plus
6 4 3 South Africa
22 Mar 2015 1:46PM
All I can say is that this sure beats the way I take close ups! Regards Martin.
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4097 Canada
22 Mar 2015 2:14PM
Well done, lots of learning for those that want to learn.
dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1606 England
22 Mar 2015 7:28PM
Sandie - I hate and detest tripods, but after doing these shots yesterday, and trying to shoot closeups out of doors today handheld, I am firmly decided - those who swear by them (even if they also swear at them) know whereof they speak...
23 Mar 2015 8:14AM
I can't bear to part with my Benbo Mk1 even though I haven't hefted it in over 10 years, but I do a lot more photography, and get many more keepers, since I stopped using it.
It's horses for courses, I suppose. For macro work... mandatory.
23 Mar 2015 11:19AM
I have two old,heavy one that I have in my furniture studio, that i use for shots I need there. And a lighter very nice one I use for,landscapes, and sometimes for flowers. I have never seen the sliding head. A very nice device. I also fine MF invaluable. On my new 12-40 Oly lens, he switch from AF to MF is a joy, and I use it a lot. Thanks for the tutorial, John.

TanyaH Plus
17 1.3k 409 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2015 2:13PM
Okay, I'll get the unserious, completely flippant comment out of the way first ... When was the last time you dusted your camera, John?! In V5, there's crumbs (or what look like crumbs ...) in the switch!!! Tut Grin

Now the serious question - even though you've kind of explained it in your description, I think I may be missing something vital here ...

What's the difference between using a focus rack between the camera body and the tripod head, and just physically moving the actual tripod backwards and forwards?

That may be an obvious "Durrrr!!" question to some, but as someone who doesn't do extreme macro close up like this it's something I'm now wondering. Why not just move the tripod?

(I know I'm going to probably regret asking this, as the answer'll be blindingly obvious, but ...)
dark_lord Plus
16 2.5k 639 England
23 Mar 2015 10:41PM

Quote:Why not just move the tripod?

You have finer and precise control using the focus rack.
However, seeing as I don't have one and I do macro work I suppose I should think about one though I've never felt the neeed Grin
dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1606 England
23 Mar 2015 10:46PM
Keith's right, Tanya. The rack allows tiny adjustments, easily, without chaging the scale of the image.

It's very much a 'take it on trust, try it, and see' thing - and I'm glad I did!
TanyaH Plus
17 1.3k 409 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2015 9:25AM
Cheers both - see, I knew it'd be a numpty question Grin I always thought a focus rack was to do with stacking focus images to create something that's sharp throughout the depth of field, but obviously not!!
Still, I've learned something new today so cheers for that Smile
dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1606 England
24 Mar 2015 10:50AM
Tanya - It may well be used for that, too. But as I'm a processing numpty, I don't know anything about focus stacking, beyond its existence...

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