Jan 10, 2019

The Plan

I found this idea on Improvephotography.com Basically to improve your photography skills you pick a specific subject or photographic area to explore for each week for a year. I hope to eventually reach a rate of one subject per week. So far I've completed part of one subject and it has been a month so we’ll have to see if I can pick up steam.
I decided to add a bit of structure that I learned on the "Let's talk Photography" podcast that I subscribe to that is published by a wonderful Irish fellow, Bart Busschots. The particular podcast dealt with projects (see link below). Bart suggested following a five stage process for projects. The stages are,
  1. Research
  2. Planning
  3. Shooting
  4. Processing
  5. Critiquing (actually Bart used "Editing" but I thought that was confusing)
If you want to understand this method, I suggest you listen to the podcast. Bart can explain the details far better than I can. You then follow the process and publish the results with a narrative describing each step in the process. In order to keep organized, I use a mind map to capture what subject areas I want to explore and to keep notes on each week's shoot. I also keep the five process steps handy so I can remind myself of the process. If you are interested in mind maps, there are many applications out there to choose from. I use Freeplane, it is a free java based app that runs on any platform and it's functionality is extensible via scripting. You can find Freeplane at www.freeplane.org.

In each week's photos you can view a larger version of the photo and get technical details by clicking on the photo. Click anywhere away from the photo to return to normal viewing.




Jan 26, 2019

(Week 1) Macro photography

Research:

In my research phase I found many sources on YouTube that describe the basics of macro photography. Below are links to the ones that I found to be helpful.
Basically you can use a lens made for macro photography, known surprisingly as a "macro lens", or you can take your regular lens and turn it around and mount it backwards using a special filter adapter, or lastly you can use a set of extension tubes that go between your camera and your lens.
If you want the maximum depth of field (because in macro photography the depth of field is very small) you need to use the smallest aperture. This means that you will need to decrease the shutter speed significantly for ambient lighting or use a flash. If using a slow shutter speed and ambient lighting, you will also need to use a tripod. A tripod is fine for fixed subjects, but for shooting bugs or moving objects outside, a flash is less cumbersome. If you have a bright sunny day and use a higher ISO, you can get away without a flash or tripod.

Planning

I already had a set of extension tubes and I’ve found them to be the most flexible and cheapest way to go, so that is what I planned to use. My set comes with three different sizes that you can use individually or combine them to get a multitude of magnification factors.
My plan was to take several shots both indoors and outside, with and without a flash, and at several aperture settings for various amounts of depth of field.

Shooting

I used a tripod for indoor photos like my pin cushion shots, but for outdoor work it was really cumbersome to use a tripod for macro shots. Most of the outdoor shots I used an on-camera flash and covered the flash with a piece of paper to soften the light. That is what I used on the mushrooms. I also used a flash on the pin cushion shots but didn't use any diffusion. I was able to use an off-camera flash and change the direction of the light.



Processing

All photos were processed in Apple Photos app. Only minor adjustments to highlights and shadows were made.

Critiquing

I liked the direct lighting on the straight pins and safety pins and the shots of the flowers looked better with a sheet of paper in front of the flash. I also liked the side lighting on the pin cushion shots. Unfortunately I didn't see any bugs where I could get a good macro shot. I saw a jumping spider but he jumped away and I couldn't find where he went. I hope to go on a hike nearby soon and get some bug shots.