Macro Help

GJC

Active Member
Hi,

I'm an avid onlooker at this craft and have decided to dabble into the unknown. Below are some of my first shots with a new DSLR & Macro lens. I purchased the 450d & Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM - 1st week in and I'm finding this hobby tough going, but very addictive:thumbsup:!

How can I improve these shots they don't have that wow/punch factor that many shots have:mad:. Any advice is welcome :) The Jpegs are 100q exported from LR.

http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/4979/img143452qr1.jpg

f-stop: f/4
Exposure Time: 1/60sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Partial
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program





f-stop: f/5.6
Exposure Time: 1/320sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Spot
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program




f-stop: f/5.6
Exposure Time: 1/320sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-200
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Pattern
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program




f-stop: f/4.5
Exposure Time: 1/250sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Spot
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program




f-stop: f/5
Exposure Time: 1/250sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Spot
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program




f-stop: f/7.1
Exposure Time: 1/500sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Spot
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program




f-stop: f/5.6
Exposure Time: 1/160sec.
Iso Speed: ISO-400
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Max Aperture: 3
Metering Mode: Spot
WB: Auto
Program Mode: Normal Program
 

onefivenine

Novice Member
Cute kitten!

The fly shots look over exposed. What settings were you using? Post the exif data and we can see what setting the camera was on and help you further.

Please read the FAQ as well.
 

denno75uk

Well-known Member
#3 is a good composition IMO. Looks like the harsh sunlight has been a bit of an obstacle. Where the exposure is more controlled in the others, the composition is weaker.
I struggle with the DOF of my 70-200 a 2.8 and 0.5m. So I'm impressed with the way you seem to have the measure of getting the shots focussed.
As for improving, search the forums. Enough members here knocking out sterling stuff as you'll no doubt have seen.
 

GJC

Active Member
Cute kitten!

The fly shots look over exposed. What settings were you using? Post the exif data and we can see what setting the camera was on and help you further.

Please read the FAQ as well.
Edited to add Exif, I made some minor adjustments in LR but didnt increase the exposure.

Originals shot in Raw.

Thanks for the comments btw, kitten is 3 weeks old.
 

GJC

Active Member
#3 is a good composition IMO. Looks like the harsh sunlight has been a bit of an obstacle. Where the exposure is more controlled in the others, the composition is weaker.
I struggle with the DOF of my 70-200 a 2.8 and 0.5m. So I'm impressed with the way you seem to have the measure of getting the shots focussed.
As for improving, search the forums. Enough members here knocking out sterling stuff as you'll no doubt have seen.

Thanks - looking at the work here has inspired me to take a leap of faith, and a wedge from my account!

Maybe a filter would improve the harshness of the sunlight?
 

Yandros

Novice Member
The macro guys here just seem to keep raising the bar every time they post :eek:...don't expect to be able to get those sorts of results straight away.

The 'wow factor' comes from a combination of technical skill, the right hardware and an eye for a good shot.

Your fly macros suffer a lot from harsh light, but more importantly the surroundings simply aren't that hot. Sometimes, even with the most photogenic subject, the background or angle will make the shot suck...and there's no point even raising the camera to your eye. For example, one of the dragonflies in our garden had a habit of perching on the white plastic edging of a garden frame. I got some great sharp macros, but I might as well have titled them "Ugly bit of white plastic - with dragonfly"

Ok, here are some examples.

Firstly - "Fence with Butterfly" :thumbsdow



Sure he sat still, and he was pretty, but that background dooms him to the reject bin!


Next "Blue butterfly on dead leaf" :mad:



I was happy with the angle, the composition, the background, and the depth of field (the head and the leading wing edges are nice and sharp)...but he only sat still on that nasty dead leaf. The result is ok, but not 'wow'.

Lastly, we have this guy...



Is that the 'wow/pop factor' you're looking for? A nicely curved, slightly chalky Camassia leaf stands out well against the background greenery (which is convenienly all far enough away to give an even blur. The shot is the best of about 20. The only extra technology is a macro flash rig, which does help with the pop factor.

If you don't have a very photogenic garden, find your nearest RHS garden, or a sunny meadow with plenty of wild flowers. That should give you a 'target rich environment' - the rest is mostly patience and attention to detail.

PS
I see you've just added the exif :thumbsup: Change to Aperture priority to give you control of the f-number (and therefore the depth of field). Having said that, you've done a great job getting the head of that fly in sharp focus at only f5.6!
 

Yandros

Novice Member
Thanks - looking at the work here has inspired me to take a leap of faith, and a wedge from my account!

Maybe a filter would improve the harshness of the sunlight?
Or slightly cheaper - your shadow :clap:

Sometimes direct sun helps the shot, but often the contrast is too harsh, particularly with reflective critters or flowers. I like broken fast moving clouds in the sky, so I can alternative between sun and shade shots!
 

GJC

Active Member
Yandros,

Personally I like all of the shots especially 2 & 3, the butterfly is beautiful. What camera/lens & settings did you use for those?

I took my shots (except for the kitten) yesterday around 19.00.

Thanks for the suggestions :)
 

onefivenine

Novice Member
My advice is to think a lot about the background of the subject as it can make or break an image. Avoid reflective leaves and/or catching too much light reflecting in insect wings/shells etc. The harsh reflections cause muted colours and dodgy exposure.
Subject aspect is very important too, a head-on or side-on shot of an insect has a lot more impact then an overhead shot.
 

Yandros

Novice Member
My advice is to think a lot about the background of the subject as it can make or break an image. Avoid reflective leaves and/or catching too much light reflecting in insect wings/shells etc. The harsh reflections cause muted colours and dodgy exposure.
Subject aspect is very important too, a head-on or side-on shot of an insect has a lot more impact then an overhead shot.
Agreed :thumbsup: Head on or side on. Even for things like butterflies a top down view of the wings doesn't tend to work apart from as a scientific study.
 

Yandros

Novice Member
Yandros,

Personally I like all of the shots especially 2 & 3, the butterfly is beautiful. What camera/lens & settings did you use for those?

I took my shots (except for the kitten) yesterday around 19.00.

Thanks for the suggestions :)
All are with a Nikon D200+Nikon 105mm f2.8 VR Macro, and the last two with a Nikon R1C1 macro flash (ie two low power flashguns angled towards the subject). The beetle was 100 ISO, 1/160th sec, f7.1. Don't get too hung up on the technology or settings though. The key things are subject, composition, background and light. Macro flash does make life easier, but you can quite happily manage with good natural light. If you're getting frustrated bug chasing (and it IS hard!), start with flower closeups, then do pretty much the same thing but with a bug on the flower :thumbsup:
 

onefivenine

Novice Member
If you're getting frustrated bug chasing (and it IS hard!), start with flower closeups, then do pretty much the same thing but with a bug on the flower :thumbsup:
This is a good point. I need a lot of patience for bug chasing. It drives me mental sometimes! It's not just a case of see the bug and snap. There's the background to expose for then frame the bug, try to get as much of it in focus as possible with the very limited depth of focus. Usually by the time I get that far the critter has moved! :rotfl:

Got this static one though - they're a lot easier! In this shot I exposed for the background and used flash to light the subject (with -2 stops Flash Exposure Comp). Spiders on webs like this usually have to be overhead shots, which makes it a bit of a boring shot in my book. Good practise though!


ISO320, 1/30s, f/11, 65mm, 1:1 magnification
 

GJC

Active Member
This is a good point. I need a lot of patience for bug chasing. It drives me mental sometimes! It's not just a case of see the bug and snap. There's the background to expose for then frame the bug, try to get as much of it in focus as possible with the very limited depth of focus. Usually by the time I get that far the critter has moved! :rotfl:

Got this static one though - they're a lot easier! In this shot I exposed for the background and used flash to light the subject (with -2 stops Flash Exposure Comp). Spiders on webs like this usually have to be overhead shots, which makes it a bit of a boring shot in my book. Good practise though!


ISO320, 1/30s, f/11, 65mm, 1:1 magnification
I'll try one of these shots at some point and bore you lot too :D even a blade of grass isn't safe at the moment:)
 

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