Colours and «croak croak»

Wednesday was another day for the macro lens. This time at the Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.

These froggies were in glass cabinets, so the main objective is to avoid reflections:

Then, plantie thingies, with some brilliant spring-like colours, because it’s spring, at least in the greenhouse:

 

And then there’s the niece:

Settings were: 5D Mk3 with macro lens; manual exposure mode, 800 ISO; various aperture and shutter speed settings achieved using the built-in light meter.

 

Focus Tip: AF-C/AI-Servo and back button focus

I am often asked “can I not leave my camera on AI-Servo (AF-C if you are a Nikon etc)?

The answer is: not a great idea normally. Because you cannot recompose. The moment you try that, taking your focus spot(s) away from your subject, the camera focuses on whatever is behind the subject!

But there is a trick, and I used it today to photograph these amazing insects:

Namely this:

  1. Set your autofocus mode to AI Servo/AF-C.
  2. Select “back button focus” in your camera’s menu (i.e. focus when you press a button on the back of the camera, not whenever you half-press the shutter button).

Now you focus as follows:

  1. Follow the insect, or hockey player, or whatever you are shooting.
  2. While doing this, keep the back button focus pressed, so your camera adjusts to follow the subject’s distance.
  3. But when the butterfly sits and you want to recompose, let go of the back buttoin focus. You can now move the camera to recompose, yet when you shoot, the camera will not adjust its focus.

Done and done!

A quick note about that amazing insect. Nature knows what many beginning photographers do not: you need a catch light in the eye to make it look real and alive. The butterfly’s owl eye has that catch light (the white circle part ion the “pupil”)! Amazing, eh? So learn from nature and always include a catchlight in your portraits.

 

This Weekend’s Flash Course

…was a good thing for all participants. Flash photography is a key to creative shooting.

Here’s me, and yes I need a haircut”:

One of the students outside:, using the Outdoors Recipe (1/250 sec / f8 / 100 ISO):

Charlie (who I think should be called Zoolander) and a shadow:

Learn to use flash, if you do not yet know how to do it. You will be grateful to yourself. I do private training, or you can sign up at a school, or you can read a good book (hint): but however you do it, learn this!

Coins and Uncle Bob

Photographing coins is notoriously tough. They are shiny and matte; the shiny bits can be dark or light depending on how you shoot them; they need to show coin detail without showing dust detail; and above all they are three-dimensional, not flat: to do it properly takes a lot of equipment and skill.

But you can do a lot with a little: an 80-20 rule says you can get 80% of perfect with 20% of the effort.

Let’s take a look. A macro lens and a ring flash gives me the following, for a 2015 proof quality coin.

First, the ring flash is held not quite right:

A better positioning gives me consistent results like this, for the obverse (front) side:

And here’s the reverse (“back”) side:

Not bad for five minutes work, no?

Remember that 80-20 rule. Often, you can do with “good enough”. Like when selling on eBay: perfection makes people suspect that you have simply copied a commercial picture, and hence the item pictured is not your item. So this is a good compromise: pretty good, little effort.

I used:

  1. Macro lens
  2. Ring flash (or in this case, Orbis ring flash adapter)
  3. Flash set to manual, 1/4 power
  4. White balance set to flash
  5. Camera set to 200 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/11

And Bob’s your uncle!