MACRO VS. CLOSE-UP PHOTOGRAPHY

By Vicki Uthe

Something became clear to me recently. I realized the difference between macro and close-up photography and concluded that I’m really more of a close-up photographer than a macro person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the main difference as I understand it: With macro, you need a tripod, a non-moving subject, a lot of patience and you get in SO close to a subject that many times you need a caption to tell you what it is. With close-up, you can shoot it with most lenses, you get very close to your subject with a zoom or by walking closer but can still tell what it is without question and you can do it successfully with a moving subject.

The two images above, shot in Costa Rica in 2012, were taken with the 100 mm Canon macro lens. At the time I was SURE I was shooting macro. I even set the lens for it. Turns out these are really just close-ups. If it were a true macro image a single water drop would nearly fill the frame as would only a few of these frog eggs. (I think they are frog eggs).

I decided to dive into my archive and pull up all images shot with my two macro lenses. The first one was a Canon 100mm, f/2.8. I loved that lens and it worked well for me but in pulling up the images I began to realize I mostly shot close-ups in macro mode or not in macro mode at all but at 100mm. My other lens is the Olympus 60mm, f/2.8 that I got when I switched to the mirrorless micro four-thirds format camera a couple of years ago. Same thing. Most of my images are either close-ups in macro mode or just shooting at 60mm.

I pulled up over 8700 images shot with those two lenses and precious few could be considered truly macro. My minimalist, photograph as you go shooting style does not lend itself to true macro photography. I like to travel light with as little gear as possible.

At the very LEAST a good macro image requires a tripod and a subject that is very still. A macro lens will reduce the depth of field (the space in your image that is in focus) to the width of a credit card. This means that you must be very precise as to what you are focussing on. The slightest breeze or movement will put a flower or insect out of focus.

If you are truly interested in exploring the world of macro photography I have a resource for you. My good friend, Amy Horn, recently wrote a book with Bruce Taubert, a retired wildlife biologist, on this very subject. You can check out their book and order it here: The Art of Macro Photography

The head of this praying mantis is one of the few images I have that could truly be considered macro. It is handheld and my subject was standing very still.

I’m not sure where the line actually is between close-up and macro. This image shows how small the depth of field (the area in focus) is. His eye is about the only thing that is sharp. Always focus on the eyes.

Right? Close-up or Macro? All I know is I should have used a tripod.

I would for sure consider this one just a close-up. And it didn’t jump on me so I was happy about that. Not sure how much closer I would have been willing to get…

This little red frog was pretty tiny sitting on someone’s finger but I would still classify it as a close-up.

I really liked this image to show the shallow depth of field when your lens is in macro mode. This is rusted barbed wire wrapped around more wire. If you look close one strand is in focus while the one right next to it, and a little back, is not. I can not stress enough how crazy shallow the area in focus is with macro shooting. To the point where there is now software that allows you to focus stack. You take many images and continually adjust the focus only to “stack” them later to create an image where the whole subject is in focus. Check it out, it’s in Amy and Bruce’s book. Pretty fascinating.

Well, that’s all I have for macro. In writing this I’ve learned that macro is not my area of focus, so to speak, in photography. It is a fascinating avenue to explore, however, if you are interested.

Happy Shooting!!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

How To Create Your Own Blog

By Meng Tay

There are many reasons why you want to write a blog. Sure, you can share stories and pictures of your travels, family, friends, and what you are doing on Facebook, Instagram and a myriad of other social media websites.  A blog, however, allows you to write a longer story, enhanced it with photographs and videos, design how it looks, and even make money for you if you do it right.

One of the easiest ways to create your own blog is using Blogger.com.  There are other blogging websites, of course, but Blogger.com is free and easy to create your own blog.  Here are the steps:

  1. Create a Google account (because it is owned by Google).  This means creating a Gmail account.  If you are already using Gmail, then you are all set.  Even if you don’t plan to use Gmail, you need to create this account.
  2. Go to the blogger.com website. Click on “Create Your Blog” orange box in the middle.
  3. The next screen you’ll see is asking you to “Create a Blog”.  Here you need to pick a Title, which can be changed; a Blog address, which cannot be changed; and a Theme that can be changed anytime.  You can have your blog Title and blog Address to be the same.  Pick a title that expresses what your blog is all about.  For example, if it’s about travel, you can call it “TravelWithJoe”.

Finish this step by clicking on “Create blog!” at the bottom of the screen.

4. You will see the screen below.  This is like your Home screen when you are logged into blogger. The next step is to start writing a New Post.  A Post is an entry in a blog.  Click on “New Post” at the top of the screen.

Now you will see a screen like this below.  First, you need to give your Post a title that reflects what this post is all about. Something like, “How to pack for a safari”.  Next, you need to pick the type of font you want for the body of your post.  In the middle of the top menu bar are three important functions:

  • Link: this allows you to add a link to an external article or website to your post.  For example, instead of writing a long explanation about a city, you can add a link to Wikipedia about the city.  It saves you a lot of time having to repeat what’s already out there on the internet.
  • Photos:  a blog without photographs is like eating bagels without cream cheese.  By clicking on the photos icon, you bring up a screen giving you the choice of where you want your photos to be uploaded from.  It basically brings up the Finder (on a Mac) or Folder (on your Windows PC).

The following screen says “Add Images”.  Click on Choose Files and it will bring up the next screen.

This screen asks you to select the images to be loaded.  It can be a file or a picture from the Photos album.  I like to put my processed pictures in my Photos album (on Mac) so that it’s easy to see and upload to a blog, Facebook, or any other media. You can select multiples pictures or files at a time to upload.  To select multiple pictures/files at a time, use the Select and Command key together.

This is what it looks like when a picture is uploaded.  To add it to the blog, click on the picture to highlight it, then click on the “Add selected” button at the bottom.

The following screen shows what the post looks like when a picture is added.  You can change the size of the picture and also add a caption by selecting it

  • Videos – the process to add videos is similar to adding photos. There is a limit to how big the video file can be. I don’t know exactly what the limit is but I guess anything less than a 1-minute video is fine.

All you need now is to add a story to your blog.  Remember to save the post every few minutes to make sure you don’t lose anything you’ve added.  One of the disadvantages of Blogger is you have to be online to use it.  If you don’t save it and you lose your internet connection, you may lose everything that you have added.

When you have finished, you should Preview your post before Publishing it. This gives you a chance to see what your readers see and correct any mistakes or change your layout.  When you are sure that’s what you want others to see, go back your post and Publish it.  Voilà!  You have just created the first Post in your Blog!

The above gives you the basic steps to create a simple blog.  You can customize and design it in many different ways by using the Layout and Theme functions.  You can also make money from your blog by signing up with AdSense.  Click on the Earnings function to learn how to do that.

I have been using Blogger for almost 10 years.  Here is what my blog looks like:

https://mengineurope.blogspot.com

What I like about Blogger is it has an excellent Help section.  Google has a staff that answers your questions.  There is also a big community of bloggers that can also help you. If you don’t get it right at first, don’t worry.  “Rome was not built in a day”.  Keep tinkling and playing with it until you are happy with your design.

Happy Blogging!

Meng Tay is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Plane Bored (Or Just Plain Bored)

By Sara Goodnick

There is an answer to keeping yourself amused when flying, even on long flights, if you keep a camera close by. It’s easier with a mirrorless camera, but a newer cell phone can also work well.

1. Get a window seat in front of the wing, as close as possible to the front, if flying regular class. If you are behind the wing, the exhaust will have a negative effect on the air quality and your images will not be sharp.

2. Bring something to clean the window with, such as a soft cloth. Don’t use your good lens cloth-it might get contaminated with something awful. We were flying out of San Francisco to Hawaii during a gorgeous sunset. I was so happy to have been seated next to a relatively clean window.

3. Watch for interesting land patterns, cloud formations, shadows, storms, story-telling objects. Remember you are moving fast, and they will disappear very quickly! Be ready and don’t hesitate to shoot. Flying low into Phoenix from the NE during monsoon season has great potential for seeing afternoon storms.

Flying into places with a body of water nearby has many possibilities for interesting captures.

4. The images will improve when you take them into an image-processing program. I brought out some contrast and detail in these clouds in Lightroom CC.

5. When you can’t shoot from the window, look around where you are sitting. Ask yourself, “What would this look like through my lens?” This was looking into my glass of ice before I dropped it onto my lap.

Have fun! Then stretch out your back and neck muscles by turning the other way for awhile!

Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

TAHOE AND THE WEATHER

By Vicki Uthe

This blog is being written to showcase the extreme difference a day can make in the weather. It is also being shared to encourage you to go out in it, the weather I mean, and take advantage of nature’s drama unfolding before you.

Over President’s Day weekend this last February I had the good fortune of being  a part of a family retreat in South Lake Tahoe. I had never been there and was really looking forward to it. I was half expecting snow covered ground but realized they were probably getting similar weather patterns to Flagstaff, where I live, and on Saturday, our first full day there, the sun was shining, the water was calm and in the sun it was a lovely temperature.

Here’s a wide shot of the swimming hole created by the docks right below our cabin. The water was SO clear and the water had slight ripples on it from a light breeze.

The shoreline felt like a small pond, not a 23 mile long lake. My wife and I decided this would be a GREAT place to bring our stand up paddle boards back to and do some exploring.

Literally the calm before the storm. We kayak and SUP a lot on Lake Powell and usually  can only experience  calm waters like this early in the morning. We call it glass. The water is like glass and it is SO beautiful and serene to paddle board on.

Here is a nice image of my cousin and her family sitting on the corner of the pier enjoying the warm afternoon temperatures.

Vessels like this paddle wheel can only float on calm waters. These kinds of boats were not made for the waves that would come the next day.

We spent a lot of time on those docks that first day. It was so pretty and warm. I’ve never seen a seaplane land on Lake Powell! I’ve only seen them near ocean towns so this was a real treat. But again, it could only do it on calm waters.

By Saturday afternoon the winds were beginning to pick up. Here you can see the difference in the chop of the water.

By Sunday the winds were gusting at over 50 miles per hour. This brave, or foolish, soul was braving the waves on the once serene dock. Due to the spray I stayed back with my camera gear so as not to get soaked.

The once calm shoreline turned into angry ocean size waves. It was spectacular to be out it. I had to really set my stance so as to not get knocked over by the wind.

The waves did this thing where they would start at one end of the dock and move to the other end. It was really cool to watch.

This is that calm corner of the pier that my cousin and her family were sitting and calmly visiting just 12 hours before. This wave would have sent them swimming!

I highly encourage you to go out in weather and shoot. But be smart! Don’t go out when lightning is close and be sure to protect your camera gear from the elements.

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Traveling with Your Camera Gear

By Sara Goodnick

Since there have been a few questions regarding flying with camera gear from some of our participants on various workshops, I decided it might be helpful to put together some info for everyone. Some of these tips have come from my fellow photographers and I thank them.

If you plan to travel a lot, consider applying for Trusted Traveler and TSA Pre-check status. You will get entry into quicker security lines, and for Trusted Traveler, quicker re-entry into the USA if traveling abroad.

Airline seating: be sure you are not in a bulkhead row so you have a seat in front to stow your gear under.

Carry your camera gear on board as carry-on luggage. Do not under any circumstances allow your cameras or lenses to be checked. Carry them on with you and keep them with you. Place them under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin ahead of you so you can see them at all times. There are many stories of photographers checking a well-packed camera bag and finding their lenses in tiny pieces when they arrived. Keep the other essentials right there with you, too, such as the chargers, batteries, the memory cards, and laptop.

Regarding camera bags as luggage, be sure of the weight and size limitations by checking their specific rules online, and measuring your bags. Be prepared to move everything fragile into a smaller collapsible bag that you can place under the seat in front of you if forced to gate check your bag. I always keep an extra nylon bag, or collapsible daypack and a sweater for padding for the fragile gear in my camera bag carry-on. If flying with a partner, maybe that person can take on some of your gear in an emergency. Have another collapsible bag ready.

Remove the lenses from the cameras and use the body caps to cover the sensors, and cap both ends of the lenses. The extra stress on a camera and lens bumping around together can damage the connection between the two.

Bring a good tripod. A few years ago at the Grand Canyon, one of our participants had set hers up a few feet back from a steep cliff preparing for a beautiful sunset. It was quiet with no wind. She turned away to get something from her bag, and when she turned back, her camera and tripod had gone over the edge never to be seen again! It was a good camera on a light tripod that just became unbalanced.

If you bring one of the smaller, lighter tripods, you can stabilize it with a strap, or cord attached to it and your camera bag, a rock, or other large heavy object. Do not extend it to full height.

I know people who take their tripods on as a carry-on piece of luggage. Some airlines do not even count it as one of your carry-on pieces. Check with your airline ahead of time.

Scott-E-Vest https://www.scottevest.com/best-travel-clothing.shtmlis a company that specializes in travel clothing with many pockets for everything. They have clothing for both men and women. Their vests are great for photographers. I don’t have the specialty photographer’s vest because it’s new, but I love the one I have. They don’t look like traditional photographer vests, so you might be less of a target for thieves.

Speaking of thieves, I always remove the brand name neck strap that comes with a new camera and replace it with a plain one (with extra padding for comfort). I don’t want anyone knowing what my gear is. Some even go so far as to cover the brand name on their camera with black electrical tape.

For cold weather destinations, wear your hiking boots on the plane. Take layers, including down sweaters, windbreakers, and wind pants, as well as your jacket, hat, and gloves. Look into purchasing fisherman’s specialty mittens that free up your fingers for photography purposes.

Safe travels!

Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Love your camera

By Rick Jacobi

I think this is an important part of one’s photography. A camera that you love and inspires you to shoot. There are many cameras that a person can own today, and they are all good. That being said then you should own a camera that speaks to your heart.

I am a street photographer and usually carry two cameras with me. I have bought and sold cameras in the last few years trying to find the combination that I really love. I have had expensive and inexpensive cameras that for me were not fun to use. I would not shoot as often because it was not enjoyable using these cameras. I would make up excuses in my head and would lose interest in shooting.

You will gain more creativity, more passion and motivation if you “Love Your Camera”. Don’t worry about what some other photographer uses for a camera. Remember they are all good. Just use a camera that is fun for you.  You might be thinking that I have this brand of camera with all the lens that I don’t really enjoy shooting with. What should I do? “Sell” it and get the camera system you would love to use. If you are not sure which one, rent them to find the one you love. It will be worth the money for all the fun you will have, and your photos will be better.

Unless you are a professional photographer, your photography is a hobby. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Enjoy your camera.

Rick Jacobi is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Know your Equipment and Location

By David Halgrimson

Since moving back to Minnesota I have been researching places to go for photo opportunities and found a couple near where I live. One is Swan Park in Monticello Minnesota 15 miles west and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge 25 miles north of my home. Both easily accessed.

We moved back to MN in November just when the Trumpeter Swans were starting to return to a section of the Mississippi River in Monticello. They stay from November thru February when they mate and leave for their nesting locations. The Swans along with geese and ducks like this area as the river is open due to a power plant on the river to the north and because for the past 30 plus years they get free breakfast and lunch. The Swans are the main draw at Swan Park, a very small park, maybe 40 feet wide, overlooking the river where the birds spend their days, eating, mating and fighting.

For more information on the park and the swans visit this site, http://www.monticellocci.com/pages/Swans.

About knowing the location, not just the Swan Park location, but any location. When visiting in August I went to check out Swan park only to find out there are no swans there in august, but now I knew right where to go when they returned… scouting day one. Once settled after our move, I went back and was pleasantly surprised by not only the swans, ducks and geese but the sheer numbers of them. As the story goes, over 30 years ago there were only a handful of swans and now there can be as many as 2,700 on any given day. I needed to know how to get the best view, what equipment and clothing would be best, it’s dang cold here November thru February. Because people are not allowed down at the river’s edge the area is somewhat secluded, so a good winter coat and stocking hat, warm boots and most of all special gloves. I went through three different sets of gloves to find those that would somewhat keep my hands from freezing. I found mittens with internal gloves that fold open to reveal gloved fingers and thumb to operate the camera. The glove portion of the index and middle finger have a special coating that allows for touch screen operation. Still, my fingers get very cold and I need to warm them occasionally. Next, what kind of lighting might be best for the subject. This day was bright sunlight and I found that the white swans had a good chance of blowing out the histogram, maybe a cloudy or partly cloudy day would work better or perhaps lens filters might help… scouting day 2. Oh, yes I did take pictures.

So now about knowing your equipment. On scouting day 2 I took my Lumix GX8 with a 40-150mm f/2.8 and a 300mm f/4 prime lenses and no tripod. The birds are very active, swimming, diving, taking off, landing, fighting and feeding. A slow shutter would not work but how fast should it be? I tried 400-500 with some good results for the swimming and feeding but needed much faster for the flying, landings and takeoffs.

The Lumix and lenses being new to me and not having used it for birds before, I was not quite sure what settings to use so experimented with a number with mixed results and not to my personal standards. I also found the 300mm a bit too close for many of the shots but great for the birds coming in or taking off…scouting day two.

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 100 1/640th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

Not quite as sharp as I wanted as can be seen here. Part of that is the aperture of f/4 giving less DOF.

I went home to review my images and decided to do some research on best settings for the camera and lens combinations. After some testing and experimenting and finding the settings I thought would work best for me, I decided to setup a custom setting for wildlife on both camera bodies. This included the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, high speed burst and more, this way when I am shooting birds and fast moving subjects I don’t have to remember settings I can just set the camera(s) to custom 1 and start shooting and making small adjustments as needed from there.

Now with all the scouting complete and camera settings configured it was time to return for a real shoot. I took both camera bodies, one with the 40-150mm and one with the 300mm and, yes, a tripod. I used the 300mm on the tripod for the birds in the air and the 40-150mm hand held for the action on the water.

All the scouting, researching, testing and camera setup paid off big time. I went on a bright but cloudy day, cameras all ready, my warmest gloves, set up the tripod with the 300mm, hung the other around my neck and started shooting. The results were to me more than I expected.

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 hand held

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

As can be seen in these the DOF and sharpness are much better. This is due to the faster shutter and and smaller aperture settings.

Know you equipment and do your scouting, it pays off in the long run.

Check out Arizona Highways PhotoScapes at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes