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I'm learning macro, masters share your secrets

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by VictorM, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. Okay, finally the macro bug got me, so a couple of weeks ago I bought the 105VR after reading a few threads here. So, I'm practicing and taking photos of everything -- so far insects have been my favourite :rolleyes: 

    Here is a sample of my better shots, I appreciate your comments, as I've learned so much already just from reading various threads (e.g. keep the eyes in focus!!)

    1. One frequent issue I'm finding is not enough DOF. I know that is a learning issue, since the DOF at these distances is razor sharp and even a whisper of wind throws the subject out of focus. I am doing this all handheld and need to keep a reasonable shutter speed, and don't want to push the ISO too high. So I'm bracketing like crazy in the field, and discarding lots when I get home :smile:

    2. I'm finding a tendency to want to really sharpen some of my photos (perhaps in an attempt to recover some perceived loss of detail), am I going to far?

    3. The other thing I've been wondering is if macro benefits from a higher MP camera??? I'm currently using a D70s, and have been pleased with it for most other types of photos. Sometimes, I think I'm missing some clarity in the image -- of course I know there are other things that will cause that (e.g. handheld!), and that poor technique is not solved by a better body. Do you think I'm pushing the limits of the D70s?


    bee (I posted these two already in a collective shoot, sorry).


    another bee (I burned out the flower a bit)

    drop of water and a bug

    here's a flower for some balance :smile:
  2. All good questions, I have the same problem with the DOF, Its tough to control especially on moving bugs.

    Great pis by the way.
  3. Thanks, I've been enjoying your stuff too. Particularly the ants you recently posted, which I'm finding very challenging to get right because they move so erratically.
  4. Logan

    Logan Guest

    these are great! i certainly understand your problem with DOF, it is so limited and you have to find ways to work around it and decide what you want sharp and what you want thrown out, sometimes itworks and sometimes it doesnt!
  5. holy f :p  nice pics
    i really like the first pics, the flower pic was kinda boring compared to them:p 
  6. Hi Victor !

    I guess that as you bought the Nikon 105 VR, you should take advantage of the "vibration reduction" it offers... that is, not to be affraid of shooting at rather low shutter-speeds, say 1:30 of a second, hand-held !

    Another thing to consider is that, the DOF only depends of the f-stop you're using, so if you don't want to use your camera/lens in ALL MANUAL mode, choose the A mode and set your aperture of at least f/8 or more (i often shoot at f/13 > f/19 !).

    You can also slightly increase your ISO setting to get better speed (or aperture)...

  7. Thanks guys, I appreciate the kind words. Yeah, insects are the best!
  8. Thanks J-P, I've been reluctant to go that far with the aperture but it looks like I need to give it a try. Do you find any problems with diffraction when you start getting to f/19?
  9. No, but i don't have the 105 VR: i use a Tamron SP90 wich is 4 years old (and i wouldn't trade it for anything else... except perhaps a Nikkor 200 mm f/4 !).

    In fact, the only thing that might happen is that, after f/16, lenses -usually- tend to loose -ohhh very slightly- their IQ !


  10. Victor,

    I will answer #3 first. No you are not pushing the D70s too far with this kind of stuff, it is more than capable of producing astounding results. Take a look at this site and you will see what I mean, they are all D70 with reversed lens macro. http://www.mdsign.nl/fotos/D70/

    I will go against a previous poster and say that in my opinion most lenses have a sweet spot and I have found the best results with my macro lenses (Tamron 90mm and Sigma 180mm) with f/9-f/13. Not only does that give me excellent IQ but it also gives nice diffussed background that separate the subject from it's surroundings.

    DOF also comes from the magnification ratio that you get from being at a specific focus distance. At 1:1 the DOF is a lot less than 1:2.

    I always use a tripod whenever I can and if possible a cable release or remote.

    I shoot early morning and late evening when the insects are less active.

    Learn about your subjects so you understand how they are going to react. eg dragonflies often return to the same perch so if you wait nearby you might get a shot.

    Most images if shot RAW will need some sharpening, just watch out for halo's created by over doing it.

    There are loads more tips but I would recommend some good macro books such as the one by John Shaw, Ross Hoddinott or Robert Thompson.

    Keep at it and practise like crazy.


  11. Great shots for a start!
    Most of what is important has already been mentioned, except for the fact that shooting insect macros involves a lot of "trial and error".

    All that remains for me to say (as an entomologist) is that all your "bees" are in fact hover flies :smile:

  12. Thanks for the tips and website Alex. I'll keep at it. It's certainly a lot of fun.

    Thank you! I'm not currently very knowledgeable about insects, but the more time I spend photographing them, the more interested I've become in understanding them, so I appreciate this info.
  13. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007

    These are fine for early macro pictures, and the hoverfly pictures are very good.

    One of the things that will make a substantial difference to your macro photogrpahy is the use of flash, and in particular I would recommend the (R1)C1 flask kit for ease of use and convenience.

    If you can, try and borrow or rent one and see how much difference it can make, in lighting when using small apertures and in freezing motion when shooting handheld. Also, you can stay at ISO100, and I notice that the backgrounds in some of your images look noisy. I have posted this before, but this is a D2X/105VR/R1C1 flash kit image at ISO800:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Easy to get good exposure and bring out subtle detail. Keep shooting and post more as you get them.
  14. Thank you very much Simon for the encouragement and suggestions. I was reading with interest some recent threads about the R1C1 and it is look like it would help.
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