The Practicing Photographer

Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

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Video: Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens

Not a lot of people know this, but Oklahoma has really great sounding bugs. That may sound strange but there's just, you here all these really weird noises while we're here. and I want to shoot some of them. So this week on Practicing Photographer, I wanta talk a little bit about shooting macro-photos of bugs. And you know there's never a bug around when you need one. The hotel room's full of them, it seems like. They're, they're always biting me and things like that. But now that I'm out, looking for them I'm not finding any of them.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Shooting a slow-shutter zoom-and-spin shot for light effect NEW
      4m 47s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 11h 46m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 56s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s
    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
      5m 50s
    85. Getting inspired through the work of others
      11m 22s
    86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
      4m 21s
    87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
      3m 3s
    88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
      5m 38s
    89. Shooting stills from a drone
      6m 57s
    90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
      8m 0s
    91. Understanding lens profile correction
      5m 33s
    92. Working with models
      2m 40s
    93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
      10m 32s
    94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
      6m 18s
    95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
      3m 24s
    96. Tips for shooting panoramas
      7m 16s
    97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
      4m 44s
    98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
      5m 35s
    99. Evaluating camera-strap options
      4m 42s
    100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
      3m 31s
    101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
      3m 26s
    102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
      8m 32s
    103. Stitching together stacks of stars
      8m 59s
    104. Understanding how to clean sensor dust
      10m 27s
    105. Dry sensor cleaning
      6m 23s
    106. Cleaning the sensor with moisture
      7m 32s
    107. Composing in the center
      2m 48s
    108. Working with an electronic shutter control
      2m 50s
    109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
      2m 56s
    110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
      7m 8s
    111. Don't be predictable in your framing
      10m 21s
    112. Shooting with ND filter and flash to balance subject and background exposure
      2m 42s
    113. Understanding when to go low contrast
      3m 15s
    114. Reasons for shooting images alone
      4m 5s
    115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
      14m 4s
    116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
      5m 2s
    117. Understanding options for tripod heads
      7m 23s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
11h 52m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Jul 30, 2015

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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens

Not a lot of people know this, but Oklahoma has really great sounding bugs. That may sound strange but there's just, you here all these really weird noises while we're here. and I want to shoot some of them. So this week on Practicing Photographer, I wanta talk a little bit about shooting macro-photos of bugs. And you know there's never a bug around when you need one. The hotel room's full of them, it seems like. They're, they're always biting me and things like that. But now that I'm out, looking for them I'm not finding any of them.

And if you've tried any macro bug, photography, that may be what you've found also. I did not, come here, expecting, to shoot macro. So I didn't bring a macro lens. I did though, bring my, macro lens reversal ring. So, what I've got here, is my normal 24 to 105 millimeter lens flipped around backwards, which turns it into a very capable macro lens. If this is all news to you, if it's a complete mystery that you can do this, check out my Lens-Reversal Macro course. It explains this whole thing that I'm doing.

And I've set up my camera right now with my lens reversed at f16, trying to get as much depth of field as possible. So my hope has been to find some bugs. I can hear them all around me. As I take a step, I'm kind of aware of them jumping away from me, but as I'm stopping and looking around, I'm, I'm not finding any. So, if you've gone out macro shooting, you may have encountered this same thing. Although there's a bee on this flower right now. so I wanted to just talk a little bit about that. You go online and you see these, beautiful macro bug pictures. How do people get them? Do they have special equipment and or special techniques or anything like that? Certainly.

a really nice macro lens can be a great advantage. Although lens reversal ring, is a very effective way, of shooting macro shots. The biggest thing that people who get those great, macro bug shots have is patience. Just extreme, extreme patience. and a lot of time on their hands. It is hard oh, he's back, and he's covered with pollen. It is hard finding bugs to shoot. Now, there are some things you can do to improve your chances of finding some. I'm out here at about three in the afternoon.

It's pretty much the hottest part of the day and a lot of the bugs just left. The went to, I don't know, somewhere air conditioned. And so, they're just not around. A lot of the bugs go dormant during the hot part of the day. The best time to find bugs in the summer time is going to be in the early morning and late evening. A lot of them come out to hunt or to feed, It's cooler, so they're a little more active. So if you really want to do some bug shooting, you should try getting up very early in the morning. Some bugs, particularly in the spring and fall, will really slow down in the colder parts of the day. Bees, especially, you have an easier time shooting.

If you get out when it's still cool. of course the other problem with bugs is they move all the time. Just when you get your shot ready, they take off and leave. There's no trick to that. You've got to learn to work quickly and you've got to have a whole lot of patience. The other problem is simply finding them, particularly if you're interested in spiders. There are, spiders will hide under bits of grass and things like that. You've really, it's like hunting mushrooms. You've just got to really stay focused on the ground and wait. Til you see something. Very often you might see a spider but it's not actually in a good configuration for shooting. It's underneath something, things like that.

Lay down on the ground. Line up your shot and wait. You may be laying there for 15 minutes before it actually moves into some position where you can get a good shot of it. If you've been doing that and going. Wow, this is tedious and boring and really difficult, there's got to be a better way. If you want to shoot a bug in it's natural environment, that's just what you gotta do, you're not doing anything wrong. You might also give up on the idea of going out to shoot a very particular kind of insect. it might be that you've gotta just shoot what you can find. As I'm walking around here, in fact even just as I.

I move grass around, grasshoppers are taking off in all directions. And the grasshoppers seem to be a little bit slower moving than some of the other things that are out here. So I switched to shooting grasshoppers. I really wanted to find some cool spiders because this place is filthy with all sorts of different spiders. But Grasshoppers were all I could find while I was out so I've been changing my focus to those. Oh, here's a butterfly. Butterflies are also going to be moving much slower in the morning as they try to dry out their wings and things like that. So if you are curious about macro bug shooting, but you've never tried it and you don't have a macro lens.

First get yourself a lens reversal ring, it's only 10 or 15 bucks. You'll need to find the right one for your lens, that's all explained my lens reversal class. But then be ready. It's going to be a lot of time. You're going to have to go out and spend a lot of time laying in the mud, just looking around. You're going to be frustrated by bugs flying off just before you take your shot. Remember, you can't focus when you're working with lens reversal. You're moving in and out, so it can take a while to. Get the shot lined up, the bug's probably not going to cooperate. If you're having that frustration, you're not doing anything wrong. It just takes a lot of time and patience to get those really cool macro insect shots.

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