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Shooting macro

From: Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

Video: Shooting macro

So I've switched to my Canon 100-millimeter f/2.8 macro. I really like this lens. It works as a normal 100-millimeter lens. So if you've got a zoom lens that has a 100-millimeter focal length, you know what kind of field of view you're going to get with this lens. So I can be out shooting. I can shoot landscapes with this lens because it's got a nice reach, and so on and so forth. What makes it a macro is its minimum focusing distance. Watch what happens here. I'm going to fill the frame with this flower, something I couldn't do earlier.

Shooting macro

So I've switched to my Canon 100-millimeter f/2.8 macro. I really like this lens. It works as a normal 100-millimeter lens. So if you've got a zoom lens that has a 100-millimeter focal length, you know what kind of field of view you're going to get with this lens. So I can be out shooting. I can shoot landscapes with this lens because it's got a nice reach, and so on and so forth. What makes it a macro is its minimum focusing distance. Watch what happens here. I'm going to fill the frame with this flower, something I couldn't do earlier.

I'm doing that from back here and I've got the image in focus. Shoot that like this. So this is a nice shot. I was not able to fill the frame with the flower with my 24-105 earlier. But watch this. I'm going to come in here now, and I think I can get even a little bit closer. I'm getting much closer than I could before. This lens has a very tiny, tiny minimum focusing distance. And so that lets me get in like this.

Now, as you can see, just as with the other lens, I have got an extreme depth-of-field problem here. I'm shooting at 3.5 on these shots. I would like to get down to a smaller aperture because I want to get in that close, but I want to have more things in focus. So I'm going to go to a smaller aperture. That's going to really slow down my shutter speed so I'm bringing in this tripod that just happened to be sitting over there. This is a Velbon EL Carmagne 540 tripod with an Acratech Ultimate ballhead. I really like this tripod. It's very lightweight and because of my sling strap here, it's really easy to get the camera off and get it right on the tripod.

So I'm going to just try and frame up that same shot, or roughly that same shot that I had before, and get myself some focus. Now, one thing about macro shooting is most of the time, you'll ballpark your focus and then you will refine it by moving the camera forward and backward. And this is the tricky part about macro shooting. That's why you usually want a tripod or a monopod is that tiny little motions are going to throw your focus way in and out, and so focusing macro more often becomes about camera movement as it is about working with the lens focus ring.

So that looks pretty good. I'm going to lock this down here. I'll set my aperture to f/11, which drops my shutter speed to a 20th of a second. This is why I'm going with a tripod here. I'm going to take that shot. I'm skeptical that it's going to be sharp though, because the flower's moving around a little bit, so I'm going to bump my ISO up a couple of stops to try and get me a little more motion-stopping power, and I end up right here. Of course I'm changing depth of field a lot. One thing to know about a lens like this: this lens in particular, the Canon 100-millimeter macro, has a pretty profound change in focal length as you focus in and out.

The focal length, the field of view actually changes as if you were zooming. Some macro lenses have that more than others. It's something to be careful with here. Now, that last image that I shot has a lot of focus in it, a lot of depth of field, and I still don't quite have full depth of field. If I really wanted full depth of field, I would have to try going to a smaller aperture, which might soften my image overall because of diffraction artifacts, or I would have to go to a more complex shooting technique involving a focus rail and special software and a bunch of stuff like that, which we're not going to cover in this chapter.

As I said earlier, we'll have a full macro course for that. Take a look at this. Some other features about this macro lens. First of all, it's stabilized. I have Canon's image stabilization built into this lens. This is about three to four stops of stabilization. This is great for the types of problems that I have with macro shooting. When I'm in real close, even a tiny movement of the camera results in a big change in composition and possibly introduces motion blur, so it's really nice having stabilization on your lens. I've got, of course, my auto and manual focus switch, and then I've got this thing up here, which has a bunch of distance markings.

The thing about this lens, because it's a macro lens, it can focus way out of a distance. It can focus in very close, as you saw. It's got this huge range of focus possibilities, and I can tell the autofocus mechanism which part of that range I want to work with. Right now, it's set to full, which means that autofocus will seek through the full entire range of focusing possibilities that the lens has. I can drop it down to infinity, down to half a meter, which means it's not going to go in super close in its searching, or if I'm working really up close, I can constrain it to just 0.3 to half a meter.

The idea here is that I'll be able to work quicker. If I'm focused in real close, I don't want the camera searching out to infinity to see if something is in focus. I didn't even want it searching out to a meter to see if something is in focus. So the ability to constrain focus to particular ranges makes my autofocus work much faster. In general, I think you'll find that you're going to work with manual focus and simply moving the camera in and out. So the issues that I'm dealing with, that I'm wrestling with, are depth of field and shutter speed often gets played into there because as I'm trying to get deeper depth of field, my shutter speed is dropping so then ISO is going up.

It's all the usual ballet of balancing those three parameters that you have to do to get any type of good shot. But they're really going to come into play with macro shooting. What a macro lens gets you is that minimum focusing distance that lets you get in real tight and frame shots much closer than you can with a normal lens.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

50 video lessons · 17913 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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