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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
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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