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It's a small world, and capturing it with a photograph can be challenging. In this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long takes you on a fantastic voyage into the realm of the tiny, detailing the gear and shooting techniques necessary to capture extreme close-ups of everything from products to posies.
After touring the possibilities of macro photography, the course details essential gear at several price levels, including lenses, flashes, and other accessories. Next, Ben explores the special challenges of macro photography: dealing with moving subjects, working with extremely shallow depth of field, focusing, lighting, and more.
The course also explores advanced close-up tools and post-processing techniques, such as using Adobe Photoshop to "stack" multiple shots to yield wider depth of field than a single shot can convey.
We've been talking about close-up photos. And, a lot of times, the word macro is used as a generic term to describe any close- up image, or any picture of something small. But, there is an actual technical definition of a macro image. A true macro photo is one where the image on the camera's sensor is the same size as the actual object you're shooting. In other words, there is a one-to-one ratio in the size of the object to the size of the image of the object on the sensor. Now, this doesn't mean that the image is always actual-size photography, because you can print the image at bigger-than-actual size, but the captured image on the sensor is actual size.
If you magnify the image beyond its actual size, then it's still a macro photo. We refer to capturing an image at actual size as 1x, at double size as 2x, and so on. But, everything from 1x on is considered macro. So, you might group both of these images together as macro shots. But technically, this is a macro photo, and this isn't, simply because this second one is not actually at 1x on the sensor; it's a little smaller than actual size. Now, unless you're engaging in some kind of documentation process that demands actual size imagery, for the sake of scientific accuracy, these technical distinctions really aren't going to matter.
In everyday shooting, you are not going to say, "Uh-oh! This isn't actual size. I'd better make an adjustment." Instead, you're just going to build the composition you want. That composition may be impacted by technical concerns, but whether you're actually shooting at a one-to-one size ratio probably won't be among those concerns. I've defined these terms partly so that you won't embarrass yourself at photographic cocktail parties, but mostly because once we start talking about macro lenses, these terms are going to come up. So, you need to understand this nomenclature as we go deeper into discussing how to choose a macro lens.
But, we're not going to go all the way to macro lenses yet. If you watched the last chapter, you saw how you can use extension tubes or close-up lenses to take your regular lens, and give it some close-up power. In this chapter, we're going to look at another trick for getting closer in, but this time, we're actually going to end up in the true macro range. The idea with this chapter, and the last, is that they will give you the chance to explore some close-up and macro shooting without having to invest in an expensive new lens. So, if you get to the end of this chapter, and you're finding that you are really liking this macro shooting stuff, then you'll be ready to consider a macro lens. And, we'll talk about that in the next chapter.
So, in a macro photo, your subject is actual size on the image sensor. As you'll see in the rest of this course, working at that scale introduces a lot of concerns and issues that you have to deal with very carefully. Now, most of these are exaggerated versions of issues you face in normal shooting, but they can be tricky to deal with. No matter what your subject matter, macro shooting breaks down into two large categories: studio shooting and field shooting. We're going to begin with studio shooting. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to have a studio; it just means we're going to be working indoors.
It's great, though, because you can say to your friends, "Oh! I am working in the studio today," when really, you'll just be at the kitchen table. Even if what you're interested in is shooting bugs, or flowers, or something, I really recommend starting your macro education indoors. If you're just starting out with macro, and the first thing you do is run outside, and try to shoot some bugs in the garden, you're going to be making things very hard on yourself, because, in addition to all of the macro things that you need to learn, you're also going to be facing the problems of the moving subject, and wind, and laying in the mud, and trying to get access to the right angle, and so on.
In the studio -- and you have to say it that way, -- in the studio, you eliminate these issues, and you have complete control over lighting. That makes it much easier to learn the basics down to a really deep level. Later, when you have those basics learned to a point where you don't have to think about them so much, you can take them outside, not have to think about them, and start practicing the techniques that you need for field shooting. So, for the time being, we are going to be working in our studio. Though later, we will be going outside. In this chapter, we are going to take actual macro shots.
And to do that, we're going to modify the lens that you already have. Now, all you need to do this is a hacksaw and some epoxy. No, I am just kidding. It's a simple trick, and you'll see it in the next movie.
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