Macro-Land: On a Sunny Day

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You've got the basics of using your macro lens down; now let's take it outside! There are some unique challenges to shooting outside with a macro, and the next few tipsters will help with a variety of scenarios.

Even the smallest details can look huge!

It was a bright, sunny Tuesday, so I wandered out to Great Sand Bay to shoot some scenery and, especially, some rocks. With a macro, you can get right up on the rocks themselves with no problem, capturing those little bits of detail you only get holding them right up to your face.

The picture above is of a rock that’s actually less than an inch long. But lighting is tricky for setting your aperture, and focus can be a concern, so here are a few ideas for getting everything just right:

Sometimes the little waves decided the rocks needed to be covered while I was shooting.

1. Wear clothes where it doesn’t matter if you get wet/sandy/dirty. I wore everything synthetic, tight weaves, and while I got a little wet while doing this, the sand just brushed right off. That’s important, as I had to lay down flat to shoot the ground like this.

2. Don’t try to magnify the object completely with the lens; use your proximity as well. Unless there is some feature that is relatively flat, trying to get the lens to do all of the work on something so small means you have relatively little in focus. Rather, use your body to get it down there just right.

3. Especially when water is involved, be careful with your aperture settings. The light reflecting off of water like this will play havoc with any built-in lightmeter (again, I’m using a Canon AE-1 Program with a Vivitar 1:2.8 macro lens). I frequently had to choose between two, and simply took two shots, one at each. What I discovered was that, while the more open aperture had a brighter feel, the stuff out of focus would wash out if it was reflecting sunlight. Conversely, the smaller aperture didn’t give the feeling of a sunny day. So pick your angles carefully, and see which mood suits you best!

Same shot as the top photo, with a more open aperture and a bit more distance. More is in focus, but I’m not sure I like how much light I’m seeing here.

You can, of course, use your macro as a very minor zoom lens for the horizon as well; we’ll get into that in a future edition. For now, hit the shore and see what you find!

A wider shot of the type of rock fields I was sifting through.

Next time I’ll be back with advice on using your macro with the buds, blooms, and blossoms of spring!

Credits: kevinhodur

Words and photos by Kevin Hodur. Previously calling suburban Chicago and Portland home, Kevin now lives and works as a writer on Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Catch more tipsters in the Macro-Land series next time with Full-Spectrum Nature.

written by kevinhodur on 2013-05-21 in #gear #tipster

One Comment

  1. kevinhodur
    kevinhodur ·

    Incidentally, I had "That Sunny Day" by Soundpool running through my head this entire afternoon.

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