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