Lesson from the Shot: Macro Photography -The Magic of Nuance by Stanley Leary

by Stanley Leary


Leaf - Figure 1Ants - Figure 2

Artists look at life differently than non-artists. We notice detail. We appreciate the nuance and beauty. Artists respond differently to the world than non-artists. We tend to be more sensitive.
Nothing can sharpen ones understanding about the nuances of photography more than macro (or close-up) photography. The image projected on the “film plane” (i.e., film or a digital sensor) is close to the same size as the subject. We would say the image is a 1:1 ratio.

Multiple Ways to Get There

There are a few ways to get close to the subject with a camera. One can buy a macro lens, which gives you 1:1 or even closer. One can buy a set of close-up filters that screw onto the front of the lens that allow closer viewing.
Extension Tubes go between the lens and camera, allow one to focus even closer. Yet another tool is a bellows that acts like a zooming extension tube.
The last way to get closer is using a tele-converter. These tele-converters increase the magnification of the lens and come in 1.4x or 2x powers of magnification. They couple between the lens and the camera to work.

Other Things to Consider

Once the method of macro photography is chosen, one will discover the closer one gets to the subject, the less depth-of-field in the image. This is to say the amount of area that is sharp in front of the point one chooses to focus, to the space behind that point is quite shallow. Photographers typically will use an ƒ/number of ƒ/11, ƒ/16 or even greater for just the subject to look like it is in focus.
Since you will be working with such a small aperture (ƒ/number), one will need a lot of light or a good tripod to keep the camera from moving while taking the photo.
Today’s flashes are so advanced, exposure calculations are made by the strobe itself. Before the new wave of sophisticated strobes, one had to be a physicist to understand all the math to make a good exposure. Most flash with TTL features will give you the perfect amount of light to make the proper exposure.
I recommend buying ab extension cord, which lets you take the flash off the camera for positioning the light — close to the front of the lens.
Once you have all the equipment, unleash the artist within by discovering the nuances of Macro photography.