Macro Shooting Tips by liewwk


liewwk

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Sep 2, 2009
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www.flickr.com
Editor: We are delighted to bring you a series of articles written by Mr. Liew WK (nick liewwk on CS) on how to shoot macros. We would like to sincerely thanks Mr. Liew for his kind permission to allow us to reproduce his articles here.

ABOUT liewwk (Liew Weng Keong)



Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mr. Liew is a photographer who is passionate about nature, which includes flora, fauna, insects, birds, natural landscape and anything related to nature.

Mr. Liew conducts regular macro photography workshops. Please see here for more information.

You may contact Mr. Liew via PM, or email him directly at liewwk76@gmail.com

Table of Content

How I shoot MACRO?
How I shoot MACRO? - Angle makes a different ...
MACRO PP1: How I Increase my MACRO picture DOF (Stack Focus)
MACRO PP2: How I control Background
 

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ziploc

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How I shoot MACRO?
by liewwk

(Editor: This article is reproduced from Mr. Liew WK's blog with his kind permission. Some paragraphs are edited to improve clarity. You may find his original articles here.)

I am trying to share how I shoot macro and this may not be the best setting or skill but just hope it can help whoever want to start MACRO photography to have a some idea what/how to start .....

  1. Manual Focus
    • due to the shallow DOF, it is not easy to get the AF work correctly at what you going to focus especially at >1 times life size
    • so I will fix my magnification, then move myself backward & frontward to get object focus instead of turning the focus ring (do not do this) ... (i used to do this and this make you even tough to get object focus)
  2. Aperture
    • refer to how is Aperture affect MACRO Here
    • so minimum F-number I use will be according to the magnification
    • below are the recommended aperture range and F-number I use:
      <1:1 F/4 - F/11 ---> F/8
      1:1 F/8 - F/16 ---> F/11
      2:1 F/8 - F/13 ---> F/10
      3:1 F/8 - F/13 ---> F/9
      4:1 F/5.6 - F/11 ---> /F8
      5:1 F/5.6 - F/8 ---> F/7.1
    • you may ask:
      • why I reduce the aperture/F-number and this eventually reduce my DOF - yes, it will reduce DOF but i have to maintain the sharpness which impact by Diffraction (higher F-number use will make picture softer)
      • why my pictures DOF look great and ~same with 1-4 :1 even smaller aperture/F number use - I focus stack my pictures so DOF in my picture is result of multiple shooting with stacking. what is focus stack ? please refer here
  3. Shutter Speed
    • for start I will prefer to have minimum 1/125 or above
    • what I use --> 1/200
  4. ISO
    • for a start, this is the only parameter you can change to get correct exposure if at F/8 & 1/125 and you still get underexposed picture
    • recommended ISO 100-400 only
    • what I use --> ISO100
  5. Flash, Yes or No???
    • this is very subjective question where it depends on the bugs that you shoot, IQ you need, environment that you shoot ......
    • normally while shooting Natural Light (NL) without flash, I will use Aperture priority mode, F/8, and then adjust ISO to get correct aperture
    • what I use --> flash (ettl)
    • if flash is used, the flash has to be diffused.
  6. Diffuser
    • this is most important portion (for me)
    • if you don't diffuse correctly, object details will be loss even if you get it in focus
    • what I use ---> styrofoam paper sheet

As last, I would like to thank all people that read this article and hope I can help you to have fun to start shooting MACRO ........
 

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ziploc

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How I shoot MACRO? - Angle makes a different ...
by liewwk

(Editor: This article is reproduced from Mr. Liew WK's blog with his kind permission. Some paragraphs are edited to improve clarity. You may find his original articles here.)

I want to try this long ago but as we have been fix mind (some rule of photography, e.g. rule of thirds ... too center ... etc) so we stop exploring ourselves. See example shared below.

Most of the ppl will shoot dragonflies as angle illustrated below, just like book record purpose or make "wow factor" of the macro ...

Some boring shots from me ...








But I tried few different angle which make different feel. e.g.

  1. like floating on air


  2. shooting from top will show details on it's body
 

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ziploc

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MACRO PP1: How I Increase my MACRO picture DOF (Stack Focus)
by liewwk

(Editor: This article is reproduced from Mr. Liew WK's blog with his kind permission. Some paragraphs are edited to improve clarity. You may find his original articles here.)

I am sharing this as this is what I do to get my macro picture to have better DOF... hope you all will enjoy this....

To have picture stack, we should
  1. get several focus pictures of major parts of the subject in interest. How I get this:
    • accurate focus skill, practice more until you can focus any part of the object. e.g. just focus the bug eye, nose, ears .....
    • faster flash speed - sometimes I will recommend to use manual flash to get faster recycle time, e.g. 1/8-1/4 so I can shoot multiple picture continuously without worrying too much about my flash
    • shoot with standard angle, e.g. side view, face direct ...so even the bug move, we still can chase the bug to shoot the same angle to stack (some time I even shoot different bug but same angle to stack). But for sure, we need similar magnification to have success stack
  2. PP software to do this
    • CS3 masking method (which I will discuss here)
    • combineZM, which I feel it is quick easy to use but I have yet start to use it
  3. PP Process
    • open multiple picture and make sure it have similar exposure and white balance e.g.


    • use the one with best composition as base and duplicate other pictures on the main picture
    • duplicate other picture on to the main picture as select from ii
(continue in next post)
 

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ziploc

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(continued)

  • choose the opacity on right hand side to ~75%
  • move the transparent picture to match the main picture, if the angle not correct. You may use transform > rotate to match it back
  • after match it, please hide the picture as below
  • use the brush tool to erase the part you wish to have from the picture as show below
  • continue with other pictures and repeat iii-vii

Happy trying :D ... feel free to let me know if you feel my instructions are not clear enough and I will try my best to update with more details
 

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ziploc

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MACRO PP2: How I control Background
by liewwk

(Editor: This article is reproduced from Mr. Liew WK's blog with his kind permission. Some paragraphs are edited to improve clarity. You may find his original articles here.)

I know this is not easy as I'd experienced it myself but i am sharing some easy ways to achieve background (either black or color) ...

Based on some voting from my flickr contact from sample Green or Black, there are people who like black background and also some prefer natural green ... to make it short, there are a few type of backgrounds which we can achieve easily

  1. black background

    This is most easy to achieve using flash... make sure with the angle of shooting, the object background (40mm or more apart) do not have anything, then use flash, low ISO, big F-number/small aperture (e.g. F/11, F/16) then the background will be black as below



  2. natural color background

    i. do not use flash and choose flat/clean background - but this going to need good lighting, tripod or both to get really sharp/focus picture

    e.g.


    ii. fake or human made BG (which I normally do)
    • hand hold or make a BG with leaf (dry or fresh) just 20-30mm alway from the object (depend on magnification)
    • move your object to nearby BG (20-40mm alway depend magnification) ... choose whatever BG you wish to have
    e.g


    iii. the settings to get the BG color
    normally when we have settings or combined settings below, the BG color will be brought out, but be careful of selecting the BG, because if a non clean BG is choosen, it may cause distractive BG instead of a good BG
    • high ISO normally 400-800 will give you good result
    • lower F-number/big aperture (f/2.8-7.1) but this will create DOF concern (DOF will become shallow)
    • lower Shutter speed 1/8-1/30"
    • this is very much depend on BG distance too... if it is really far (>300mm) ... use other method

      e.g (same object no fake BG make, flash use)

      # Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 1/40 second = 0.025 second
      # Lens F-Number/F-Stop = 71/10 = F/7.1
      # Exposure Program = manual control (1)
      # ISO Speed Ratings = 400



      ########################

      # Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 1/200 second = 0.005 second
      # Lens F-Number/F-Stop = 11/1 = F/11
      # Exposure Program = manual control (1)
      # ISO Speed Ratings = 100



enjoy ..................
 

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