Understanding depth and composition | Macro Photography | lynda.com



one of the things that I like about macro flower shooting is that it can feel like landscape photography when you get in real close you'll find yourself gazing across vistas of petals and fields of weird textures and strange formations and things the problem is because of the super shallow depth of field that's inherent in macro you won't necessarily be able to see all of those things at the same time in your viewfinder this can make composition tricky because you can't actually see all of the elements that you have available to compose with now you can try studying the flower with the naked eye to determine what might look interesting but the fact is a lot of this stuff is just so small that you really can't see what might be interesting or not until you get it magnified now this is true of all macro subjects not just flowers anything can end up being far more interesting and landscaping once you get in close so when trying to build a macro composition you often have to do some exploring through focus and camera or subject position changes as you try to find the things on the subject that are interesting here's what I mean I've got this new flower up from what we were working with before as you can see it's got a lot more depth in it it's going to inherently be a huge depth of field problem but I've framed up a shot here I'm still at ISO 1600 because it's pretty dark in here and I'm in so close with my extension tubes and my extension tubes are cutting a little bit of light out fortunately my meter is compensating for it so I'm to do any thinking or anything like that I'm in at four here just because it's kind of a mid-range aperture here I'll go on up to five six and I'm just seeing what I can see okay now that's a lot cooler than it looks like in real life I can see all of that pollen that's on there I like the shapes and the way that they're interacting I didn't really notice that so much just by looking at the naked eye but watch what happens as I refocus I'm going to now focus way out here onto the background just I'm going to try to and take this shot ah-ha lookee back there there's all of those dots on the petals I like those purple lines but the stamens up front have blurred out completely I can't see both at the same time this is what I was talking about earlier you've got to remember that what you see in the view file is the shallowest depth of field possible so what I need to do is start trying to look around the flower and just assess what I have to work with compositionally I want you to take a look at one other thing before we start doing that here's the first image that I shot and here's the second image that I shot back in that first image in the upper right hand corner you can see a tiny bit of green that's a space between two of the petals as I show you the second shot now look at that tiny bit of green it's much larger when we are at macro distances even a slight change in focus is actually an effective change in focal length and that changes our field of view this is actually a much wider angle shot than our first shot so this is something else that I'm trying to balance sometimes getting the focus that I want won't actually give me the field of view that I want because focus changes so dramatically change my field of view when I'm at macro distances so I want to see what else is in this flower and what I'm going to do now is just turn on video recording on the camera so that you can see what I'm seeing in my viewfinder and that's going to let you see just what it is I'm doing here I'm just going to pan around and see what else might be cool in the shot maybe I'll do a little refocusing here look down there down all that stuff that could be really cool looking maybe I really like those black dots that's kind of cool oh oh this is interesting the interaction of how the petals overlap that could be interesting if it was plate up some more really playing the graphical elements of those lines and as I change focus again yes see some of that stuff could be interesting what I don't really know yet is can I get how much can I have in focus from all these different things and the only reason the only way I can do that is to do what we already did is it just start dialing down my aperture or taking different kinds of shots oh I like this too the the pedals there in the background that's kind of cool so here I am just exploring the flower if you don't have the cool geared head there's another thing you can do which is actually just move the flower around one thing that's nice about moving the flowers you can easily focus on different areas by moving it forward and backward oh look at that now that's interesting all of those shapes together look like a claw of some kind but when I get to that distance that I can see that whole kind of claw thing I lose the background it goes completely out of focus now it's completely out of focus in my viewfinder I don't really know if it's in focus or not if I was to use a deeper depth of field so I'm going to dial up to f-16 real quick and just do kind of a quick ballpark composition here maybe something like that oh okay look at f-16 I actually can get those things in front and the things in back and you might be saying right now well no the whole thing's out of focus the whole thing's out of focus because I was jiggling the plant again I'm just kind of it's like I'm sketching I'm just roughing in a composition here so this is interesting I had been thinking that I couldn't play that front element against the back element but I can if I dial my depth of field so that is deeper this is the type of exploring that you often just have to do in this really manual kind of brute force way as you look for a composition macro photographers often speak of magic angles this is the angle that maximizes the depth of field that you have maybe you turn the camera or the subject in a way so that a particular plane comes into really deep focus these are the kinds of things you can only experiment with by looking in the viewfinder and moving your camera your subject doing test shots at different apertures to try to see how much depth of field you get and from all these different exercises you can start to try to piece together a composition you may not be able to see your finished composition in the viewfinder you may just have to go I think this is going to play against that I can balance this against that and I can have enough deep depth of field to bring in the background and then you take the shot and see what I'm thinking about right now as we move in is I do like this cloth sort of thing that's going on and the only way that I'm getting this composition is if you look right now I'm holding the thing right here I'm not going to be able to get a sharp shot holding it because I'm jostling it around I need to be able to change the position of my subject here and to do that I'm going to need to employ some more gear and you know how I love more gear so we're gonna look at that in the next movie a membership to linda.com unlocks this entire course and hundreds of others visit linda.com to learn more

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