Macro Month – Day 9 – Feet

We all love our doggies, even more so when they are special like Nilo here, she is a rescue dog, but not from a rescue centre but from a rubbish bin, you know, one of those large container bins there is no chance she could jump or climb out of. We went to dump our rubbish one Sunday, I lifted up the lid and there she was, looking up at me with the most amazing eyes. We grabbed her and put her one the ground, expecting her to run off away from us, but she just cowered on the ground. I didn’t want another dog, after all, the week before we had just lost our beloved Chewie and I wasn’t ready to get emotionally envolved with another dog. But hubby said, lets take her. So here she is, in her favourite place, 4 months after rescue day, in the hammock chair. The photo of her in the chair was taken iwht a cell phone, the close up of the feet are the macro photos of the day.


Macro Month – Day 7 – The Hose Pipe

Busy day today, I had no time to actually go out and take a photo, so I am using one from last month, so not too old after all. The hose pipe, it was lying on the ground to the position was awkward, but with the help of the screen I took a few photos but in the end the vertical photo was my choice.

1/160 sec, ISO 160, f/2.8, 90mm

hose pipe
The hose pipe

Macro Month – Day 4 – Aloe Vera

A series of macro photos of our aloe vera from the garden, we were out walking in the neighbourhood a few months ago and found thrown on the road a couple of aloe vera plants which we picked up and took home and planted, they are thriving.

1/50 sec, ISO 160, f/13, 90 mm


Long / Slow Shutter Speed

Slow / long shutter speed.
First of all what is shutter speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open. Slow shutter speed is considered anything from 1/60th sec and lower, (lower means a smaller number), when using a slow shutter speed you should consider using a tripod to help reduce camera shake. But why would you want to use a slow shutter speed? Well there are several reasons, one of which is to create motion blur for example. I am sure you have seen those amazing photos of waterfalls where the water is all blurry and soft. To create this a slow shutter speed has been used.

One of the difficulties is achieving the correct amount of blur. For a given shutter speed, three subject traits determine how blurred they will appear:
-Speed. Subjects which are moving faster will appear more blurred. This one is perhaps the most obvious of the three, but just as important.
-Direction of Motion. Subjects which are moving towards or away from the camera usually won’t become as blurred as those moving side to side — even if both subjects are moving at the same speed.
-Magnification. A given subject will appear more blurred if they occupy a greater fraction of your image frame. This is perhaps the least obvious, but is also the one which is most under your control, since subject magnification is the combined effect of focal length and subject distance. Longer focal lengths (more zoom) result in more magnification for a given subject distance, but this also increases the likelihood of blur due to camera shake.
But even with these three subjects it can be difficult to get it right first time, so practice is the way to go.

In the above photo the round-a-bout is clearly in movement but the people watching on the right are standing still, as you can see from the two above photos one is after dark and the other during day light hours meaning you don´t have to wait until after dark to use a slow shutter speed. If you are shooting long shutter speed during the day you will need a filter on the lens, use a small aperture or both.
Below is a long shutter speed photo. Here we have Dave with a floating hat and bow tie. Taken for more than 30secs, I moved Dave to paint the bow tie with light, (using a flashlight) then put him back and did the hat; unfortunately the hat is a little higher than it should be or is it that Dave has shrunk, and then lit up Dave with the torch so the camera would also pick him up.

Below is another example of long shutter speed, this was taken at midday, with loads of light, but I used a small aperture, and a longish shutter speed and while the shutter was open I used the zoom. 1/3s, f32, ISO 100.

Technical tips:
Use a tripod, or something stable. When you are using a tripod or similar and you have Image stabilization on your camera or lens then TURN IT OFF. Why? The image stabilizer will attempt to find movement that is not there and take a blurry photo.
Use a remote control or if you don´t have one use the self-timer. Why? This is to avoid touching the camera as even if the camera is on a tripod the moment you touch it, it will create some small movement that will make a blurry photo, so if you use a remote your fingers doesn’t touch the camera and if you use the self-timer you allow the camera to settle before taking the photo.
ISO: when using a tripod or something stable you can use a low ISO, this will help with noise and also allow you to use longer shutter speeds.

To download this as a pdf for printing or sharing CLICK HERE

Depth of field / Aperture

Depth of Field / Aperture
Depth of field refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. It varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance.
On DSLR cameras and some more advanced point and shoot camera you can have full control over the aperture. While the shutter speed controls the duration of light hitting the sensor the aperture controls the amount of light hitting the sensor. The aperture is the part of a lens that dictates how much light is let through to the sensor – if it’s wide open, lots of light gets through. If it’s closed down, not much light gets through. In essence, it performs the same as the pupil of an eye. If you are in a dark room, the pupil is open; sunlight, the pupil is small.

Depth of Field always extends 1/3 in front of and 2/3s behind the point of focus. No matter whether the DOF is deep or shallow, it always follows this formula. This fact becomes more valuable when you do macro photography.

Depth of Field decreases as the distance between the subject and film plane decreases. You have VERY little DOF to work with when doing macro photography and are focused just a couple of centimeters away, but you have extreme DOF when focused at a point near infinity.

Different lenses can have different apertures – for example, a cheaper lens may only open to f4.0, not letting in as much light as a more expensive lens that will open to f1.6 or more.

The depth of field does not abruptly change from sharp to unsharp, but instead occurs as a gradual transition.

All lenses have a Hyperfocal Distance (hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all objects can be brought into an ?acceptable? focus) for a given f/stop. If, for example, the Hyperfocal Distance happens to be 16 feet for a particular lens/aperture combination, everything from one-half that distance (8 feet) to infinity appears to be in focus. If your lens has a DOF scale, line up the infinity symbol with the f/stop you are using and you have just set your lens to its Hyperfocal Distance for that f/stop.

Less in focus                                A little more in focus                Even more in focus

Depth of Field sounds like a good thing and usually it is—but not always. If you want to produce dramatic portraits you’ll want to limit.

Bokeh.  In Japanese is means ?fuzzy? and in photography it’s used to describe the parts of a photograph that are not in focus. Anyway, some lenses are optimized to produce attractive bokeh. It is acheavied by using a wide aperture.

There are also various ways of calculating DOF online.

Here you will find a variety of charts, downloads and online resources for DOF or hyperfocal distance.

Practice for DSLR users and bridge camera users (with manual options). Read on for those with point and shoots.

Practice: I would like you all to try this. Put your camera into Aperture mode.  This varies depending on the camera. Nikon is A and Canon is Av.

-Choose the largest aperture (the largest aperture is the smallest number).

The aperture will depend on the lens you use. Those you with DSLR will have a bunch of numbers on the lens. For example  AF-S NIKKOR 18-105 mm f3.5 –  5.6 G ED.  Note the numbers that are underlined. These are the limits of aperture or f stop on your lens. f3.5 is the max aperture at the widest zoom (in this case 18mm) and f5.6 is the max aperture on the long end of the zoom (in this case 105mm). Some lenses can go to f1.4 and usually the macro lenses are fixed f2.8 for example.

-Find a subject, could be a person, flower, see above picture. What you are going to take is a subject with plenty of background. It´s better if you can do this on a bright day or somewhere with plenty of light.

Take the photo with the different apertures. One with the widest, one with a middle aperture and one with the smallest aperture. Compare the differences on the computer screen.

You will see in the photo with the widest aperture the background will be blurred.

The middle aperture with be less blurred and the smallest aperture will have a sharper background.

When to use each aperture:

I am sure you have seen plenty of photos of people/portraits and the background is blurred. A wide aperture has been used.

A landscape will be an example of a small aperture. You have elements in the photo from close to far away and you want it all sharp. Here you need to use a small aperture.

You can use any lens that doesn´t have a fixed f/stop. You will get different results depending on the distance from your subject. I recommend you practice, go out there with your camera and play.

Point and Shoot users.

The cameras usually have presets. (sometimes called scene) These will help you learn the basics. Place the camera on the portrait preset, then take a photo of someone/ flower as described above. Then place the camera on landscape preset and take the same photo.

The portrait preset should give you a setting with wide aperture and the landscape with a small aperture, review the exif data (camera settings) in the camera or on the computer to compare as above.


A SMALL NUMBER IS A WIDE APERTURE. Normally used for portraits.

A LARGE NUMBER IS A SMALL APERTURE. Normally used for landscapes