Tag Archives: focus

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes

What is it?

Macro photography gets you closer to things, it makes small things larger on your sensor or film, by doing this it opens up the world of photography to things that you would walk past or miss on a daily basis. Insects flowers and many more things look amazing when you get closer to them than the naked eye. Here is what a macro lens and extension tubes can do for your photography.

A dedicated Macro lens will allow you to take pictures of objects, closer to the front of the lens than your kit lens. This allows you to get closer to your subject making it up to 5x its actual size on the sensor. A lens like the Canon 65mm MP-E Macro is dedicated to taking macro images and will focus on very short distances from the lens.  But, that lens will only do that one thing, it does do it quite well though, but it is not as versatile as the Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro LIS this lens can be used to do portrait work as well as other things.

What if you wanted to learn about Macro photography but didn’t want to buy a macro lens just in case you tried it and really didn’t like it?

Extension tubes are your answer, they will convert almost any lens to do macro photography. A set set will cost you about $225 compared to the price of a dedicated macro lens that is great Value.

I have a set of Kenko extension tubes, they attach between your camera and lens, and move the lens forward. They come in a set of three, 12mm, 24mm, and 36mm and you can use one of them at a time or all three of them at the same time, they will allow you to focus closer to your subject using your existing lenses.

How do I use it on my camera?

I will be talking about how the ones I have work with my Canon camera and lenses. There may be some slight differences with other brands of cameras and extension tubes.

The set I have use a pass through system, there are contacts that allow the lens and camera to communicate with each other, so the camera will autofocus and set the aperture. You can buy units that do not pass through, they will require manual focusing and you cannot control the aperture, so you can only use the smallest number aperture that lens has, which will limit the depth of field in your photo, when shooting this close, you may need more depth, my advice is to buy the pass through models.

The focusing distance that a lens refers to is measured from the subject to the film or sensor it is being recorded on. A 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens that has a minimum focusing distance of 25cm, that means that your subject can be as close as 25cm from about the back of the camera.

As the tubes shorten the focusing distance on any lens they are fitted to, you do have to be careful of what you fit them to, as the focusing distance may be shorter than the lens, which would mean that the subject would never be able to be focused on. Wide angle lenses that focus close usually fall into this category, I have a Canon 16-35mm  F2.8mm lens that has a minimum focus distance of 24cm, if I put a 12mm extension tube on that lens it cannot focus.

What does it do to my pictures?

Here are some examples taken back to back on a 50mm F1.4 lens with the 12mm 24mm and 36mm tubes and a 100mm Dedicated 1 to 1 Macro Lens, I have also added the tubes to the Macro lens to show what it would do to that lens. All the images were taken on a 5D mark II with ambient light at my desk, hand held and I was focusing on the 1:2.8 marking on the lens, the aperture was set to F2 and I was shooting at 1/250th when using the 50mm and F2.8 at 1/125th when using the 100mm Macro.

Examples

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 12 mm tube: The photo on the left is the 50mm at standard focusing distance. The photo on the right is using the tube. Note the depth of field or out of focus in the background is starting to disappear very quickly.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 24mm tube: Note the out of focus is much more effective, and that the EF-S marking on the top of the lens is almost not readable.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 36mm tube: I now am so close that the EF-S marking is not in my picture. Note though that now the 60mm is starting to be out of focus. You can see the details in the gold ring and the rubber on the lens though quite nicely.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with all three tubes: Note that with all three on the camera, I had to increase the exposure. Note the .8 of the 2.8 is now almost out of focus. The depth of field at this distance would be less than a millimetre.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes 100mm Macro: The photo on the left is the 100mm at standard focusing distance. The photo on the right is what the Macro lens can do without the use of an extension tube. This lens also has image stabilisation which can be handy when you are getting close and the smallest of movements will blur your photo.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes I have added the 12mm tube to the 100mm dedicated macro lens to show that if you were to buy the tubes you can then still use them on your dedicated macro as well, and get even closer!

Try This

Here are some images that I have taken with a mixture of lenses with and without tubes. One of these images was taken with a dedicated macro lens. The first person to email me with the correct image and the image settings both aperture and shutter speed will win a set of extension tubes that suit their camera and a 2 hour photo walk around Roma Street Parklands showing how to use them.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes Picture 1

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 2

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 3

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 4

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 5

Email me with your choice and the camera settings for your chance to win the tubes. I will announce the winner once it has been won.

Tourist in your own town

When was the last time you went for a walk as a tourist in your own town, city or suburb? We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars every year to go somewhere foreign or exotic and take our camera out, blow off the dust and take pictures. BUT when was the last time you wandered around Brisbane City, Bulimba or Capalaba?

I can hear it already:  “But I am too busy”, “I don’t know what to photograph”, “I need inspiration to shoot”. So here it is!

Go for a 15 minute walk down your street. Take your camera, don’t take your phone (unless it is your camera). Don’t walk the dog, just walk. Slowly. Look UP, look down, look around you, and take in all that your street has to offer. I am sure that you will find something to photograph in the first 100 metres – a flower, an interesting tree, a spider web, a hood ornament, or even just the clouds!

Whatever it is, try to photograph it in three different ways, and change the style in each. Use a different aperture or a slow or fast shutter speed. Photograph it close up. I have added some examples below to show you what I mean, as I live in Bulimba. Here are my Bulimba photos.

tourist in your own town Star trails and Planes; Canon 5D II, 16mm, F6.7, 189 shots at 20 seconds per shot (About 63 minutes). I didn’t even leave the house for this one, taken from my bedroom balcony, this is the stars the moon and some planes coming into land. This post will tell you how I did it.

02 Tourist in your own TownCityCat at sunset; Canon 5D II, F6.7, 1/20th, ISO 800. Taken at the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal just as the CityCat was leaving. This used a panning technique.

03 Tourist in your own TownAll clear on final; Canon 7D, F4.5, 1/1500th, ISO 400. This macro shot was taken in my back garden. Less than five steps from my back door.

04 Tourist in your own TownBulimba Ferry Terminal; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/1500th, ISO 50. I dropped my wife to the terminal and noticed the sun on the terminal building. I took this shot as part of my 365 photo a day challenge.
05 Tourist in your own TownSunsets and CityCats; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/45th, ISO 50. I saw the rays as I was driving home and thought the Hawthorne ferry terminal would give me a nice vantage point.

07 Tourist in your own TownTo Bulimba; Canon 7D, F9.5, 30 seconds, ISO 400. I missed the ferry to Bulimba, and while I was waiting (without a tripod) I put my camera on the ground, propped it up with my wallet and took this long exposure.

08 Tourist in your own TownDodge; Canon 1000D, F2.8, 1/350th, ISO 400. This was parked just out front of the Jetty Bar at the end of Oxford Street in Bulimba. As it was an old car, I thought I would give it a black and white process.

A picture can be taken anywhere, so take your camera with you and you will be surprised what you find.

Try This

Have a go! If a 15 minute walk up the street is too far, check out your garden. Or take a ferry instead of driving so you can enjoy the scenery.

If you are planning a holiday, why not get your camera out now and get back into using it, or if you need a little push, we have our holiday memories photo walk, to help you learn more about holiday photography.

Panning: how and when to use it in photography

What is panning?

Panning is a photography skill that involves moving the camera left to right or up and down to follow your subject while they are moving. You can also slow the shutter speed down in order to blur the background as you take the picture.

This blog post will show you two of the ways it can be used. There will be a follow up post showing another two uses and some exercises on how to improve your panning skills.

Usually this skill is used in sports photography with very fast moving subjects but it has many more uses.

I feel that panning is a great skill to learn, as not everything you will photograph will stay still. Sometimes you are moving and the subject is stationary, so you need to pan with it. An example would be taking a picture from a fast moving train.

How do I use it on my camera?

There is not one setting that makes panning what it is. It is a mixture of movements and shutter speed that will get the result you want. Image stabilisation can be helpful but was not used in any of the examples below. This post walks through a few different examples of panning, showing the settings and how to get similar results.

What does it do to my pictures?
Blurring the background, while keeping the subject sharp

This is typically the look that people want from panning. Blurring the background and keeping the subject sharp draws attention to the subject and takes the focus away from the background. This could be useful where the background is distracting or muddled with colours.

01 Panning 1Canon 40D, ISO100 1/80th 135mm F7.1: By panning with the car I have been able to keep the car sharp while it was driving past me at about 120km/h. By using a large number F there is enough depth for the driver to be sharp as well.

02 Panning 2Canon 7D, ISO1600 1/60th 105mm F4: By panning at such a slow shutter speed I have removed the distracting crowd in the background of this shot, and the focus remains on the driver and his bike.

10 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO50 1/60th 70mm F14: The timing tower and the white building at Lakeside are quite an eyesore. By panning and blurring the background, the car (the subject of this photo) is more prominent.

Keeping the subject sharp while you are moving

An example of this is taking a picture from a moving train. Say you wanted to get a picture of a landscape while you were passing it from a moving train. You want a reasonable depth of field, using a large number aperture, this will of course slow the shutter speed down. By panning with your subject you will be able to get a sharper shot than trying to keep the camera still.

03 Panning  3Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/180th 50mm F6.7: This shot was taken from a moving train in Intelaken, Switzerland. I wanted a slow shutter speed so the waterfall wouldn’t look frozen, by panning I have allowed the shot not to blur.

Blurring the foreground to remove it from the picture

This is not usually seen in the everyday world of a photographer, but motorsport photographers have to deal with photographing through fences, crowds of people or many other objects to get the shot. Sometimes you can use a small number aperture to get the fence out of focus, but you can also do it by panning. By slowing the shutter speed down you can actually blur out the fence.

05 PanningCanon 7D, ISO100 1/80th 16mm F9: The blurry brown in the foreground is tall grass. As the sun was behind me, this was “the best angle” from which to capture this car. However the grass in the foreground was in the way. I couldn’t move the grass, so I had to use a slow shutter speed to blur it out of the photo.

06 PanningTop Left, Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/125th 70mm F8, Bottom Right, Canon 5D II, ISO100 1/125th 150mm F3.5: The fence in the top left picture is starting to disappear with some panning at 1/125th. By getting closer to the fence, using a longer length lens and a smaller aperture, the fence in the bottom right almost looks to have disappeared.

To Be Continued

Counting the true cost of a photo

The cost of a photo is not just the memory card it was taken on, nor is it just the cost of the model of camera and lens you are using. The true cost of a photo is more about the story behind the photo, the setup, the taking of it and the inevitable processing.

01 Cost Of Photo experienceBoat on Brienzsee, Ringgenberg; using a wide angle lens gives the mountain’s behind the boat some perspective.

If you were on a holiday, the cost of a picture could include the cost of the trip, added to the cost of the camera and so on. But what about your experience? By experience I am not meaning your holiday experience I am meaning the experience you have behind the camera – your abilities as a photographer.

02 Cost Of Photo experienceFlying Scotsman, Paris; the RAW processing of this image was made to look like it was taken in the same period that the car would have been new.

My experience is in motor sport photography, and my experience in that genre has made me aware of where incidents may happen or places that would make a great new angle. This allowed me to capture images that were different to the normal and would tell a different story, or show a facet of the sport that people had not seen before.

03 Cost Of Photo experiencePimlico Tube Station, London; by taking this photo at 1/8th of a second, the train moving out of the station has been accentuated. By using the right balance of ISO and shutter speed I was able to hand hold the camera for this shot.

Over the years I have tried other genres of photography and I have come to the conclusion that a photographer that is good at their genre usually is an expert in that genre too. A surf photographer will be able to pick waves that a board rider will take, and know which surfer to follow as they have the best wave.

A landscape photographer will know what time of the year the best cloud formations appear over their subject and the placing of the sun to maximise the lighting, as you can’t move the mountains but the sun does shift over summer / winter.

Likewise a macro photographer will know that a dragonfly will come back to a perch it has sat on if it flies away, as long as you’re patient enough.

04 Cost Of Photo experienceBoats for hire, Lake Como; by using a tripod and a long shutter speed I have made the headlights of the cars drag.

So this knowledge is part of what makes up the cost of a photo. The other part of the cost, is knowing which lens to choose, which aperture to use, what the shutter speed will do to the mood of the image and so on, as you have seen from the examples above there is more to the picture than just pushing the shutter button.

05 Cost Of Photo experienceFlower bokeh, Rothenburg; by using a very small number aperture I have made the different flowers behind this poppy blend into the photo.

06 Cost Of Photo experienceSpiral staircase, Arc de Triomphe; by using a fisheye lens, the spiral of the staircase has been exaggerated.

07 Cost Of Photo experienceDole Reflections, Dole, France; by using a HDR technique I have been able to capture all the detail in this scene.

This is what we are here to teach you! Our next Learning to crawl beginners class is on the 30th of August book now.

 

Top Travel Tips

Here’s our Top Travel Tips for Photographers:

1 Take your charger, even if it’s only a weekend away! Charge the battery every night to ensure your camera is ready when you need it. And remember, cold weather shortens the life of batteries.

2 Take lots of memory cards. They’re cheap, and why risk missing out on that once-in-lifetime shot because your memory card is full? Make sure you format them in the camera before you leave. If you are planning to take lots of pictures and are wondering whether to buy one big card or several smaller ones, we recommend buying many smaller ones. If you lose the one big card, or gets damaged/corrupted in some way, you will lose all your photos.

3 With this in mind, don’t be scared to take one extra photo. You may never come back! Also, don’t delete a picture off the back of your camera without first looking at it in on your computer. The camera’s screen is too small to have a thorough look at the image and you might miss something interesting in the background.

4 Backup the pictures! Keep the used cards separate from your camera (and secure) in case it gets lost or stolen.

5 Be aware of visiting places where taking pictures may not be condoned or may be against the law. As a rule of thumb, avoid photographing inside airports, at border crossings, where there are police or military officials etc. Respect signs that say “no photography”. Also, different countries have different laws about what is acceptable as far as photographing people – research this before you go!

6 If you don’t have a tripod, a bin/chair/or the ground can be a great makeshift tripod.  

7 If you are taking pictures at night, and the camera suggests using a tripod or you cannot get sharp photos because the shutter speed is too low, you can use your camera’s self-timer for a hands-free shot that minimises camera shake.

8 Use your shadow as a guide. It’s best to keep your back to the sun when taking pictures so if you look down and see your shadow you’re looking the right way. Of course this is not always possible.

9 Be creative and don’t forget to change your point of view. Don’t just arrive at a scene and take the first shot you see. Remember to think about WHAT you would like to highlight in the scene.

10 Keeping a shopping bag in your pocket or camera bag is a great way of protecting your camera if it rains.

11 Test your camera before you go away. Learn how to use it, and try not to buy it the week before you go away. If you’re flustered and have not read the new manual or are not familiar with the camera, you may not be getting the best out of it.

These tips will ensure that you capture some awesome memories of your trip. And on a final note, make sure you have the camera ready at all times – you never know what’s around the next corner.

Examples

Here are some photos from our travels. Head on over to our No Green Square Facebook page and post your best travel photos.

top travel tipsSunset over Mount Fuji from the Shinjuku Government Tower, Japan

top travel tipsSunrise over Ankgor Wat, Cambodia

top travel tipsJunks in Ha-Long Bay, Vietnam

top travel tipsLake Manchester on Fraser Island, Australia

Try This

While traveling, keep your camera handy and ready to take photos.  Try to get some shots that are a little different from the norm, using a different angle or perspective.

Aperture

What is it?

Aperture is a way of controlling how much light comes into your camera. It’s based on the size of the hole in your lens. By changing lenses you can improve the maximum aperture.Aperture Priority

How do I use it on my camera?

Depending on the camera make and model you have, by using the A or Av (Aperture Priority) mode on your camera dial or menu, you can select the F number that you want the photo to be taken at, the camera will set the shutter speed to maintain the correct exposure. You would use the main scroll or menu to change the F number.

Aperture Priority

What does it do to my pictures?

Simply, the smaller the F number you use the less will be in focus in  your pictures. This will make the object in focus stand out more.  However, there are times that you want lots of the picture in focus, like a landscape or a group of people. To get all of the picture in focus use a larger number.

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the flower is only thing in focus

Aperture PriorityLarge F number: the flower in the foreground and the flowers in the background are not separated. The flowers in the background are distracting.

Examples

Aperture PriorityF number 11: gives a lot of depth in this picture

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the water closest is in focus.

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the back ground is separated from the subject

Aperture PriorityLarger F number: more in focus, the foreground and background are both parts of the picture

Aperture PriorityUsing a larger F number: the subject and his surroundings are both part of the picture

Aperture PriorityF number 22: all of the above image is in focus

Try This

Get your camera, set it to Aperture Priority mode, start at the smallest number you can and then take a series of pictures of the same thing changing the  F number. Note how your pictures are changing. What else is changing when taking these pictures?

Have a read about Shutter Speed and ISO.