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Welcome to Zoom-Foto

You've no doubt landed here as part of a journey. It starts with the quest for knowledge or inspiration and ends generally with a few choice words with our good friend Google. Words like "camera" and "lighting", combined with "how'd they do that ..." and "how can I do that ..." will land you here. Take heart my friends. I can show you "how'd they do that" - and how you can too.

And this is where our paths cross and we begin our journey together. I have trod the path of 'avid photographer' for years. I have searched for hours for 'how to photograph water drops' and marveled at the perfection of other people's beautifully poised single sparkling drop. I have stood for far too long in the cold to capture that one moment of swirling snow when the air appears to sparkle. And I confess with guilt that beautiful wild horses in the Icelandic hills just had to be photographed at the expense of my very patient traveling companions.

We have all been there - somewhere where the distractions of life are left behind and we exist in the moment. Camera in hand, subject just there. And nothing else. Call me obsessed, call me a little crazy, and you might have captured my dedication to documenting that moment.
If you get this - if you've been there - then join me as I follow the path of avid photographer. Let's learn a lot of photo tech, share our inspiration and produce fantastic shots!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Macro Images - Still Life


So you'd like to be a photographer, and you'd like to be a geek, but your real dream is to be a bit of both.  Here's a great project I recently undertook.  It gave me the opportunity to hone my photo-geek skills and forced me to develop makeshift solutions to resolve some tricky setup issues.

Canon EOS Rebel T1i
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens
Laptop with: EOS Remote Shooting Utility, Photoshop CS5
Not cool gear:
  • CD's and CD cases to manage distance from lens - a sad workaround for my as yet non-existent cool and very expensive focusing rail.
  • Incandescent point lights - yet another sad workaround as I was not yet lucky enough to own an external flash at the time of this project.
  • Mister - No dew was falling in my kitchen during my photoshoot, and I had to cheat.  I've heard that glycerin creates rounder drops although I have yet to try this.

Snap that photo
  1. Set your lens pointing down similar to a microscope.  I found this by far the easiest for composition and focusing for still life.
  2. Set your macro lens to the desired magnification before focusing as this is the easiest way to achieve your intended composition.
  3. Now apply that highly technical technique of focusing your subject by adding CDs or CD cases below to adjust distance to lens.  (Wouldn't a focusing rail do a beautiful job of that if I had one!)
  4. Adjust depth of field - the tiniest adjustment affected whether a dewdrops surface was in focus vs the reflection inside the dewdrop.
  5. Adjust lighting - shadows are magnified just like subject detail
  6. Snap your shot via EOS Utility installed on your laptop.  This is easier by far than viewing through the camera eyepiece or LED, and the remote shutter release avoids camera shake. 
  7. Use your favorite editing software to lighten highlights and reduce shadow if your lighting system was not sufficient.

Comments and gripes
Well, you know my gripe by now.  I'm in the market for a 4 way focusing rail - or any setup that does not involve CD's and CD cases.  But hey, I got some good shots with some not cool gear - see above for the end result.

I also have to gripe about the lack of macro subjects here in the winter.  Finding a bug to photograph is a real challenge, and flowers must be acquired at the local florist instead of the garden.  Bring on the summer!

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