Learning to shoot macros

Yesterday I went to my local patch. The sun was warm and the breeze light. Generally good conditions for photography. The contrasts were not too strong and I was hoping for anything really, birds, bugs or flowers.

Birds were thin on the ground. A lady told me she had seen Verditer flycatcher and a group of men were photographing Scarlet-backed flowerpecker. I managed one very poor shot of Pallas’ Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus and some decent shots of the resident Long-tailed shrike, Lanius schach. There were some butterflies active including a nice perched Blue admiral, Kaniska canace.

Kaniska canace

I am disappointed that I missed full DoF on the wing tip, showing just how razor thin this must be even at F5.6. I had plenty of light but thought the ‘parallel shot’ would be fine at this aperture.

Most of my time however was taken up trying to get decent shots of lichens and mosses in the shaded areas. Here I failed miserably. Even using Live View I was not satisfied with the sharpness and I suspect the long shutter speeds meant the slap of the mirror caused enough vibration to lose that edge. I tried mirror lock-up but then you can’t see the image and I find this slightly error prone.

Here are some of the better efforts:

Orange lichen on bark

Grey-green lichen

Beware the white spot, Cap'n

And then a couple that did work in my opinion, already posted on Flickr:

Blow and make a wish

Three wheels on my wagon and I'm still rollin' along

And to close, the shrike……

Long-tailed shrike.

I am slowly learning the tricks and skills of macro / low light photography but a long way to go. A solid tripod is probably the most important requirement.

Feedback always appreciated either on the specific post or the blog content generally.

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7 thoughts on “Learning to shoot macros

  1. Hi Andrew, I see you have been consumed by your love of nature in the last several posts:) My favourite is ‘three wheels on my wagon…’ with the centre one in focus and the ones on the side out of focus.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Tripod time for the lichens – do you have the Urban Council book on HK’s lichens? I can loan it if necessary…
    See if you can find lithosiini larvae on the lichens next time!! (good hunting!)

    • Hi Roger, all these were taken off a tripod. I know the book but dont have it. Is it still in print? Does Kadoorie stock it? Always on the look out for larvae!

  3. Andrew. I don’t understand the problem with the mirror slap. If you are in Live View, the mirror is up and does not slap. Are you leaving Live View before exposing? If so, that is not necessary. I shoot in Live View pretty much exclusively and never have a mirror slap issue.

    • Steve,

      this is interesting and I learned yesterday that the mirror remains up during LV when I was doing more research. I do not deactivate LV so if there is a lack of sharpness and it is not the mirror then the only reasons I can think of are:

      my eyesight is too poor to focus although I am using the x5 zoom to focus – I always focus manually in LV.
      the tripod is not stable enough but I am using the 2s shutter timer release and it seems stable
      I may move the focus fractionally when checking the DoF preview

      I will post or send a shot that I was disappointed with and see what you think.

      Your comment was timely and helpful. Thank you.

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