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Photography QnA: Photographic Field Techniques

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques

Ready to learn about field technique for large object photography? How about for small object photography? This Q & A covers it all. Or if you are interested in private instruction, check out Kerry Drager's Field Techniques: Light and Composition online photography course.

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Photography Question 
Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  1 .  Capabilities of Macro lenses
I'm thinking of purchasing a 100mm macro lens. In addition to close-up photos, can a macro be used for any other types of shots?

Rob Warwick

8/16/2010 9:58:13 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Of course, although a regular lens of the same focal length may have better optics at longer focal distances. But then again, those differences may be measurable in a lab test situation but not readily apparent when you're looking at the actual photos.
I have a 50mm macro that I got because I like using that focal length for regular pictures and the added plus of macro.

8/16/2010 12:05:24 PM

  Hi Rob,
I love my macro lens. I shoot lots of flowers and also use it for portraits especially of children.
"Center" is the monthly theme category for the August contest. Check out my post on the Aug. entries to view what a macro lens can do. I have several flower centers posted on the first page.
The macro lens is a really a fun lens to own and use....

8/16/2010 12:07:55 PM

  Most macro lenses are the best lens and sharpest that the companies makes. A 100mm lens will do fine for any detail work. Remember unless you have the Canon ME 65 that the rest focus from 1:1 to infinity. I would not recommend a 100mm for portraits on a cropped camera though. It is a little too long. An isolated part of a building or 10 feet from a flower it would be wonderful.(providing you wanted the entire flower unless it is very big.LOL)

8/16/2010 10:37:35 PM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  As anyone can see I fell into the macro lens with my first digital camera.
Now using a Micro Nikkor 60mm 1:2.8 because it was what the guy in the camera store thought I should buy.
It works great on raindrops and bugs, also people.
But what is the next macro lens I "should" buy?
And how can a 100mm lens and a 50mm lens do the same thing?

8/17/2010 11:03:00 AM

  Fax,

The 100 has a narrower angle of view and lets you be six inches from that ugly spider and get a 1:1 photo instead of getting three inches away where you are more apt to scare it or worse get bit. How they do it is pure magic. :-)
(see my previous response)

IMO most responsible sales people recommend macro lenses in the 90mm to 105mm range for people new to macro. It helps them get the upclose shots without scarring the critters and is easier to learn macro photography. I found that I am not into macro per se but I want the 100mm macro for close work of small details but not for 1:1 macro photography.


Lynn


8/17/2010 11:48:26 AM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  Thank you Lynn,
That is very clear and explains why I've been scaring all the geckos and spiders (bees don't care) but it would be nice to be a bit further away!

8/17/2010 1:34:10 PM

  One thing I might mention with a macro lens if your shooting flowers is to shoot on a very still quiet day. Even a tiny wind tends to blow the flower petals around.

I almost always shoot with my mono pod
with no wind this tends to make the flowers more clear.

8/17/2010 1:51:46 PM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  ha ha Kerby,
Yes, I know to shoot in the stillness. But I live in Waikoloa -- translation -- place of wind devils! Not really, but people do call it Windyblowa.
I have always given myself the "job" of taking the flowers where they are blooming. But I bring them indoors now! Or rush outside during the calmer times.
I was just in your gallery! Lovely, stunning work.

8/17/2010 1:57:56 PM

  Thank you Fax I am glad you enjoyed the flowers and flower centers.

Taking the flowers in the house is a smart move if it windy. Even a tiny breeze can make a big difference in the images.

I like to go to the Botanical gardens when I travel and if it a little windy you find me in the inside gardens.

8/17/2010 7:11:04 PM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Thanks for the great discussions and info.

Rob

8/19/2010 8:07:43 AM

Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member
wildlifetrailphotography.com

member since: 3/2/2006
  I have used a Nikon 105mm micro lens for several years. It is known for it's sharpness. It is a great professional lens.

8/26/2010 7:06:01 PM

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Photography Question 
Vickie Oakley
BetterPhoto Member
vickieoakleyphotography.com

member since: 6/2/2007
  2 .  Pocket Wizard
I would like to purchase a Pocket Wizard, but do I purchase one or two? I want to trigger studio strobes that I used to trigger by infrared as well as use it with my Nikon SB 800 flashes.

5/12/2010 1:29:32 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  You purchase at least two, a transmitter and a receiver, for the regular Pocket Wizard. I think the Pocket Wizard maximum can be a transmitter and receiver, but I'm not sure, so you'll have to check. But anyway, you'll need one transmitter typically for your camera, and a receiver for each light or apparatus you want set off with the pocket wizard. If you have multiple lights, any of them can be triggered with a built-in slave, then one receiver can be all you need.

5/12/2010 3:07:19 PM

  Hi Vickie
The Wizard is a good device. It works at a longer distance than many other units. I use the cheap radio slaves made in China. I donít need much distance, so they work well for me. The last ones I purchased were about 45 dollars total for a transmitter and 4 receivers. Do a search for digital radio slave on eBay. These will work with your SB800 units, IF you plug the transmitter into the pc sync socket on your camera. There will be no automatic exposure function.
Thanks...

5/12/2010 4:04:44 PM

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Photography Question 
Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  3 .  Macro Photography
I'm thinking of buying a Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens for my Rebel. Two questions: Is this a quality lens; and, is a Canon Extension Tube EF25 II compatible?
Thanks for any help.
Rob

1/25/2010 12:12:23 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Yes, it's a quality lens, and Canon's extension tube is compatiple with it and the other EF lenses. Canon also makes a life-size converter for the 50mm macro. Something else to consider.

1/25/2010 12:42:36 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Yes, it is high quality lens, at least optically. It's build and autofocus mechanism are a bit dated, though. It only focuses close enough to produce 1/2 life-size image on the sensor. Yes, it is compatible with the Canon EF extension tubes EF 12 II and EF 25 II. There is also an accessory Life Size Converter EF for this lens that acts as combination extension tube and teleconverter that gives up to 1:1 life size.
If your "Rebel" is a digital Rebel, then the EF-S 60 f/2.8 USM Macro is preferred over the EF 50 f/2.5 Compact Macro in every way.

1/25/2010 12:44:48 PM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Gregory and Jon,

Thanks very much for your prompt replies.

Rob

1/25/2010 12:54:53 PM

  Beware! The Life Size converter costs almost as much as the lens. The lens without the converter is only 1:2, 1/2, life size. I feel you would be better off finding a non 'L' 100mm f2.8 macro for just a little more money. Of course, if you have the money, the 100 f2.8L II IS would be great! If starting in Macro, it is preferred to learn with a longer lens than 50-60mm.
Good ones are in the 90-105mm range. These give you a greater range so you don't spook the bugs or get stung by one.

1/25/2010 4:54:03 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Lynn is correct. A 50mm with a converter (or extension tube) will reach its closest focus point a few inches from the subject. This will work OK for flower close-ups but is not practical for bug photography.
Unless you catch them early in the morning (before they wake up), there are few insects who will sit still long enough for you to get that close.

1/26/2010 4:16:13 AM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Thank you all for the good advice and food for thought. Will post what I finally purchased.

1/29/2010 9:54:30 AM

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Photography Question 
Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  4 .  Macro Equipment
What is better: a macro lens or diopter close-up attachment? I would like to get into macro photography more.

12/21/2009 5:31:30 AM

Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer

member since: 1/7/2009
  I would choose a true macro lens over diopters. The diopters will work for you, but I don't feel they do as good a job. You could also look into close-up/extension rings to use with your existing lenses.

12/21/2009 2:39:24 PM

  I've shot flowers with my macro lens. The lens brings great details into what you shooting. I have a Sony Alpha 700 with a 2.8/100 Sony macro lens - my favorite lens.

12/21/2009 3:07:37 PM

  Hi Pam,
Macro lenses are specialized in their design and performance. While diopters like the Canon 500D and extension tubes help a normal lens with closer focusing ability, it is not the same as a true 1:1 macro lens.

12/21/2009 6:36:15 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  I agree with all of the previous comments. Diopter filters are much more limiting and the optical integrity of an otherwise great lens can be compromised.
Another option you may want to consider is a reversing ring. When mounted backwards, a standard non-macro lens can focus much closer.

12/22/2009 2:56:55 AM

  Pamela: Yeah, if you tried a true macro lens, you would be amazed at the superior quality you would get. The accessories do work, but a true 100mm (or similar) macro lens is a great investment for nature photography.
Sony makes a 100mm Macro lens ($679); Sigma also makes a 105mm macro that is fully Sony compatible ($479).

12/22/2009 9:36:21 AM

  I agree with Peter and the others. You can't beat a true macro lens. Like Carlton said, the Canon 500D close up lens (filter) is very good. I use the Nikon 5T and 6T close-up filters on my macro to get even closer than normal. The good close-up filters are pretty expensive. The cheaper versions by other companies are not worth the effort. I tried some years ago and they just will not give you the quality you need. You can't go wrong with a macro lens. In addition to the ones Peter mentioned, you may want to check on the Tamron 90mm macro. It gets very good reviews. Good luck with your choice.

12/22/2009 11:38:41 AM

Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  Thank you everyone ... and Kerby, great pics. I will go with the macro lens!

12/22/2009 4:40:52 PM

  Well, Pam, you have made the proper decision as far as I am concerned. You will be better off getting into macro photography with a lens between 90-105mm. It gives you more working room and you won't have the bugs jumping on you. LOL All of the major players that make macro lenses do an excellent job and these lenses are probably the best lens that they make. Many macro photos are taken with the camera mounted on a tripod. Make sure that it is VERY solid.
I owned a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro USM and used it on both the 20D and 5D with excellent results. You may still find it available, and I recommend it over the newer IS version because the IS is not needed since you are using a tripod and they are $$$ less expensive.
These lenses are also great to use as moderate telephotos but you do not want to use them for close-up portrait because it will show all of the pores in the skin. But if you have a person whose face tells a story with the wrinkles, then use it, but not for a teenage girl or a model.
Do not rely on the autofocus. Make sure that you check to insure that what you want is in focus and manually refocus.
After you get use to taking close-ups and 1:1 macro photos, you can add extension tubes to get an even larger image on your sensor.
I have also heard good words about the Sigma 105mm but the focus is slower than the Canons. Be sure to take the course offered by BP. It will make learning a lot faster and reduce experimentation, and you will have the instructor to answer specific questions.

12/25/2009 12:50:03 PM

  Thank you Pamela.

I love shooting flowers the colors, shapes and designs are all different and with the macro lens you can really make the designs come to life.

I just put all the flowers at the front of my port and it takes up the first four pages and there more on the 5th page.

You made a good choice to go with the macro lens. I suggest putting the camera on a tripod it really helps keep everything still and in focus.

12/25/2009 1:43:04 PM

  Pamela the other thing I want to suggest is to shoot on a none windy day if you shooting outside. Even a breeze can move things. I find early in the morning is an excellent time.

12/25/2009 1:47:33 PM

Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  ok, another question. I tried out a macro lens tamron 90mm for my canon rebel xt1i but I had so much trouble getting sharp pictures. I used the auto focus it didn't appear to have a manual focus option. Very little was in sharp focus. I did use it w/o tripod (b/c they were not allowed where I was) and increased my iso to get me a faster shutter speed. what am I doing wrong? am I forced to use a tripod or would it help to get the 1,049 canon high quality 100mm macro lens w/ IS so I can handhold when needed? thanks again in advance for any advice you can give :)

12/26/2009 8:41:24 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  According to specs, the Tamron Telephoto SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro does have manual-focusing capabilities. Also, according to reviews, the auto-focus can be slow and in-accurate in low light.

In macro, critical focus on a key element is best achieved manually.
With practice, it's possible (though not recommended) to hand-hold a 90 mm at its closest focusing distance in decent light.
Since DOF is very limited, a small aperture (f-16 or f-22)is required to get most of the frame in apparent focus. Unfortunately, the smaller aperture setting will decrease your allowable shutter speed, making it more difficult to shoot hand-held.
(Maybe flash will help.)

12/26/2009 11:45:25 PM

  The macro lens is the lens that was the hardest for me to learn to use.

My lens is not auto focus.

This may sound crazy but if I am going to a local garden to do flowers images I take a small step stool with me so I can get over the top of the flower if the flower is a larger flower.

The lens bring the flowers up really close and I want to try and get the whole flower. You can always crop later if you need too.

Make sure before you take the image that what you see if totally clear and infocus.

12/27/2009 6:11:16 AM

Sam Britt
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sam
Sam's Gallery

member since: 3/11/2006
  I've been using a Canon 60mm macro lens since 2006, though it has an Auto Focus setting. I almost never use it, I prefer manually focusing. It gives you more control of the part of the photo you want in focus, such as a the tip of a single flower petal or a single waterdrop. I experiment with various aperture settings to get the depth of field that I'm looking for. Using a tripod & a cable release is also extremely helpful.

I also agree with Kerby's comment, it's best not to shoot on a windy day.

12/29/2009 7:38:30 AM

  The Tamron does have manual focusing. It has a unique push-pull focus ring lock. You go from Auto Focus to Manual Focus by pulling or pushing the focus ring back or forward. Check out Tamrons web site for details.

Macro with a lot of DOF will require a tripod. You will need to stop the lens down to obtain a lot of depth. This requires a lot of light or a slow shutter speed which requires a tripod if you are only using natural light.

12/29/2009 7:53:34 AM

Barb Rathbun
barbrathbun.com

member since: 1/16/2006
  I just bought a Canon Extender EF 2X ll to use on My Canon 5D with my 70-300 lens but (oops) my lens is a Tamron and the extender won't fit the lens. Is there an adapter that I could buy? Help!

thanks
Barb

2/4/2010 5:58:28 AM

  Barb: You would need to buy a Tamron brand converter. ut are you sure you want to use a teleconverter with a lens of this type?

Canon specifically makes their consumer-grade lenses so they will not accept a teleconverter.

Because Canon is convinced that an inexpensive lens -- with small maximum apertures -- should not be used with a teleconverter. (Tamron should do the same.)

See my comments about teleconverters. Scroll down to Question 2 at

http://www.photolife.com/article.php?idArticle=58

Cheers! Peter

2/4/2010 6:28:57 AM

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Photography Question 
Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  5 .  Eye Wrinkles: Remove or Soften?
When taking photos of seniors and adults, do you take the eye wrinkles out in processing? Do you soften them? I'm wondering what people do or if you could share any techniques. Thanks!!

11/30/2009 8:11:31 AM

  Hi Tara...
I don't remove them entirely, but I certainly do soften them. I want the image to look believable and yet better, if that makes sense. There are many ways to soften wrinkles - from cloning to the healing brush, to layers and blurs. :-)

11/30/2009 11:15:38 AM

Linda Buchanan
lindabuchananphotography.com

member since: 4/26/2005
  I soften them some with the healing brush, or I use the the Nik Software skin softener at a low opacity. I don't remove them entirely. I usually brighten the eyes and whiten the teeth for senior citizens too, just a very little bit.

12/1/2009 9:35:18 AM

Nancy 

member since: 10/24/2005
  Hi! Tara,
My program allows me to, 1st. soft focus, 2nd. skin smoothing, 3rd. make-up tool, 4th. sometimes I use the clone tool too(before the make-up tool. This especially for shine on the skin. Also I use the digital camera noise removal. This always smooths out the skin.
Best, Nancy

12/15/2009 12:25:42 PM

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Photography Question 
Bobby R. Strange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/14/2006
  6 .  Outfit Changes...
Hi all. I was thinking about an upcoming senior shoot I have and it got me curious about how all of you on-location portrait photographers handle outfit changes. If you have a senior who wants multiple outfit changes and you're going to be shooting at multiple locations, where do they change? Or do you just limit them to 1 outfit?

11/21/2009 7:34:20 PM

  Each situation is different. If it's a rural location, I afford the model some privacy if needed. To protect myself, I always insist on a parent being along for the shoot. You have to figure out want works best for your location.

11/21/2009 9:42:03 PM

  Hi Bobby,
I have backed up against a brick building next to another car and when you open your car door, you have created a door-curtain (blocking the view to the student on all sides) that will work in a pinch if a gas-station/restaurant bathroom is not close by. They can also wear tight fitting undergarment (spande shorts, sports bras, etc..) to prevent themselves from being exposed to the public if you are out in a park or the countryside.
Most Senior shooters I know including myself charge by the time and not by how many outfit changes they make. They just have to realize that the more time they spend changing, the less they have for actual shooting but we are usually talking about just a few minutes anyway.
Most portrait shooters are pretty flexible concerning the number of outfits as they want to make their customers happy and get the best shoot they can.
And I totally agree with Dennis - have the parent(s) with you for the shoot since they are also the ones usually paying for it (to keep the shoot moving along) but more importantly, to oversee the decisions & welfare of their child.
Have fun,
Carlton

11/23/2009 1:50:56 PM

Bobby R. Strange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/14/2006
  Thanks for the response, guys!

Yeah, I always have a parent/guardian present when I'm shooting anyone under 18. That, to me, is a no brainer, lol.

I'd never thought of the "door-curtain", but I do try to suggest locations near restaurants/gas stations/etc when possible. I also had never thought of the tight fitting undergarments.

I've never charged for outfit changes, but more for the time. Though I am bad about telling them it will be a 2 hour session but then going 3 hours just because I am having so much fun shooting, lol.

11/23/2009 2:32:45 PM

Sarah G

member since: 10/30/2007
  I suspect that if you found yourself in a spot where there was no place to change, a mother of a teenage daughter would kiss the ground you walk on if you pulled out one of these things for them to use. However, you probably won't want to go this far with the issue. There is such a thing as as a "Deluxe Mobile Changing Room."

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00068B7GW?&tag=shopwiki-us-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325

I've seen them too. They're good if you've got to have some place to change and there isn't any place. They are easy to set up and fairly compact and light to carry around. Never owned one though, so I don't know how well they'd hold up.

I've also done business with the company selling them on Amazon. They are prompt with orders. They have their own website -- http://www.discountdance.com/index.php

If you're interested, go there, type in "Deluxe Mobile Changing Room" on their search engine and you will find 6 reviews of the product.

11/23/2009 11:30:54 PM

Bobby R. Strange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/14/2006
  Wow, I didn't even know something like that existed, lol. Thanks, Sarah. That's definitely something to consider.

11/24/2009 12:40:13 AM

Wendy C. Goeckner
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2006
  Because I drive separately, the senior usually does some quick changes in his/her car (with a parent driving, of course)! Often, the senior just has shirt/top changes, and the girls will wear a camisole underneath, so they just change outdoors, and the boys don't need privacy usually. I have also had parents bring a large blanket and surround the teen girl if she is changing into a dress. I do request a parent or other relative/friend attend the session.

11/24/2009 4:39:41 AM

Paul W. Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2006
  Hi Bobby,

You could stop at a gas station that has restrooms or a fast-food restaurant and have them change between locations. Or invest in some PVC pipe and connectors and build a portable dressing room.

Paul

11/24/2009 4:42:58 AM

Sarah G

member since: 10/30/2007
  Well, there are even more ways...two or maybe you just need one folded sheet(s) sewn together with a place for the head and loose enough to move around in. You can do a lot of changing wearing something like that. It doesn't necesarily need holes for arms. Make it a DARK COLORED sheet and it would not be see through.

Super large t-shirts work for someone not super large. Walmart men's section/craft stores and buy it in black.

Those two ways would be a really cheap and compact way to meet the Boy Scout motto of "Always be prepared" and could afford a little more privacy in a location without much.

11/24/2009 8:13:34 AM

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Photography Question 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  7 .  Macro Lenses
Hi,
I really like shooting macro photos. I have a Canon 50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens and I really like it ... but I would like to get even more magnification. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

11/8/2009 1:42:07 PM

  Hi Jennifer,
We are having a discussion concerning the new Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens -
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=34433
Many people like it for its portrait ability along with it being a macro lens. I have the older version 100mm (without IS) but am considering selling this to get the Canon 180mm L macro lens for more working room. The 180mm is bigger and heavier but I have lots of heavy lenses and strong arms as a result of using them so that won't be an issue for me :)
I also use a macro ringlight and a good tripod, and I manually focus when shooting macro.
Cheers,
Carlton

11/9/2009 12:23:53 PM

  I would recommend extension tubes. Normally they come in three sizes, 12mm, 24/25mm and 36mm. They may be purchased in sets. The more mm, the closer and larger your subject becomes.
Closer can become problematic in that you may disturb your subject and have them quickly depart, bite you, sting you, or all of the above. It is possible to join all of the tubes together also.
Please remember that when shooting this close, a tripod is necessary, a flash may be needed, a cable release or other remote release is desired, and small f-stops if needed for additional depth of field. Manually focus.
After about 10,000 or so shots, you will be pretty good at it. LOL

11/9/2009 12:23:57 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Thanks....I will check out the thread. I will also check out extension tubes.

11/9/2009 2:09:13 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Okay. I'm not gonna lie. I have no idea what I'm looking for. For reasons I can't understand, I do not comprehend all the numbers and letters thrown out there, no matter how many times people try to help me.

Basically, what I want is to be able to take a picture of, let's say, a ladybug and I want it to be really close, like right in the ladybug's face.

Any suggestions? I feel like an idiot.

11/9/2009 2:15:46 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  This is what I found that was made specifically for the Canon Compact Macro 50mm f/2.5 that I have.

Any thoughts on this?

http://store.pictureline.com/canon-life-size-converter-ef.html

Thanks. I really need to study more, I think.

11/9/2009 2:26:38 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Hello Jennifer,
Please allow me to join in this discussion.
If you want to get closer than 1/2 (1:2) lifesize (...which is the closest your 50mm Canon can focus), you should opt for the extension tubes Lynn recommended to increase your magnification ratio rather than an adaptor, which contains glass elements.
Extension tubes are hollow "spacers" which, when placed between the lens and the camera, will in effect pull the camera body further away from the subject...thus increasing its magnification. (Kind of like how moving a slide projector back further away from the screen makes the projected image larger.).
Since the 'tubes contain no glass elements, there will be nothing to compromise the quality and integrity of your lens.
You should keep in mind, though, that reflected light and depth of field will decrease exponentially the further you extend your lens. Also, camera-shake and subject movement will be amplified. But if you take the time to really get to "know" your bug, you should be able to close that distance and get right into its face.

11/9/2009 3:31:20 PM

  I had to do a little research on this being that you have a new lens. First I would suggest that you purchase from B&H or Adorama. The price for your lens at B&H is $30+ less than at Priceline and they give you a better warranty.
Your lens does not give a life sized image on your sensor. It only makes things 1/2 life size commonly refered as a 1:2 ratio i.e. 1"=1/2" on the sensor. Life size is 1:1 i.e 1"=1".
Caveat: I didn't take your cropped sensor into consideration. Size was determined by a full sized 35 mm sensor.

The converter you are inquiring about , when added, will give you a 1:1 ratio and at a further distance away. This will come in very handy while trying not to disturb the bugs by getting into their space. This converter also cost almost as much as the lens does!

I would also like to recommend that you do some serious reading about macro photography. It is one of the more difficult fields to learn to do properly. Also when you want to upgrade you will be less infuenced by a sales person who may or may not know about what you trully need and which is best.

Overall though your lens does rate quite well with the advanced and pro crowd. With your cropped sensor it will be nice for portraits also.


Lynn

11/9/2009 3:33:29 PM

  Haha, Bob camatra got his message in while I still correcting mine. As he mentionedextension tubes do not contain any glass, only air. You can purchase the complete Kenko set for less than you can purchase two Canon converters.
Maybe they get their air at wholesale. LOL

Good Luck


Lynn

11/9/2009 3:41:08 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Alright. I found a really nice place online and I called. They were super helpful and helped me find some extension tubes.

As for the flash, I just can't decide whether or not to get it. I have a slave flash already...and this is basically what they are trying to sell me, except theirs has a faster response time.

I just can't decide. I know I want the extension tubes, but I don't know if I want to spend the extra money on that flash when I already have a slave flash, although mine is a very cheap one.

11/9/2009 5:17:29 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  I think I'll hold off until I know I want it. I don't use flash very much at all. If I decide I need it I can get it later.

This is an expensive hobby! LOL

11/9/2009 5:19:36 PM

  "This is an expensive hobby".

Yes it can become very expensive. But it can become even more expensive if you purchase from the wrong people. I am aware of only a few places that you get what you pay for and you receive outstannding service as far as photography is concerned. Their prices are all about the same. There are at least 500 places that are scams with "bait and switch" tactics. For instance the person told you, "...their flash has a faster response time". A slave flash operates at the speed of light. How does his flash operate any faster? Another ploy used is they will up grade your from one that has a plastic whatever to a brass one, for more money of course. Or that you can get one built in Japan instead of China by the same company. Both Canon & Nikon have few lenses made in Japan. They never have the same model made in two different countries where one has plastic and the other one is brass. As far as eBay is concerned be VERY careful and check them out. Same thing with Amazon. Both have legit deals and the crooks.

Always check resellerratings.com when making a purchase from an unknown dealer. Also never give them your credit card# until the order is complete. Sometimes it is the first thing they ask for. It is best to use a credit card over a debit card. You can stop payment on the credit card and you may never retrieve your money back if you use a debit card.

There are deals out there. A rain cover for my camera cost #5.95 for two. If I want one to fit over an attached flash it is 8>95 for two. I have paid over $40 for quality built raincovers and found them totally useless. The inexpensive ones are easier to use and I have used one for an entire year before hauling the second one out of the packet. So price isn't everything. Check here to find out what gear works and what to avoid.


Lynn

11/9/2009 5:55:04 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  I agree. I decided against the flash because I thought, "I already have one I hardly use!"

As for the extension tubes I checked the prices on different sites. So I feel confident about that.

I'm not sure what he meant about the flash. It is a "speed light" that he mentioned. I will have to research that further.

I do agree about the expensive stuff not always being better. Since I'm fairly new at this I tend to use cheaper stuff until I decide that it's not good enough. Like my UV filters...I use the cheap ones and so far so good. I'm not a cheapskate, I just like to learn as I go and spend as little as possible until I find that I need to spend more.

There's no hurry, I can always get what I need later.

I will see how I like the extension tubes. Thanks so much for all the help!

11/9/2009 6:16:46 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Hope you don't mind me joining the discussion. I have a Canon 60mm macro lens and wanted some extension tubes to take me closer. I see there is a set of extension tubes on Amazon for £5.99. Is this too good to be true - and if so, what are the dangers in purchasing these?
Many thanks
Gina

11/24/2009 4:58:36 AM

  The problem with extension tubes is that they increase the aperture of the lens used at its widest opening. For example: With a f4 lens, such as my Canon 300mm f4L, my widest aperture is f/4, which is adequate to throw out the background and isolate the subject (if the subject is not right next to the background). But, with the 1:4 extension tube (on my Canon), that opens the lens to a maximum of f5.6, meaning less of the background will go out of focus--hence, less isolation of the subject.

I want to go the other way. Macro lenses are generally f/2.8 which can create good bokeh, when the background is totally out of focus and the subject is far enough away from the plants behind it. Check out the Flora album in my gallery for a comparison of the old and new Canon 100mm macro f2.8 and 2.8L lenses can do.

My 100mm macro f2.8 lens broke and Canon says they are no longer repairing these lenses. The reason is because their new 100mm macro f2.8L has come out. Both of these lens are terrific.

Hence, I bought the 100mm f2.8L (low dispersion) with I.S. and it's worth every dollar paid. The lens, being low dispersion glass is wire sharp, has more clarity than its predecessor. And, because it also has image stabilization, I can use it off the tripod if necessary. However, I generally prefer to shoot on a tripod for the maximum sharpness and reduced vibration, and so that I'm able to work with Canon's MR-14EX TTL macro ring lite flash which gives even lighting to the subject and which can be set in lighting ratios, that I really like. It's too cumbersome to hand-hold the lens and the ring flash. A tripod is the only way to go. B&H Photo-Video has this ring flash on special right now for $445. I order online or call in orders. Another light option, which I should have purchased is the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Ring-lite Flash (Guide No. 72'/22 m). This is for really serious photographers and like the ring flash, a sturdy tripod is necessary.

Hope this helps.

11/24/2009 6:22:43 AM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Thanks Bunny. I was more interested in why these Amazon ones are so cheap and wondered whether anyone knew what the quality was like. I'm happy with my 60mm macro at the moment. I'll enjoy looking at your flora album though.
Gina

11/24/2009 6:54:20 AM

  Jennifer, I have some inexpensive slave units, which I used when I could not afford better options, but have not used since.

When I had my manual Nikon (FM3A and FE), I did not have a Nikon flash. Flash units are also known as speedlites. At that time, I used a Sunpak 383 flash and some really inexpensive slave units which cost about US$15 for basically table top photography. The cheap slave units did not extend the light very far, but were a learning tool and I was learning what I did not want and what would have been a better purchase.

After switching to a better system than what I previously had, I used the Canon 420 EX speedlite, which did not really work to photograph flowers or small bugs because the light would go over the heads of the subject or blast the flower and light the background. Not wanted. Next, I bounced the light from the 420 EX (or any speedlite for that matter) into a large very reflective sheet of white foam core, which was directed to my flower source. This made a larger but softer light source, which worked for awhile until I began learning about better sources of light.

From the foam core, I went to the 14-MR EX ring flash which has a ring of light around the lens and evenly lights the subject (like the foam core) but is easier to manipulate. This is great for tiny little bugs on flowers, or other things that need even lighting. Dentists use this light. But, the thing I really like about this system is that very a relatively inexpensive price in comparison to some of the other models, and I can set ratios of 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2, etc. --putting more light on one side than on the other, and hence making more creative lighting.

Seriously wonderful macro photographers have told me I should have purchased the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Ring-lite Flash, which is more expensive. Yes! Photography is a very expensive hobby, and profession.

My point and shoot husband who doesn't bother doing Photoshop or even straightening his horizons and occasionally cuts off the heads of his subject felt it was ridiculous for me to purchase the more expensive flash/speedlite, and so I purchased the lesser expensive one. Since I believe that purchases should not be made until you cannot make do with what you have, I have stayed with the 14-MR EX, but will eventually make the plunge for the larger flash/speedlite where I can direct the heads to the angle desired. But, first, I want to learn all I can about macro photography from books and instructors at BP.com. Then, I'll know from my instructors recommendation which flash would work better. Their professional opinion is based on their experience and they are not getting a commission to sell a more expensive flash/speedlite unit.

I took the long trial and error approach to learning until I decided to cut to the chase --leave out the unnecessary preamble. I took classes to both empower me to learn and to make better images with my limited funds. Instructors have a wealth of information to share, if we ask questions.

Nearly every course I've taken has empowered me to purchase a piece of helpful equipment because of conversations with fellow students and with my instructors. For the most part, the equipment purchased was what I find very useful and use often.

11/24/2009 12:46:49 PM

  Gina - the very inexpensive extension tubes that you have found more than likely do NOT have the contacts on them for the lens and camera that you use. Each manufacturer is a little different.
You would probably have to do everything manually i.e. focus, f stop and shutter speed. This is a big can of worms that I don't even want to think about. The Pro Kenko extension tubes are ordered by the camera brand that you are using therefore insuring all of the auto features still operate. Same thing for the ones made by the various manufacturers. Please remember if it sounds too cheap there is something lacking. I did purchase a cheap tripod collar from China but I new it's defiencies before I purchased it and decided that I needed the extra $100 more and could put up with it since I mainly shot the lens/camera hand held.
For longer telephotos I would not have done it since they spend more time on tripods.


Lynn

11/24/2009 1:46:16 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Thank you Lynn. That's really helpful. I'll steer clear of those then!
Best wishes
Gina

11/24/2009 2:10:31 PM

Kathleen Brennan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/3/2006
  By the way consider the Canon Closeup filter for more magnification. You can even stack two of these on top of each other. I know some macro photographers that much prefer these to extension tubes.

11/24/2009 2:18:00 PM

 
 
  Ablative Absolute
Ablative Absolute
 
 
Hi Jennifer,
If you really want to be close, consider a microscope. Less expensive that many of the things already mentioned. Check out this article: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=185

11/28/2009 12:25:42 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Oh right Kathleen. I haven't thought about the close up filter. I'll investigate some more, thank you.
Gina

11/28/2009 1:43:47 PM

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Photography Question 
Julie Takamori
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/24/2008
  8 .  Using a Tripod and Wireless Release
 
  Too Dark
Too Dark
Used tripod w/wireless release. Don't know what went wrong.
© Julie Takamori
Sony Alpha A100 D...
 
  On camera timer
On camera timer
with timer on camera, a little better.
© Julie Takamori
Sony Alpha A100 D...
 
  Fix uped
Fix uped
used post fixing
© Julie Takamori
Sony Alpha A100 D...
 
I used my tripod to take a group photo. The first was a practice shot and it turned out good. The second came out dark with the wireless release, and the third is my "fix" up. Where did I go wrong?

10/19/2009 10:35:49 AM

  What mode did you shoot the 'wireless' shot in?

10/20/2009 12:48:08 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  The viewfinder eyepiece needs to be covered when shooting with the remote control in any autoexposure mode. Otherwise, light enters through the viewfinder and the meter reads more light than there actually is.
If your group is in deep shade with a bright background, the use of fill flash would help balance the subject and background exposures.

10/20/2009 4:37:57 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  P.S. While the eyepiece was uncovered when the shutter tripped using the self-timer, the exposure was locked while you were looking through the eyepiece which blocks stray light from entering.

10/20/2009 4:43:54 AM

  Hi Julie,
You have some strong backlighting in this shot and the people are in the shadow area. If you meter correctly to get the group exposed properly, you are going to have a really blown-out background.
You want to get more light on the group and a couple of speed-lights with a remote transmitter would work well for this type of shot. I have the 580EX, and a 430EX with stands and umbrellas and an STE2 transmitter. Both flashes can be set up away from the camera and triggered by the STE2 or the 580 will also work as a master flash and you can slave the 430 off the 580 but this way will require the 580 to be attached to the camera. Alien Bees or other strobes would work well for this to,o but these require AC - so the battery-powered Speedlites may be preferred.
Hope this helps!

10/20/2009 6:52:20 AM

Julie Takamori
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/24/2008
  Thanks everyone. I checked my properties & it shows the exposure going from 1/25 up to 1/160. I did forget about fill flash in the moment. It's amazing how my other photos of that morning came out a lot better-I wasn't in them. I'll review my notes on metering & back lighting.
My next family gathering is around Christmas, will be a lot better prepared.

10/20/2009 11:58:48 AM

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Photography Question 
Susan Wilkins
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/3/2006
  9 .  Studio On-Site Background Choice
I have agreed to shoot portraits at a hospital event for new mothers and their babies (0-12 months). I have white, taupe and black canvas backgrounds and red, blue, and white paper background. Does anyone have a suggestion for best background choice? Second question is for posing: Is there a quick sure-fire pose that would work well for moms and infants? I am taking studio lights - probably 2 rather than 3. Thanks!

10/19/2009 6:27:44 AM

  Hi Susan,
I like a mottled gray and then I can use a light on the gray to change the color or density. Given your choices, I would go with the taupe. I would also take the extra light - not only is it good for the background, it is just good to have back-up. You might want to look at this article on backgrounds:
www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=176.
In terms of posing: mother holding infant to chest is a classic. Used in Western art since there was Western art.
Good luck!

10/19/2009 5:47:09 PM

Susan Wilkins
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/3/2006
  Thanks for the info. I had narrowed down my choice to either white or taupe. Taupe is good. It really isn't any trouble to take 3 lights so I'll do that, also. This first event is expected to be small but will build as the plan to have one every quarter with approx 1600 women/babies invited. I'm sure I'll learn on a few and hope to be successful enough to be invited to each program. I am also allowed a vendor table free
of charge. Thanks again!

10/20/2009 11:24:25 AM

  Hi Susan,
Sounds like a great opportunity. Good Luck!
John Siskin

10/20/2009 12:16:14 PM

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Photography Question 
Robin E. Nichols

member since: 2/28/2008
  10 .  White Background
I have noticed portraits that have a solid white background and the person looks like they are popping off the page. Can you only do this if the background starts out white? Or is there a Photoshop trick? Has anyone done this before? Thanks.

12/12/2008 9:33:40 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Photos like that require oooodles of light, Robin. Of course, the subject needs to be lit well, but the white background needs to be lit a LOT more. The background must be at least 2 stops more than the subject to get it really white (and not grey).
Have fun!

12/12/2008 1:43:01 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Robin,
High Key portraits (white background) is another subject, often touted as perfectly natural by the same print judges who scream about "contrived" looks to photographs. Some of the same judges adamantly claim that only subject clad in white -- the extremists also add only blonde subjects, not dark haired ones -- are the ONLY fitting subject for this technique. Some also assert that the background should be perfectly white and have no evidence of shadows whatsoever. In some print competitions where some judges perpetuate often erroneous misconceptions, that might be true. In real life, however, you can make a lot of backgrounds look very nice with lots of subjects. My personal preference is a white background that doesn't always go pure white but more mid tones. Colored gels on the background light also give a nice complimentary pastel look. Many photographers trying to achieve this look felt that if two stops (at least) are good -- more is better. The late legendary Dean Collins used a white background and made it white, black, or any other color he chose, simply by controlling the light hitting it. He was not only a master at doing it, he was a master at teaching it as well. About two f/stops is the key. Any color with two more stops of light than the subject will essentially be rendered white with detail. Two less stops, black with detail. Another half to one stop and no detail (in the background). Even lighting on the background is what makes it work, since the falloff of light varies in an inverse square proportion and in a short distance or amount of power it makes a huge difference. That's the lesson in a nutshell. Making it work may take lots of experimenting and practice. THERE IS ANOTHER OFTEN OVERLOOKED AND EXTREMELY IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION. Light bounces off all objects in varying degrees but particularly so from a white background. With subject too close to the background (or in a small studio), if the light is much more than two stops, will start to pick up what amounts to lens flare from the background -- noticeable on the subject. While much of portrait lighting is a "season to taste" type of thing (once the basics are understood), the general rule of thumb for backgrounds is one stop less than the light on the subject gives a pleasing but not distracting tone to the background. Set the same as the main light, it gives essentially the same tone as you see looking at it. By the time you reach two stops difference, there is still detail but not blown out. (Lighter or darker.) More than that usually only creates problems. Setting the power of your lights two stops brighter in a small space with white walls will likely also get you more light bouncing off the other walls and the ACTUAL light may well be a half to one stop more. Try it but watch for these things.
Bruce

12/16/2008 4:27:12 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Robin,
Bruce's answer includes a lot of info, but it's all right on the money. High key lighting is not all that difficult, 'good' high key lighting is not easy and usually requires some experimentation in your given shooting environment. As Bruce correctly pointed out, one often made mistake is placing the subject too close to the background creating a 'halo' effect on the subject.
God Bless,
Greg

12/16/2008 5:22:55 AM

  I use white foam core or white Foamboard sheets, which are available from some arts and crafts stores to create starkly white backgrounds for some subjects. The price of the foam core depends upon the size and thickness needed.

My subjects are at least 6 feet from the background so that the shadow falls behind the subject and not onto the background.

Next, a least two to three lights are needed: One as a background light, one as a main light, and one as a fill, to fill in the shadows.

If the foam core sheets can be arranged into a three sided box, less lights will be needed because the light will bounce off the sides and light the subject.

This is not done with the in camera flash, because it's simply not powerful enough.

Also, while it can be photoshopped, everything is easier and faster if photographed correctly during the setup.

12/16/2008 9:04:46 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi all,
A previously unmentioned tip for high key is another Dean Collins gem of wisdom, his "cove corner." Dean created a rounded white corner that, because of the way the light hit the rounded corner, would light up a white background with one simple light behind the subject. This would be similar to the three sided box that Bunny mentioned.
Bruce

12/16/2008 5:27:20 PM

Robin E. Nichols

member since: 2/28/2008
  Thanks for all your suggestions.

12/16/2008 7:29:13 PM

  If you are using studio lighting equipment (mine are White Lightnings), you can see the light on the subject to create the wanted or unwanted shadows. This preview of what is ahead is in the form of incadescent lights on each monolight.

To meter each monolight, a sync cord can placed attached to the monolight and the flash meter. Metering each individual light alone gives a better idea of what the three lights will do together.

One light, which is important, but I forgot to add, is the hair light which is placed above the hair (but out of the picture) on a boom. This highlights the hair, creating that lovely glow, and separates the hair from the background, except if the person's hair happens to be white (like mine). Then, another set of problems occur.

I've found the same principle can be used with my portable flash units and the box, or the circle Bruce had mentioned. It would be kind of like a lighting tent, except the white foam core is highly reflective, doesn't show if set up well, and gives the feeling of a totally white background.

Now all that is needed is the subject dressed in white, so that the only contrast be her skin tonality.

12/17/2008 6:58:11 AM

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