First macro shoot, how exciting!

A little late, but I am finally now posting the pictures from the first day I took my shiny new camera and macro lens out into the world to see what wonders my camera would reveal to me.  My friend Jim and I went to the University of California Botanical Garden.  Jim is one of my delightful hiking buddies, and it was on a hike with him that we both discovered that we were fascinated by macro photography and we agreed to find some classes and learn together.  Jim and I took a one-day macro photography class together at the Point Reyes Field Institute, and we were raring to go try what we had learned.

Jim and I met at the garden entrance in the early afternoon.  In the Bay Area the typical summer weather pattern is calm in the mornings and winds picking up in the afternoon.  The day we were there fit that pattern, so I knew that getting good macro pictures would be challenging.  At that point I had no idea how really challenging it would be.  And I knew that patience and using a tripod are key, but I was just too darned excited.  I ran all over the place, taking lots and lots of pictures, barely using the tripod I had borrowed.  I was most definitely an excited little girl out there with her shiny new toy. . . as compared to Jim, who was zen-like patiently setting up his shots with his sturdy tripod.

In the macro photography class that we took, the instructor spoke about obtaining the right exposure by varying the f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO.    I needed to learn what combinations worked well, and so I figured if I took a lot of pictures, and varied the camera settings for each flower of interest, that I would both learn what worked and hopefully get some “keepers” as well.  So I took a LOT of pictures.  Don’t ask me how many; it’s too embarrassing.    But, I did indeed get a few keepers, and I had lots of fun in the process.

My favorite picture of the day is this one I call bumblebee ballet.  I like it not only because of the way the bee is straddling two flowers, but also because I did not know until I saw this picture that the coloring on bees comes from a mat of tiny hairs on their bodies.  How cool!

BeeBallet..UCBotan.061813

This next picture is a teeny little flower, less than half an inch, whose name I do not know.  At the UC garden, most of the flowers are labelled, but in my little girl excitement I was running around and clicking pictures too much to take the time to write down the flower names.  With my eyes all I saw was a pretty little pink flower ball, and was amazed at the beauty and complexity of the flower that the macro lens revealed to me.

ucbotgarden.061813-04

This next one amazed me too when I saw it first in full size on my computer screen.  A pretty little pink flower, but look at the tiny little bits of blue and white, which I think are bits of pollen  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollen) that bees carry on their feet from flower to flower.

ucbotgarden.061813-02

This last picture is not a great picture, but I’m including it because it revealed to me more amazing wonders of nature.  I think this is some sort of a carnivorous plant, and what you can see a little here is that there are tiny sacs of sticky stuff.  My friend Mr. Wiki explains this “flypaper trap” here.

UCBotGarden.061813-23

I learned some basic lessons that day, things that I had read in books and on-line articles, but I didn’t “get” until I took this first set of hundreds of pictures (I’m still not saying how many) from which a few were keepers:

  •  Wind is the enemy of the macro photographer.  Even the slightest breeze.  Try in the morning when winds are typically calmer.
  • Be patient — wait until conditions are better.
  • You can get lucky if you do continuous shooting, and catch the flower as it is in the switch of the cycle.  But then you have a LOT of photos to go through and that takes a LOT of time!
  • Be patient — wait until conditions are better.
  • Wow, you really have such little depth of field when taking close-up pictures!
  • Be patient — move around and try different settings to improve the depth of field.
  • Get a soft paintbrush to brush off debris.  A little speck of dirt or a thread from a spider web may be barely noticeable through the viewfinder but it is huge when you look at the picture on your computer.  You can look by enlarging pictures in the camera’s preview mode.
  • Be patient — wait until conditions are better!
  • I was so focused on the flowers in the pictures that I did not pay attention to the background.  I must pay attention to the background next time!

I learned that day a lot about how to take really bad pictures!  And how much time it takes to go through all of those bad pictures.   But, hopefully I learned a little about what not to do better the next time. . .

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This entry was posted in Insect Photography, Macro photography, Wildflower photography. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to First macro shoot, how exciting!

  1. Giulia says:

    So beautiful!

  2. Pingback: Photography | Up close, in macro mode | Mike10613's Blog

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