Sunday, March 11, 2018

Flower Macro Photography

I have always had a fascination with macro photography...
zooming in super close to see all the details.
But, I never had the patience and was actually a bit intimidated
 to figure out how to capture
these close-up gems!

After undergoing hip surgery in December, I was forced to
stay inside and decided to spend the winter FINALLY learning
macro photography.

I am SO HAPPY I conquered the fear and confusion!

Because I was sorta held captive at my 
kitchen table, I experimented over and over.

Here's what worked for me, so you can try it.

Equipment I used:

Canon 5D Mark III camera

Tamron 90mm macro lens 



If you don't own a macro lens, you can purchase extension tubes,
but make sure you buy the more expensive tubes with 
electronic connections so the auto-focus is
compatible with your lens.  The cheaper tubes will not allow you to auto-focus.

You can also purchase the set for Nikon or buy name brand tubes.

My first attempts at macro were exciting!

I used auto-focus but set my own focus point.

I loved zeroing in on close-up details while the rest 
of the photo became blurred art.

I learned very quickly that with macro you have an exremely 
narrow depth-of field...thus a teensy sliver in focus!

In this next photo, the focus point is on the area where the stamen sticks
out of the flower, but the end of the stamen which is just a tad further away
in the photo is blurred.

While these photos are pretty...

I wanted more than a sliver in focus.

That's when I began to study focus stacking.
For this simple pink flower, I stacked 10 photos and merged in Photoshop.
(I show you how to take these photos below.)

For the yellow daisy, I stacked 22 photos, but some of the 
closer petals are still not in focus.

That's when I realized, I need to focus in on every detail of the flower
even if it takes a TON of photos!

This photo is 48 photos merged.

Notice how all details of the flower are in focus.

 I took multiple photos with different focus points,
then stacked and merged them in Photoshop.

Photoshop is AMAZING at figuring out the prime focus point from each
photo and seamlessly merging them into one photo!

This is when macro work got me VERY excited...
these are the results I was looking for! 

The fine details are incredible on the entire flower.

Here's how I photographed for focus stacking:

I created this cheapy little macro studio facing a large window
on my kitchen table.

I simply bought a tri-fold white board and plopped a
foam core board on top and bottom.

For backgrounds, I taped scrapbook paper on
the white board behind the subject or you can 
keep the background white...or use another color.

Set up your camera on a tripod and make sure you shoot a bit
wider because when you stack all those photos and align them, you will
have to trim down the mismatched edges.

Set your camera to a 2-sec. delay or you can use a remote trigger
to avoid camera movement.

Read your camera manual to learn how to put your camera into LIVE view.
This was a new learning experience for me as I have 
never used the live view feature on my camera before and I love it
for this kind of close-up work!

While your camera is in live view, you can toggle the focus point around.
Use auto focus!

See the little square?  That's your focal point.
Take a photo with that focal point.

Now toggle the focal point just a bit to the right or left...up or down and
take another photo.  It's best to overlap the focus points
a tad for better merging.

Try not to move your camera, but some movement is likely.
Photoshop will auto-align minor movement.

Continue doing this until you have covered all of the subject
that you want to be in focus.

Make sure to focus on the all the edges of your subject for clarity.

For this photo, I ended up with 42 shots:

After you have aligned, merged and flattened your creation,
you can crop and edit your photo to your liking.

Here's my final edit:

There are a ton of YouTube video tutorials showing how

The best part, Photoshop does all the work...stacking, aligning and; merging!

I buy flower bouquets at my grocery store when they are on sale
and have a great time practicing macro photography.

The most photos I have stacked is 78,
but you can try MORE!

Sharpen the fine details a bit in Photoshop
and you have created a fine work of art!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Valentine Portrait Ideas

Valentine's Day is coming up and thought I'd share
some ideas for some LOVEly portraits.

If you live in an area with snow, try trampling out 
the shape of a heart to frame a little one as in the photo above.

Here's an idea for a little boy:

I found this great heart-shaped mug at the thrift store,
but you can use a red or pink cup.

My steam overlays are available HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Include any fun Valentine props you already have in 
your home.

I found the little bucket of kisses a few years ago at the Dollar Store!

If you don't have props...just show love in your photos.

To keep it simple, photograph your subject in front
of a white wall, or hang a white sheet,
then add one of my heart bokeh overlays.  They come in four colors
and are available HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Dress the kids in Valentine colors!
I dressed these adorable sisters in pink from the thrift store.

Try adding a texture or wallpaper with hearts to the background:

Or add a pop of hearts with a frame!

Learn how to create a frame by watching my

Add some whimsy with my Blowing Hearts Overlay
you can purchase HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Or add some of my Heart Glitter available HERE.

Jazz up a photo with my Heart Frame Overlay
you can get HERE!

With all the love in the air at Valentine's Day,
it's the perfect time to capture special portraits of your loved-ones!

iPhone Macro Water Droplet Photography

In my last post about iPhone Macro Photography,
I showed you how to photograph snowflakes.

Read that blog post if you are new to iPhone macro work
to see what lenses I used and to learn my trick for easy focus.

Now, I want to focus on water droplets
because they pose so pretty and make GREAT subjects for
iPhone macro photography!

I could NOT stop experimenting with water droplets!

To get firm drops, I used glycerin from the tip of a toothpick,
but you can also try an eye dropper.

Look around your house for various textures
to attach a water or glycerin droplet.

Here I used a white feather that was on a Christmas ornament!

Capturing a scene inside the droplet is exciting!

I found that by placing the scene or subject from a few inches to a foot behind the drop,
I could capture it in the droplet.

First, I tried various patterned fabrics.

I love how the fabric comes into focus within the droplet,
and blurs to art in the background!

In these next few photos you see tiny drops on the droplets.

That's because I tried spritzing the glycerin drops with water
for a different effect.

Be creative and try lots of different ideas!

I sprayed these next drops with water and got an etched glass effect.

This first photo is shot with the 14X lens.

To get a wider view to include more drops...

Use the 7X lens like this next photo.  You will also get a bigger depth-of-field.

It took me forever to get all these droplets to stick
in this next photo.
Would you believe that is teensy thread?

This is where the glycerin worked much better than water.

Try tilting your camera various ways. 

You can even change the angle with the crop tool in editing.

Try using different color thread.

I also tried a thicker string and
 wanted to capture a specific object in the droplet like this:

Here was my set up.  I created an entirely white surround
using a tri-fold white foam-core board and two 
boards I found at the dollar store for the top and bottom.

Because the droplet picks up it's surroundings including the ceiling,
I wanted to keep the area all white so my subject was clear.

See my stack of colorful fabrics?
They are napkins, pillow cases, etc. I found at thrift stores.
I clipped them to the back board.

This was facing a large picture window in my kitchen for natural light.

I used two clips to stretch the string or thread .

See my spritzer bottle of water?

Then I taped my subject, the pink daisy on the white board behind the droplets.
I put glycerin in that little black cup
and dipped my toothpick into that to create the droplets.

It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how close your subject
needs to be, and the best angle for fitting your subject into the droplet.

Perfect example of the subject becoming the blurred background!

Pay attention to how you include the background in your composition.
Here are two examples:

Using my focus method from this blog post,
I concentrated on getting the subject in focus rather
than the droplet.

                                    In this next photo, I put the droplet on a pine needle
and was thrilled to capture this just as the droplet was falling!

Here is an example of getting the droplets in focus...

Here's that same shot with the subject in focus.
Both make for a pretty you get to choose which you like best.

I was determined to capture a snowflake!

This is not a real snowflake, 
I taped up a Christmas ornament against blue fabric.

Shooting in the BURST mode,
I was able to capture this great shot of
the droplet just beginning to fall!

I also wanted to photograph some hearts for Valentine's Day
and that's when I realized that the droplets act much
like a crystal ball...they turns the subject upside down.

So, I taped tiny hearts upside down so inside
the droplet they were right side up.

Notice the taped-up heart in the background is upside down!

I picked up a pot of pink daisies from the grocery store,
and played with the water droplets.

Look!  There's a daisy in the water droplet!
I purposely placed the daisy in the background.

I wanted to explore different lighting, so I took these next
photos on the desk in my office with the light from
a lamp.  I used a black piece of paper in the background
 for a different mood.

The glycerin was too heavy for the fragile flower petals,
so I spritzed with water and love the roundness of the droplets!

While shooting this next photo without my
all white surround,
you can see my desk in the droplet and it's not that interesting.

So I moved one of the daisy heads behind the drop and this is
much prettier.

Be aware of what you are capturing in your drop.

Try different angles, backgrounds,
and lighting!


With the narrow depth of field,
don't worry about getting the
entire drop in focus.

Let the lens create art by
revealing just a hint of focus.

I moved my photos into Photoshop, adjusted saturation,
contrast and sharpened a bit.

I love playing with textures! 

The textures really turned my macro photos into art!

Macro iPhone photography is addicting!

I can't stop photographing water droplets!!!!

I love that I can macro indoors with just a few props from around the house
and any lighting will work.

Enjoy this creative venture!