Category: Macro World
These are some macro shots taken during a Thadiyandamol Trek:
Earlier, I've hardly used any ISO value other than the minimal one offered by the camera. In S2IS, it was ISO-50 and with EOS 400D it is ISO-100. Infact, I felt that EOS 400D should also have had an ISO-50. If not for higher clarity, it should have helped me to get longer exposures / wider shutter in some cases.
Well ... I did try out the higher ISO settings in EOS400D and the results were more than satisfactory. Even at ISO-1600, during indoor low light conditions, the camera gave me decent pictures, like the one here. Ofcourse, when u zoom into the picture on ur monitor, one can make out the unwanted grains. But, how does it matter when all u plan to do is resize the picture (to say 900 x 600) and send it over to friends by email? Higher ISO in some conditions make some on-existent photography conditions possible, like say, taking people's picture, inside the house, after 6. Especially, if u r the kind who doesnt like to use the popup flash, bumping up the ISO settings is not really a bad idea.
These pics are taken when Adarsh and I decided on a weekend evening to take a look at the Halasuru (Ulsoor) Lake. The first pic comes from near the Park, looking at the street light reflections (f/8 and 30second exposure) and the second one is the reflection of the Philips building onto the lake (f/4, 3.2seconds).
The first pic is a good example of how a normal looking frame can be spoiled by wrong metering. With a bright afternoon sky in the background, the camera will always report a lower exposure thereby giving a dark image of the palace. It is there by necessary to either go to partial metering mode or to increase the exposure manually to make sure that the subject is not under-exposed. In this pic, I had used 1/200s, 4 times more than what was suggested by the camera.
With Dasara around the corner, the palace was expected to come up with bright lighting around it. This particular pic was taken with just the initial lighting with a high exposure (f/16, 10s). I was expecting the lower shutter width will give me a good enough DOF to cover the entire range and also to compensate any mistakes of focusing in the dark.
Once the lights were on at 7PM, I frantically tried a lot of pics in different angles and distances but was found wanting with my 18-55mm EF-S lens unable to give me a full view of the palace. Finally after I packed up the tripod and was walking back, I realized that the whole palace can be covered if I tried from an angle! And here it is ... this pic was actually taken in a hurry @ 18mm, f/22, 6second exposure.
Canon has a very useful mode of operation called A-Dep, where the camera will choose the 'f' value small enough to make sure all the nine AF points are in focus (and subsequently an exposure time suitable for this 'f'). This mode can give a fair idea of Depth of Focus when u r in doubt.
It may be desirable to try different values around the camera suggested 'f' value to get the optimal results. But, A-Dep gives a way to quickly approximate the required 'f' value.
One thing to remember here is that, if any of the AF points fall out of the subject (lets say to a far away object), the calculation can go really wrong. If this happens, most of the times, camera will end up with something like f/32 or flash saying, it could not find any proper 'f' value. Result may be a pic with a lot of distractions and / or blurring due to higher exposure value.
All three pics were taken with A-Dep or in Av using an 'f' value close to the one suggested. First flower pic had f/5.6, the 'yogini' pic had f/7.1 and the aster and bee pic had f/18.
This was my first real chance of using the new EOS 400D and I did click at every flower I could spot and followed every bee I saw. Couple of pictures I got were decent, but the majority were sufferring from a low Depth of Focus (DOF). I soon realized that keeping the lens wide open @ f/2.5 may not be the right thing to do in every situations.
Still, I had got a few decent pics, more because of luck than my understanding of the situation :-) In the first pic of the yellow flower, there are some portions which went un-focused. But, I liked the pic in spite of that :-) I am still not sure if I would have got a better pic with a different 'f' value, but I should have atleast tried!
In the second pic, the white flower had a kind of wierd shape and the pic is taken at a rather flat angle. Hence, the DOF was not much of a problem here.
The real problem in this pic was the exposure. I should have got a better pic, had I used a lower exposure time. But, the problem was that I was already using the lowest possible in my camera (1/4000s). Now, it didnt occur to me that I could just reduce the shutter width to something like f/4.5 and darkening out the background. It would have been an easy thing to do, coz my subject was a bright white fower.
In the third pic, the subject is not the flower, but the bee and again, since the bee is only a small portion in the frame, it is reasonably focused, except for the edge of its wings. The flower is hardly focused in this pic, but it didnt matter much!
All these cases, I guess I should have atleast have tried with a few other exposure values. I may not have got any better results .... but atleast I would know what is the right thing to do.
The 50mm macro lens I have is no match to the super macro mode in Canon Powershot S2IS. But I did figure out a way, albeit a difficult one, to take macro pics. Jamshy first told me about this and send me some sites as well talking about Reverse Lens photography.
Concept is quite simple, just take a wide angle lens (I was using the 18-55mm EF-S lens with the lowest focal length) and use it with its front facing the camera. Now, its a tough thing to hold the camera and the lens together and do things like focusing, especially with the extremely low Dept of Focus (DOF) available while doing this.
The strands of the carpet in the picture is not more than a couple of mm wide. Also, the details visible through the reversed lens was hardly visible through naked eye! One obvious problem as can be seen in the pic is the extremely low DOF coz of which one has to be extremely careful about focusing. Ofcourse, the focusing has to be manual with the lens detached.
There is quite a lot of literature in the net, talking about reversed lens photography, one of them even talking about how to make a ring to hold this lens. Looks like this kind of rings are even available in the market!
Having a tool like Depth of Focus (DOF) to play with is a gr8 experience. Especially, for me who always found the DOF control offered by S2IS rather limited, this was indeed a gr8 new dimension to photography. But, it didnt take much time to realize that using too less of DOF can also cause problems.
For example, the picture of these wind chimes, taken at f/2.5 is focused only at the tip, leaving a good portion of the subject rather un-focused. Its another thing that I kinda liked what I got and even expected it :-)
Not the same case with the picture of this cactus plant. It was rather frustrating to see that the whole of the cactus is not coming under focus and I took some time before figuring out that its because of the low DOF. I finally, had to go for something like f/5.6 to get the whole thing properly.
It was time to open up the new toy I recieved .... Canon Rebel XTi aka EOS 400D digital SLR, with a 18-55mm lens, a 50mm compact macro lens and a wireless remote.
Almost the first picture I have taken using my new EOS 400D is the one below:
The picture on the top is taken using f/2.5, at a sideways angle to accentuate the effective distance within the letters in the calendar plain. Here, only letter 9 seems to have been focused and the remaning blocks look blurred.
In the second picture, f/32 is used and the depth of focus seems really high, with the whole of the calendar under focus. To be noted that both the pics are taken at almost the same lighting conditions / angle / distance using my 50mm fixed focal length lens.
Though, the normal digital cameras (like my S2IS) does offer control of aperture width 'f', this kind of control on the depth of focus is nowhere near possible using S2IS.