Photography News Issue 47

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Photography News | Issue 47 | absolutephoto.com

Technique

1/240sec at f/4.5, ISO 400

1/500sec at f/3.8, ISO 400

a shallow depth-of-field when focusing close to or at a lens’s minimum distance. Dealing with this, says David, is a matter of making a choice: “One approach is to use flash or to only shoot in very bright light, and that will allow you to use smaller apertures and increase the depth- of-field accordingly”. What’s more, the flash should ‘freeze’ any movement, especially if you’re shooting at the camera’s sync speed, and a small aperture. Therein, often only the light from the flashmay be visible, with no ambient light, and you’ll therefore avoid the motion blur found in many longer exposures, because the flash duration will be very short. “Alternatively,” says David, “embrace the softness and shootwith the aperturewide open. This is the method I prefer and the resulting abstraction is a look that I particularly like.” Shooting wide open gives a very shallow depth-of-field – and therefore faster shutter speeds can be used to stop subject movement. “I used to strive for front-to-back sharpness in images (and it’s the way I still generally shoot landscapes), but it isn’t always necessary,” he explains “Taking a more impressionistic approach is oftenmore pleasingwhen shooting soft, organic subjects like flowers.” Sharpness where it needs to be Of course, when depth-of-field is shallow, you need to focus accurately. David uses a focusing rail which is “enormously helpful in finely adjusting the composition and focus of a shot.” When using manual focus lenses, he says, “the focus peaking on mirrorless cameras helps a lot, too.” If you’ve not used focus peaking for your macro and close-up work yet, make sure you give it a try; the wysiwyg sharpness preview it gives via a live-view screen or EVF means there’s no more missed focus – unless the camera or subject moves, of course. “A focusing rail is also useful if you want to extend the depth-of-field through focus stacking,” says David, a sequence of shots focused at a different distance each time, so that when combined, the composite imagewill show greater sharpness. “This isn’t a technique I use a lot,” says David “but when you need that extra bit of sharpness through the image it’s great.” A focusing rail also needs to be mounted on a tripod, so that it can be used accurately, but whenever using a tripod around floral subjects you need to be careful that you don’t knock the plant, making it move and softening the shot throughmotion blur. Even moving plants close to the main subject can affect it. From this point of view, it’s best to use the camera’s self-timer mode to minimise vibration transferred to the subject, or to use a cable release, letting you standwell clear. 

Top left: Getting a very low viewpoint can be a challenge but if your camera has a tilting monitor, now’s the time to use it. Above At wide apertures, like f/3.8 here, a shallow depth-of-field lets your subject stand out from the background. Very wide apertures can lead to vignetting (darkening of the corners) however, so lens corrections should can used either in shooting or editing to fix it if desired.

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