Techniques For Sharp Images

Closeup images require adopting techniques and strategies that consistently produce sharp results. Light is lost when using extension tubes or macro lenses to magnify the image. As magnification increases, depth of field decreases rapidly so apertures such as f/16 are necessary to make the most important parts of the subject sharp. Due to loss of light and depth of field considerations, typical shutter speeds for closeups are frequently in the 4-1/8 second range. Magnifying the image also magnifies any movement of the camera or subject, so it becomes far more challenging to make super sharp images. Using a tripod is absolutely mandatory for making stunning images with natural light. Be sure to use a tripod that is designed so the legs can be spread wide making it easy to work near the ground where so many closeup subjects are found.

Depth of field which is the zone of acceptably sharp focus becomes very shallow at high magnifications from 1/4 life-size and greater. For instance, at three times life-size, the depth of field at f/16 is only a couple of millimeters. It is critical to focus carefully in all nature photography, but especially macro since the limited depth of field available isn't sufficient to mask minor focusing errors. It is best to manually focus the lens on the most important part of the subject such as the eye of a robber fly or wing of a butterfly. Perhaps a specific part of a wildflower is most important such as the stamens so focus on those.

Since depth of field is so limited in clo-seup photography, align the focusing plane with the most important plane in the subject. Consider a dewy spider web or the wings of a sleeping butterfly. To make the dew on the web or the wings of the butterfly as sharp as possible, the focusing plane and the plane of the dew drops caught in the web or the wings of the butterfly must be parallel, so the limited depth of field covers the subject as completely as possible. Shooting the dew-laden web or butterfly wing at an angle will certainly throw part of the subject out-of-focus. The greater the angle to the plane of the wing, the more out-of-focus part of the subject will be. It is better to choose an angle where the dominant subject plane and sensor plane are parallel.

A tripod is absolutely mandatory for making natural light images in low light. These dewy blueberries might be a fine breakfast snack, but never eat the good compositions until you are done. Neither one of us noticed the jumping spider until we viewed the image on the computer.

A tripod is absolutely mandatory for making natural light images in low light. These dewy blueberries might be a fine breakfast snack, but never eat the good compositions until you are done. Neither one of us noticed the jumping spider until we viewed the image on the computer.

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