Macro Photography

I finally received my much long awaited Macro lens and ever since getting it, I have done nothing but shoot with it, experimenting with it and learning how to best use it. So I thought I would share these macro Shots with you here, I will be writing a blog post on what I have learnt using a Macro lens and how to best use it. What I did learn immediately is that using a tripod is a must.

I would love to know what you think of these, so please feel free to leave comments.

Happy Shooting.

Alphabet Spaghetti Photography

If you have young children this maybe a good way to get them involved in a photography project, simply find the letters to spell their name with Alphabet Spaghetti and after you have finished you can print them off at home and hang the finished photo on the door of your child’s room or above their bed and have Alphabet Spaghetti for a snack, lunch or dinner or all three.

Purchase one or two cans of Alphabet Spaghetti and get your tweezers or a bread knife and select the letters that you want to use, place them onto some paper towel. Get a white bowl and pour in some of the sauce which covers the bottom of the bowl, it doesn’t need to be thick but rather enough to cover the whiteness of the bottom of the bowl. Place your selected letters in very carefully and arrange them to form what you want to spell out. Once happy, place extra Alphabet spaghetti letters around the outside giving the impression that you have miraculously found that when you poured the contents out, your name suddenly appeared to you.

Once happy with the way you have set the letters up in the bowl, find a spot in the house that has plenty of ambient light coming in such as large window or a doorway, set your tripod up with you camera attached and the best way is to get your camera looking straight down, place the bowl underneath and very carefully wipe away any excess sauce from the edges of the bowl. Set your ISO to 100 to get that crisp clear image and let your camera decide what White Balance to use. Try not to use flash as the flash reflects off the sides of the bowl and the sauce in the bottom of the bowl creating a shiny surface. Manually focus on the letters and ensure that you camera remains on Manual focus mode.

Once you have taken the required shots, rearrange the letters to form new words or names and this is where the second can of Alphabet Spaghetti comes in as it provides you with extra letters that are commonly used. If you can find the a letter like the letter ‘i’ simply trim the letter ‘t’ down and there you have the letter ‘i’.

Download your photos to your PC or laptop and if required clean up your image and then cropped to your desired size.

The words that can be spelled out are endless and this should provide a couple of hours of fun for you and the kids to do. Hopefully they should have smiles on their little faces when they see the photos being printed out and they can hang them up on their wall or take them to school for show and tell. Its creative and gets the kids minds going inspiring thought and ideas.

The mistakes I made doing this project were that I forgot to manually focus my lens to ensure that I had a crisp image, instead I let the camera do it and I don’t think my results were not as good as I had hoped. I also had to use the ceiling lights because we have had no Sun for a month but rather overcast days with loads of dreary clouds and rain. With that in mind, my exposure setting was quite long, probably about 8-10 seconds to get the right exposure. I did use a cable release to stop getting camera shake, I would also recommend that if you can shoot in RAW and if you don’t have the ability to process your RAW images with programs like Light room or Aperture, shoot in JEPG fine to increase the file size and ultimately the quality of the image.

Once you have finished, you can simply microwave the Alphabet Spaghetti and eat your hard work.

In the comments section, leave a link or post a photo of what you have come up with as I would love to see it.

Happy Shooting.


Smartie Reflections

Firstly, I would like to apologise to the regular readers of this blog, I had to put my camera down for awhile as I needed some ‘Me’ time. Its not that I had run out of inspiration or was over it all but I had been working pretty hard and it all came to a head when I struggled to get out of bed one morning. Simply put, I was exhausted.  So after speaking to my wife, I decided to take a month off and not pick up my camera, nor write any blog posts or add to either my G+ plus or Facebook page. I needed to rest and spend some valuable time with family.  The problem is that Facebook and especially Google plus is pretty hard to stay away from. I did post some things but they were small posts and I wouldn’t revisit for days. Now rested I decided that I would do something here at home which everyone can do.

I picked up a photography magazine from my local newsagent which I read regularly. I find that reading photography magazines provide ideas, insight to other peoples photography and provoke thought and most importantly, action. I know I can hear the cries already. I can get the same from reading them on line, but I am old school and I like to be able to hold a magazine or a book when I read, not a tablet. Tablets are something you take when you are ill or have a headache.

This one article about refraction gave me an idea, I am not quite sure I know what refraction is exactly but I think I achieved what I was aiming to do and here is how I achieved it.

All of these images were shot here at home and nothing special was used. I did take them at night using the ceiling lights which explains the long exposure. Heres what I did and please remember that none of this is supposed to be perfect at all.

I have an old black fold out card table at home which I use to put camera gear on, use as a work bench or use if I am shooting macro and then use it for the odd family function, but if you don’t have a fold out card table you can use a coffee table or even the kitchen bench. You need a black surface as well and you can use anything that is black.  Black t-shirts, pants, skirts or a dress that your better half will allow you to use and lay that flat as possible on a hard surface like the kitchen bench or coffee table. Then grab some white A4 paper or A5 paper and then roll it length ways to form a circle and the tape it closed. The circle you have made needs to be about 80 -100mm in diameter. Then if needed, trim down your paper so it is only about 30 -50mm high.  Now find a CD case that has very few scratches or dings and dents and give it a good clean using a lens or glass cleaner. Use a cloth that is preferably lint free as this will reduce the amount of cloning you will need to be doing during the post processing phase.

Here’s the good bit, grab a large bag of some colourful chocolates like Smarties, M&M’s or skittles from your local supermarket or shop. Place about 10 or so of them at the bottom of the circled paper

arranging them so they provide a good cross section of colour. Literally arrange them any way you like. You don’t need many but the tip here is don’t stack them, make sure that there is only one layer of your favourite coloured chocolates/ sweets.

Set you tripod up with the camera looking directly down and over the top of the paper ring with the sweets/ chocolates and manually focus on the centre one. If you have a macro lens, use it but if you don’t have a Macro lens, don’t despair. As some of these sweets are large enough to focus on anyway you shouldn’t have to many problems using your every day lens. Once you have focused on the centre sweet or chocolate, switch it to manual mode to ensure that your camera doesn’t decide to re-focus when you go to take your shot. set your ISO to 100 to reduce or limit the amount of noise and provide you with a crisp clear image. In this case I set the White Balance to Auto and let the camera decide. I also shoot in RAW as well but if you are unable to, shoot in the JPEG Fine to give you a better and higher resolution image.

Pull apart the CD case so you have just the lid and then place it directly over the top of the coloured sweets/ chocolates and then find an eye dropper or a syringe and fill with water. Now carefully and slowly place drops of water on to the top of the CD case lid. I found an eye dropper worked best as I could put one drop at a time on the CD case and I could almost space them evenly as well. When I used the syringe, I found that I would sometime squeeze to much water out and would have to start again.

I used a cable release as well so I would have to touch the camera when the shutter fired which prevents camera shake and the shutter speed was pretty slow.  If I had some sunshine here instead of all of the rain the shutter speed would have been a lot faster as I could have done it outside or near a window.

Now while you are taking your shots, eat some of the smarties, M&Ms or skittles and if you want, you could always include a half eaten chocolate or sweet. Play with the way the chocolates are laid out in your circle but be mindful when you take the CD case off your rolled up piece of paper that you have all of those carefully placed water drops, so do it very gently an slowly because you don’t want start again either.

Once you are happy with all of the shots that you have taken, download them to your PC or laptop and process them whilst eating the remaining smarties, M&M’s or Skittles, You will need to crop the image down a little cutting out the paper circle from the edge of your frame and undoubtably you may need to clean up some of the scratches and dents that are in the CD case to get that image to where you want it. Hopefully you should end up with something like these that I have taken.

Also I thought that I would explain the 3 photos that I have shown you here. The first photo is an overall image with rolled up white A4 paper with the smarties in the centre and a CD case lid sitting on top with water drops placed carefully on top, the second photo is not quite what I wanted as the is not real clear even after I had applied a sharpening tool to it during the post processing phase. I seemed to have focused on the water droplets rather than the smarties. The third photo is a lot better and I was fairly happy with what I had managed to achieve, the overall image is clear and the water droplets have good reflections of the smarties directly underneath. Its a fun photo and I would be more than happy to have a young family have this hanging in the home. The kids would love.

If you have problems, please feel free to leave a comment and I will help you out and for those of you who succeed, I would love to see what you have come up with and please remember, this is meant to be fun and the results do not need to be perfect at all.

Happy Shooting.