Happy Valentine’s Day 2011

When my lovely wife brought these home, I wasn’t thinking about Valentine’s Day, but they do seem to go, right?

  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Credit: Ari Brown
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
  • Taken: 30 January, 2011
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 3.2s

I was thinking more about macro.  With the 100mm lens and the 1.6 multiplier, you can get pretty close.  Your depth of field goes to nothing in a hurry, so I stopped this down to f/10 – I had the luxury of tripod and natural light, which helps.

Another thing I’d never really realized is that flowers are mega dust traps.  You can keep your lens clean, but if the subject you’re shooting attracts dust, get ready to spend some time cleaning it up on the computer.  Luckily Lighroom makes it a breeze, but it was still a nasty realization.

In any case, happy Valentine’s Day.  I hope someone bought each and every one of you some nice flowers, marked up to a ridiculous price.

  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 3.2s

The Bees of Spring

It may be basic, but when you think about macro photography, the first thing you think… bugs, right?  Other than the fact that they move and they’re hard to control, especially outside, there is good reason.  Here’s my bumblebee:

Bumblebee macro picture

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Taken: 28 June, 2008
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

With my 100mm macro lens, things get really big, if you can get close enough.  While this is great, it also means you have a pretty darn shallow depth of field, which means that your bee looks more like this:

Macro Bumblebee picture with focus on the wings

Nice bee wings but I was going for a full-bee type of thing.  Anyway, getting distracted.  Cameras these days are pretty darn good – my 3-generation-old Digital Rebel XT still leaves plenty of room for cropping, which is what I did on the picture above to give it just about the same look as the closer picture below.  I guess the parting thought is that although it is always good to try and shoot what you want to end up with, sometimes cropping is a useful tool.  Want a little tip?  Hit the jump.

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  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

A Storm of Pink?

When you see the fields of tulips, looking out over all the different colors is pretty nice, but some of my favorite pictures were down close with just one color.  Pink works pretty well.

Pink Tulip Field in Skagit County 2009

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Credit: Ari Brown
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Taken: 25 April, 2009
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

This one comes from my 100 mm macro lens.  I love the shallow depth of field, which devolves into solid pink.  On the Digital Rebel XT I shoot with, you’ve got to multiply the focal length by 1.6, so I have a 160mm lens which means I was probably 5 feet back from the flower in question.  With overcast sun shooting at ISO 200, you still have plenty of light to freeze any movement in the breeze, but late in the day or inside, this isn’t the perfect lens for hand-held shooting.  Sometimes it’s nice to try to figure out what else you can do with the lenses you have.  Macros are great up close, but that’s not all they can do.

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

Spring Still Springing

Seattle in Spring is a fickle place to be.  Just weeks ago it was snow – far too much.  Now it is rain, even as the days get longer.  Spring is somewhere, I’m sure, because the flowers are coming everywhere you look.

Rosemary flowers at the start of spring

  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Credit: Ari Brown
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Taken: 26 February, 2009
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

This is from my wanderings a couple weeks ago.  Some of my favorite flowers are one the plants that you don’t think of as flowers.  Rosemary is almost as rampant as blackberries in my area of Capitol Hill, so it’s hard not to find.  The tiny flowers are pretty neat though, especially in macro!

  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

Depth Of Field – Instruction-o-rama!

I’ll just say this up front – for a lot of people, this is really elementary stuff.  Every photo class I’ve ever taken, for the first or second assignment, did something with DoF (depth of field).  In any case, I was playing around and just happened to end up with some pictures that demonstrate it well, so I’m posting here.  Someone said they liked this stuff before.  We’ll see what you think.

African Violet taken at f/2.8Wanna learn all about it, or just see some purdy pictures?  Click the link:

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s

Gonna get really elementary on you for a second.  Depth of Field is controlled by your aperture.  The aperture is a hole that lets light reach your sensor or film.  A big number means a tiny hole.  A small number means a big hole.  Lenses that are referred to as “fast” are lenses that are capable of really opening up the aperture wide, to let a lot of light in fast, which allows the “fast” capture of a picture, even in low light.  My 100mm macro lens, which I took these pictures with, has an aperture (or f-stop) that goes up to f/2.8.  Not bad.

Alright – got that out of the way.  Here comes the DoF.  The larger the aperture, the deeper the Depth of Field.  Sometimes that is good.  If you’re taking a picture of a few rows of people, you probably want them all in focus, right?  Well I’m not taking pictures of lots of people – I’m taking pictures of a flower today.  Isn’t it purdy?  It’s the one African Violet that somehow I’ve never killed and my cats have never succeeded in eating.  Furry leaves don’t go down so easy.  Enough of that – picture stuff.  Shallow DoF is useful more often than you’d think.  If you take a look at that picture above, there is a nice flower, right?  What there isn’t is much in the background.  That’s because I used a really wide aperture (2.8) which blurs most everything else out.  It doesn’t even keep the entire flower in focus, but I like the look, so good.   Let’s try it with a smaller aperture:

African Violet, taken with 5.6 Aperture

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s

Here we are at 5.6.  That’s 6 clicks down on this lens from 2.8 and gives us a little more DoF, as you can see.  The flower is a bit more in-focus and the background is much clearer.  This smaller aperture also means that you have a slower shutter speed to account for less light coming in.  Keeping this lens still is pretty hard when you’re up close like this, so I’m using a monopod.  It helps a bit.  Six stops didn’t make that big of a difference, right?  Let’s go all craz and crank the aperture WAY down:

African Violet with an aperture of f/32

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s

This is with an aperture of 32.  That’s a LOT smaller than 5.6.  15 clicks.  What is going on with the picture?  Well obviously I was too lazy to get the tripod out and instead of 1/25th of a second (for the first picture) or 1/5th second (second picture), the exposure time here is 8 seconds.  But it doesn’t matter right?  Because the point wasn’t to frame this and put it on your wall – it was to look at the DoF.  Clearly the camera is shaking a bit, but otherwise, the flower is entirely in focus.  Look behind it.  See that red candy bowl?  That’s in focus too.  Do you want to see the candy bowl?   Well f/32 might be the aperture for you.  If you were maybe more into looking at the flower, f/2.8 might be better.  The point is, you can control this stuff.  Not all lenses can go as low as f/2.8, but f/5.6 is very common, even on a pretty cheap lens, and that same lens can most likely do f/32 as well.  In order to control for DoF like this, you’ll want to set your camera to Av  or Aperture Priority mode.  Some cameras even have a nifty DoF mode, but that’s between you and your hardware.   In Av mode, you can select the aperture setting you like and the camera will pick the correct shutter speed to go with it.  This is probably the second most common mode I use on my camera.  Ooh… one last comment – DoF at any setting is deeper the further away you are from the lens.  My flower above may be less than an inch deep, but since it was very close to the camera, it’s still not totally in focus close up.  If I shot it sitting a few feet back at the same setting, it would all be in focus.  Just something to think about.

Got any good DoF pictures of your own?  Link to ’em below.

Update 2018.07.02: The folks over at PhotographyTalk reached out to me with their own tutorial on the subject.  It’s pretty good and also goes over the various other priority modes on your camera.  Give it a look: https://www.photographytalk.com/beginner-photography-tips/7356-a-beginner-s-guide-to-aperture-and-depth-of-field

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s

Happy Valentine's Day

Wooden Heart Carved Into a Railing

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Taken: 12 February, 2009
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

I used to really hate Valentine’s Day.  Now I just kinda dislike it.  Only on this day is a romantic gesture seen as compulsory instead of… well… romantic. Even so, it’s a good reminder – do something nice for yourself or someone else. You can do it tomorrow too, if you wanna rebel against the system. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

King Cobra

King Cobra

When it was too cold to do anything else, I went to the Zoo. I might have been the only one who thought it was a good idea because in three hours I saw maybe 5 other people. Lot of animals were surprisingly off display – maybe Africa in the snow should have been my first clue. It was a good day to shoot though – no crowds to shoot around and as some of my favorite stuff isn’t even alive, it didn’t matter how cold it was. I did see some animals though, and it made me reconsider what I was there for. While most animals don’t want you getting too close, some don’t mind. This King Cobra was right up against the glass. He knew I was there and didn’t care a bit. The whole “not moving much” part was nice too.
  • ApertureValue: f/2.8
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 15:37:08
  • ExposureTime: 1/5 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 200
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

More macro, minus the tools

So this morning I thought it would be a great idea to upgrade to the newest version of WordPress.  While it works great, my fancy photo plugin is now broken, so consider this one freestyle.

My friend Charlie has these neighbors.  It’s not so much that they’re crazy, in a medically-diagnosed kinda way, but they sure don’t like throwing things out.  The yard is full of tarp-covered “finds” – it’s all very great depression.  In any case, they also have a great little chain-link fence out front, which they decided to decorate.  With bread tags.  To each his own, right?  Back to the photography.

Breadtag-fence

This one is shot with the same macro lens, but for a different reason.  I really like the blurry look – there is a lot going on in the frame and blurring out most of it makes me happy, which this lens is great at.  The photo snobs call that “bokeh”, which loosely translates from it’s Japanese origins to “some stuff is blurry and some stuff isn’t”.  Anyway, here it is.

  • ApertureValue: f/5.6
  • DateTimedigitized: 2008:06:28 13:15:00
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • ShutterSpeedValue: 1/500 sec
  • WhiteBalance: 0
    • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
    • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
    • Focal length: 100mm
    • ISO: 200
    • Shutter speed: 1/500s