Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Macro Fun | Part 4

If you missed my other four posts about experimenting with a Macro Lens, you can find them here, here, here, and here.

Some of my favorite Macro Lens photographs taken by other photographers are of water droplets. So, I decided to try my hand at a few. Of course I'm not really a morning person (plus I live in the middle of the desert), so I had to fake it a bit. Instead of getting up to find some morning dew, I just turned on the hose and sprayed some nearby weeds and trees!

I love the detail of the reflect in the water droplet here...


This photo was a bit of a whoops, as I was trying to focus in on the water droplet and obviously I ended up with the leaf in focus instead.  But, I was amazed at the detail that was visible in the veins of the leaf and decided to include it for that reason...


This is a water droplet on the hose. If you look closely you can see a reflection of our rental house upside down in the drop of water...


And FINALLY, flowers!!!...








And there you have it!  A week's worth of photos from my Macro Lens Experiment!

So, now the looming question is.... Would I want to own this lens? I have to admit that shooting with this lens was TONS of fun, and I wasn't ready to return it by the time my week was up. I could have easily spent another few weeks experimenting with it. I really do think that I would enjoy having a Macro Lens, and I can see myself getting a bit more into nature photography if I owned one. That being said, I'm not sure that I would opt to purchase this exact lens. I felt like the lens was fairly heavy (and I'm not a wimp when it comes to lenses!) and I think it made it harder to hold the lens steady because I was getting tired from holding the lens up. I also felt like the auto focus wasn't very useful, so the USM basically just added useless weight. I haven't done any research on the options of Macro Lenses available, but if I was going to purchase one I would probably opt for a lighter weight lens, possibly without auto focus.

As always, thanks for stopping by and viewing my photos!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Macro Fun | Part 3

If you missed my other three posts about experimenting with a Macro Lens, you can find them here, here and here.

When I took my Intro to Photography class, one of our first assignments was to photograph motion. I opted to take pictures of a dripping faucet for that assignment, and all things considered (like the fact that I still had no idea how to use my camera!) the photos didn't turn out half bad. I had a lot of fun taking those shots, and wanted to see what I could do with a faucet using the Macro Lens (and having a bit more knowledge under my belt about my camera).

Considering that I took all of these shots with a hand-held camera, I think they turned out pretty darn good.  I had a really hard time narrowing down my favorites so I've opted to include several different shots.  I just love how you can see the inverted faucet and water droplet reflected back inside of each of the droplets.  I used the flash for these images, and I like how you can see the star burst from the flash in some of the droplets, too...






So, what do you think? Can you pick a fav? I keep trying, but I just can't!

After playing with the water droplets, I decided to experiment with the lens and some random items around the house.  It was during this experiment that I really got a handle on the DOF of the lens.  Here are a few of the images:

The side of a quarter....


Instead of flower bouquets, the bridesmaids at our wedding carried bouquets of beads. The following two photos are close ups of those beads...



Lexi's eyelashes...


An apple...


And a plum...


I was going to take a series of extreme close-ups like the two above and hold a contest to guess what the images were, but sadly I ran out of time with the lens before I captured very many.  So, I just included a few here instead. Would you have known what they were if I hadn't told you?

Part 4 will be posted soon, so stop back by and you will FINALLY see some flower photos that I took with the Macro Lens.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Macro Fun | Part 2

If you missed my other two posts about experimenting with a Macro Lens, they can be found here and here.

The second thing on my agenda with the Macro Lens was to find some flowers and insects to photograph, so I decided to see what I could scout out near the Gila River.  Unfortunately, I didn't quite have the hang of the lens yet and most of the flower images didn't turn out so great.  I had read over and over again how small the DOF is with Macro Lenses, but I guess I just didn't believe it until I saw it for myself. When I saw the images on my computer, I was shocked to see that only a very tiny portion of each flower was in focus.

Luckily, I did a bit better with the bugs!  I was actually quite surprised by how many insects I saw while I was out shooting, and even more surprised by how many I had captured on the flowers I was photographing without even realizing that they were there (but they were out of focus, of course!).

These are my three favorite bug images:



I especially like this one...


I like all of the detail you can see in the wings above, and I am in love with the lighting!  I was shooting in the early afternoon, and the sun was out full force.  I don't normally shoot at that time of day, but I figured I was going to take advantage of the time I had with the lens.  I was rather surprised by how many of the images were keepers because of the lighting, instead of in spite of it.

After finishing near the river, I decided to take photos of a nearby cotton field.  I've been getting such a kick out of seeing them everywhere near our rental house.  I actually can't remember ever seeing a cotton field before, but that seems highly unlikely!  I lived in Mississippi for 3 1/2 years, for crying out loud.  It has to be physically impossible to live in Mississippi and never lay eyes on a cotton field, doesn't it?  But, I seriously can't recall ever seeing one in person before.

Confession Time: I have this serious bad habit of being so excited to get started photographing at a new location, that I'll fire off a few shots before I check my camera settings.  Then I'll rein myself in, and glance at the settings only to realize how insanely off they are.  You'd think after over/under exposing my first 2-3 images every time I shoot, I'd stop doing this but I never do.  I just can't seem to contain my excitement at whatever I'm about to photograph and just HAVE to capture a few shots instantly.

Shooting in the cotton field was no exception, and this next image is the first photograph I took.  It was (is) insanely overexposed, and it took a crazy amount of editing to bring it back under control.  It's not even 100% in focus, but there is something about the composition of the image, and area at the top of the cotton where the sun is so intense, that kept calling out to me and I just couldn't resist including it.  When I look at this photograph, I can picture the sun glinting off of miles of bright white cotton on a hot scorching day on a big Southern plantation.  I can picture the workers out picking the cotton, sweat rolling down their faces, and their baskets overflowing with billowy white puffs.  I guess you could say that it tells a story to me that makes the image come to life (which is quite odd considering I've never actually seen that scene anywhere except in other photographs)...

.  

I am sooo in love with this entire set of photos!  I love the glare of the bright afternoon sun on the white cotton.  I love the texture that just screams out from some of these images.  I think I could have stayed in that field shooting for hours if I'd had the time.  Instead of rambling on and on, saying the same thing about each photo, I'll just let the rest of them speak for themselves:








Admittedly, this isn't the best use of a Macro Lens, but I wanted to capture a little more of the entire cotton field and it was the lens that I had at my disposal...



I hope you'll come back to check out the photos coming up in Part 3! There are some fun ones that I can't wait to share with you!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Macro Fun | Part 1

If you missed my original post about shooting with a Macro Lens, you can find it here.

If I was smart, I would probably save these images for last. But my obsessive-compulsive need for things to exist in chronological order prevents me from doing that. Sooooo... I give to you my favorite images that I took with the Macro Lens that I rented, which just so happens to be the first set of photos that I took with the lens.

Again, if I was smart, I'd just wow you with the photographs and keep the method of how I took them a secret, but that's not how I roll. I'm all about sharing knowledge, and learning from others. Sooooo... the exact technique for how to take these photos can be found in Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure (p. 72-73 of the 3rd edition), if you're interested in giving it a try for yourself.  If you're not a photog, and you are just wondering what the heck you're looking at, these photos are taken of vegetable oil poured into a glass pan full of water, with a bright colored piece of clothing under the pan.

I've been waiting MONTHS to take these photos and I couldn't wait to give it a try the second I got my hands on the Macro Lens.  When I was viewing the images in my camera, I was a bit disappointed because I felt like they weren't turning out very well, but once I got them on computer and did a little editing on them I fell in love with them.









I hope you love them as much as I do! Stay tuned for more photos from my Macro Lens Experiment in Part 2.  (But don't get too disappointed when the rest of them are all of boring objects like flowers and insects. These really are the most fun of the bunch!)

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

BBL 2011-2012 | Rent a Macro Lens


#12 RENT A MACRO LENS AND EXPERIMENT WITH IT

Why did I include this on my Bucket List?

The main reason that I decided to include this on my Birthday Bucket List was because I wanted to experiment with a new area of photography that I hadn't tried before.  However, I was also interested in renting a Macro Lens because I wanted to compare it to my own lenses for nature and abstract photography.

Was the experience what I had hoped it would be?

I learned so much from experimenting with this lens!  First of all, it was a lot of fun to play with the lens and try new things with it that I have been wanting to do for a long time.  It was great because I found myself using manual focus instead of auto focus, which isn't the norm for me.  It was also good for me to use a fixed focal length lens, since all of the lenses I currently own are zoom lenses.  So, I'd have to say that the experience of using this lens was much better than I could have imagined.

The details...

Since moving to Phoenix, I feel like I've been insanely busy.  Now that the daylight hours are much shorter, I haven't been logging much time behind my camera.  That depresses me, and makes me feel guilty all at the same time.  This week I ended up having a little bit of extra free time, and decided that it would be a great to use that time to shoot.

I decided to rent the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM, for a few reasons.  The reviews I read claimed that it had great bokeh, which is something that will suck me in every time.  I also though that having a longer focal length might make it easier for me to shoot with since I wouldn't have to get quite so close to my subjects.  It seemed like a good transition from the lenses that I'm used to shooting with.

I adapted to the lens fairly quickly and by the second time I went out with it, I had the hang of using it.  I even had an easier time using manual focus than I expected.  (For those of you wondering, the lens does have an auto focus feature, I just preferred to use manual focus because the lens seemed to have a hard time focusing in on the smaller objects and watching the lens constantly focus in and out was bothering me.)  I actually felt like I was more limited by my imagination of what to photograph than by my ability to master the lens, which was the exact opposite from my experience with the Fish Eye Lens that I rented.

The hardest part of using this lens was the fact that I don't currently own a tripod.  Mine broke a few months ago, and I haven't made the time to replace it. So, all of the images I took with the Macro Lens were taken with a hand-held camera.  It added an additional challenge to using the lens, but it also was a good learning experience.  I had to pull out everything I've ever learned about how to stabilize the camera.  A few of my images aren't as in focus as they could have been using a tripod, but in general I'm really happy with the results of my images from the week.

I hope you'll stop back by over the next week or two to check out the photos from my Macro Lens Experiment!

Do you want to see my entire 2011-2012 Bucket List? You can find it here.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Self-Portrait | November 2011

November's self-portrait was taken near the Gila River outside of Phoenix, at the same place where some of my Fisheye Lens photos were taken.  The photo was taken with the Macro Lens that I rented to experiment with. (More on that soon!)

I had been toying with the idea of taking a reflection photo for this month's self-portrait but hadn't really decided what I wanted to do for sure yet.  I just knew that I wanted to use the rental lens for the portrait, since it represented the month for me, and I thought maybe it would be fun to include a photo of me behind the camera.

I wanted to see if I could find some flowers and insects along the river bank to photograph with the Macro, and Kevin came along for the ride. He was standing at the edge of the river skipping rocks, and as I turned around and looked at him, I caught the reflection of the river and the gorgeous blue sky behind me in his sunglasses. So, I raised my camera to my eye and fired off a few quick shots, and here you have it:


I have to admit that I really like this month's self-portrait and the spur of the moment shot probably turned out much better than it would have if I'd spent hours agonizing over it.

Did you miss some of my past self-portraits?  Clicking here will take you to all of my self-portrait blog posts. Clicking here will take you to my self-portrait Facebook album.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.
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