Saturday, May 12, 2012


I am taking (actually re-taking) a class in macro photography through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Continuing Education.  These classes are informal opportunities to pick up some knowledge in specific areas as well as to meet and compare notes with other amateur photographers.  One of our tasks in the class was to submit some macro photography shots, and I thought I would post some of them to my blog.

This shot below is of an early hosta at Ziedler Park in downtown Milwaukee where our class convened as a "field trip."

I felt that I wanted to maintain a good focus throughout this shot, even though the plant had a lot of vertical depth, so I set my aperture at f/40 to maximize depth of field.  In post production I could have brightened the center to reveal detail, but decided I wanted to leave it dark to emphasize the depth of the plant.  I also chose to place the center of the plant in the middle of the image and to tuck the point of the leaf into the lower left corner.

We were not limited to the photos we took on the field trip, so I also paid another visit to the Mitchell Domes.  The following shot of a desert plant was one of my favorites.

One of the points I am learning from the class relates to the question of how much to try to put into good focus.  In the case of the above shot, only three of the blossoms are in good focus; the rest are out of focus.  However, an attempt to bring all of the blossoms into focus might have created a lot of clutter in the background.  In addition, the blossoms in good focus draw the eye and serve as "models" for the ones that are not in focus.  I like this shot quite a lot, in part because of the soft quality of the natural light coming from the right.

Here is another shot from the Domes of a lily with colorful petals.  I was drawn to this flower because of the overlapping petals at the from of the blossom, but as I set up for the shot, I noticed the little "hairs" on the front edges of the petals.

This shot was taken at an aperture of f/11 and shows a lot of detail not just in the edges of the petals but also in the region below the edges.  Here is another shot at an aperture of f/5 that limits depth of field more or less to just the edges of the petals.

I submitted this second shot for the class, but in retrospect I think I like the first shot better.

I also decided to pay a visit to a nearby garden center that included a greenhouse filled with relatively exotic flowering plants.  I asked for and got permission to take some shots but still felt a little uncomfortable.  I will say that conditions were nearly perfect--ample light and zero wind.

The central stamen of this flower was really quite tall--perhaps six inches--and it would have been impractical to attempt to capture the entire flower, so I concentrated instead on just the center to feature the transition of color from primary red to primary yellow.  The focus on this shot is a little soft.

I also traveled to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in search of subject matter.  Here are a couple of shots from that visit.

I liked the way this shot turned out, as the light area in the upper left seems to be illuminating the vine, which was only about three inches long.  And here is a shot of a cluster of leaves that were just opening up.  I didn't notice until I got back home that the shot also included an ant on the lower leaf bud.

The upper leaves are in great focus, but the ant is a little "soft," as it is just a bit closer to the camera.

The Audubon center also includes some very old abandoned farm implements that I have shot before, so I went back to get another "rust" shot.

By taking this shot at a wide open aperture of f/4, the hole area is out of focus, creating some depth for the shot.

Here is a novelty shot of rain drops on the cover to the gas grill on our back deck.  I did not realize until I started working on this shot in post production that there is a fine-scale honeycomb texture in the surface of the cover's material.

A close look at the reflection in the drops, particularly the one in the lower right, reveals the leg of my tripod (and perhaps my head).

Finally, on a visit to Doctors Park, I took a shot of a relatively large low lying leaf that was being backlit by the morning sun.  Even though I took this shot at a very narrow aperture of f/51 and there did not appear to be any wind, this photo was not quite as sharp as I would have liked.  This was not a focus problem, as really no part of the image was in tack-sharp focus.  Perhaps there was some movement, in the leaf or the camera, during the long 1/3 second exposure.

Rather than abandoning the shot, which I liked from a compositional perspective, I turned it into a B&W and ramped up the contrast a bit.  This acted to disguise the soft focus without losing the compositional interest.  I placed this B&W at the top of this post.

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