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Old 10th September 2013
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timmypreston timmypreston is offline
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Macro photography using the 70-300 with EC14 and 35mm

I have been asked a lot recently about my Macro shots so it thought I would devise this thread. I am no expert, its just what I do to get my shots.

These are all hand held. I have tried tripods and monopods but by the time I get into position or have set up the tripod the subjects have gone.

The pictures in this thread are taken with two different lenses, the 70-300 with an EC14 on an E400 and the others with a 35mm on a E420.

Both lenses have their advantages/disadvantages. The 70-300 with the EC14 is a superb lens for longer distance bugs and can produce a very good macro image from 15-20 feet away.


Four Spot Chaser Albrighton 16072013 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

It is also a very versatile set up for many situations. I have had great success with the combo on Motorsport, Wildlife, Flora, Aviation and Birding. The disadvantage on Macro is that you are almost always shooting at full focal length so camera shake is unavoidable. If you incorporate this with the slightest of breeze or a tiny movement by the subject you are going to lose detail. Cropping will be required though and you will never get the same detail as the 35mm. I only use this combo on the sunniest of days with no breeze for Macro work.

The 35mm is undoubtedly the best lens I have bought and it gets masses of use, not just for Macro but I have used it for portraiture, landscapes and slower shutter motorsport with excellent results. This is the lens I would recommend if you are looking to do out and out macro work. I wouldn’t use a working distance of any more than 24-30 inches though. The results astound me and it has given me a whole new appreciation of smaller wildlife. I have a new found love for Wasps because they are such fascinating subjects and I will quite happily let them wander over my hand now. Some say the working distance is poor but I have never had an issue personally. The disadvantage would have to be the focal field you have to work with, it is very narrow.

eg;

Common Wasp Dothill Pool 07082013 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

However it does widen the further away from your subject that you are. Just no room for error when in tight.

Peacock Butterflies feed in glorious sunshine Explored! by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

Top Tips though;
If it’s windy don’t bother. I never even attempt Macro now if there is a minimal breeze. When you are working with tiny subjects the slightest movement is huge in comparison to their body size.

Stability, don’t move, sway or shake. This was the hardest thing for me to master. Even consider your breathing. I find I am more stable whilst exhaling than I am inhaling. It seems trivial but it made a big difference to my final results.

Flash, I use it quite a lot. I seem to get better results. Just be aware of glare on things like Ladybirds, snails or beetles.

Know your subject. Watch what they do for a while, let them get used to your presence. Don’t dive in straight away and always approach with your camera always to your eye, pre-raised. I used to get near then raise the camera, I spooked so many butterflies and dragonflies doing this. Watch your camera strap too, that jiggling around spooks subjects easily.

When you find a bug take a few pictures not just one I always take half a dozen of each subject. A front or side view always seems to be more interesting than one from above but that is my opinion.

Watch your shadow, never cast a shadow on your subject, it will flee. Butterflies particularly.

You don’t have to get right on top of things though, the image quality is that good from the 35mm you can crop quite heavily.

Eg

Toad in the Grass 2 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr


Toad in the Grass 3 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr


Large White Butterfly Shawbury Heath 30072013 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr


Large White Butterfly close Shawbury Heath 30072013 by Tim J Preston, on Flickr

With regard to manual or autofocus it very much depends on how I am feeling on that day. I probably use AF more.

Hope this helps some. The movement issue was the biggest single issue for me.
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Tim

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33153464@N07/
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