This evening’s meeting was a practical macro session presented by Sue Kane and Richard Harrison from Art by Camera based at Redhills Business Park, Penrith.
The emphasis of the evening was to show members the advantages and disadvantages of the various pieces of equipment that are available to use for macro photography. The unique insight into photographing everyday objects is to give a magnification effect to reveal what the human eye cannot see. In addition, it is a genre that can be used indoors on cold, wet winter’s evenings.
Sue and Richard worked in tandem; first of all they demonstrated the various tripods that are on the market. The overriding essential is to have a stable and firm tripod as any form of movement will impact hugely on a macro image causing blurring. When using a tripod it is important that the image stabilising button on the lens is switched off, then trying to avoid touching the camera whilst the shutter is activated. This can be done with a self timer setting on the camera, a remote cable release, an infra-red release or tethering of the camera to a computer via Lightroom.
The next piece of equipment required is a focusing rail allowing the camera to be moved forward by a millimetre at a time with an image taken after each movement; this gives a different focus point from the front to the back of the object and a series of images, starting with a minimum of three to sometimes over a hundred. These images are then photo-stacked and blended in software such as Adobe Photoshop to produce an image that is not only sharp from front to back but also at high magnification.
After ascertaining that the camera is motionless, the next important step is to ensure that the object you are photographing is also stationary. Whilst objects such as watches or rings can easily remain static, a flower for example might be affected by draughts or wind. One can then use a Plamp which is a gadget that can be clamped to the tripod and attached on the other end by a peg to hold the stem of the plant maintaining it stable, especially useful for cut stems. A fridge magnet clamp can be used for smaller specimens of plants.
The talk progressed to showing different lenses, telephoto, 60mm and 100mm prime lenses and the pros and cons of each were elucidated.
Furthermore, certain gadgets can be attached to the front of the lens, such as macro close up filters or attached to the back of the lens known as teleconverters, bellows, extension tubes or reversing rings where the lens is turned around to produced a magnified image. Of all the pieces of equipment shown it seemed that the prime lens along with either bellows or extension rings produced the best magnification without affecting the sharpness of the image.
Relatively speaking this was a genre that could be successfully attempted without too much outlay financially, which is certainly a bonus as camera equipment of any kind can be expensive.
There then followed a demonstration of image stacking and tethering of the camera to the computer.
Finally, there was time to use and handle some of the equipment on display. The first thing that became obvious was that a suspended wooden floor did not lend itself to macro photography as every time someone moved the camera began to shake.
Our next meeting is a members’ evening on 29th March 2017, which will be a short sets presentation from 10-12 members of the club. The society meets at 7.30 p.m. at the Methodist Church Hall on Southey Street. Non-members are welcome.