Through the Lens – Mike Moats

Through the Lens – Mike Moats

Photo By Mike Moats

 

5 Reasons You Should Shoot Macro

By Mike Moats

If you haven’t explored macro photography yet, you may want to take a closer look. 

Macro not only offers an expansive new world for photographers, but it allows you to take remarkable images without buying tons of equipment or traveling to exotic locales. In fact, you could probably photograph for years just in your own backyard. 

Here are my five favorite reasons for shooting macro:

Shooting close to home 

Macro subjects are everywhere. You can find them at local parks, in your own yard and even inside your home. I have four great parks within 20 minutes of my home, and probably 70 percent of my best images have been taken in those parks. A few of my best-selling images were shot in my own backyard. Most people have flower gardens in their yard, so they can simply walk outside and start shooting. This is not only incredibly convenient, but it saves you money on gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle. On top of that, you can do a shoot even if you have just an hour or two available. 

 

Photo By Mike Moats

 

You can shoot with just one lens 

Unlike some types of photography, you don’t need a whole arsenal of lenses to shoot macro. I got by with just one lens for seven years before I added another to my camera bag. If you are starting out as a macro photographer and limited on funds, a mid-range focal length lens like the Tamron 90mm will work great as an all-purpose lens. If you plan to shoot live subjects such as butterflies, dragonflies and other small critters that will flee if you approach too closely, go with a longer focal length macro lens in the 180mm range. Plan on shooting most images with your camera mounted on a sturdy tripod and ballhead.

 

 

 

Photo By Mike Moats

Shoot any time of day

Landscape and wildlife photographers have limited control over lighting and usually need to shoot early morning and late evening to take advantage of the best light. Because of the small subjects that macro photographers work with, we can control our light by using diffusers and reflectors, allowing us to shoot any time of the day. I carry a simple 12-inch diffuser, which I use to control harsh light and prevent overhead sunlight from hitting my subjects

 

 

Photo By Mike Moats

 

Enjoy more creativity 

One of the challenges faced by macro photographers is working with limited depth of field. Because we are shooting awfully close to our subjects, the depth of field is very shallow, causing lots of out-of-focus areas in our photos. The closer we get to the subject, the less of that subject will be in focus. But we can use this shallow depth of field to our advantage in creating artistic compositions. If you like soft-focus, dream-like images, try shooting in the lower f/stop range (with a wider aperture) and use this shallow depth of field to produce some beautiful artwork. If you have a subject that may have some interesting lines or textures that you want to accentuate, you can set your f/stop in the higher numbers (narrower aperture) and bring more of the images

 

 

Create your own personal art

This is one of my favorite benefits. Every image that you view on my website is an original. Each one is a subject that was present for only a moment in time, until nature or the environment erased them forever. Almost none of those images can be reproduced, because the subjects are gone or have changed. 

 

There are plenty of great reasons to give macro photography a try. Once you start exploring this world, you’ll begin finding your own.

 

Mike Moats is an international award-winning, full-time professional macro photographer from Michigan. He’s a Tamron Image Master, and his articles and images have been published in numerous photo magazines. He hosts a Macro Photo Club online with over 2,000 members from 18 countries, and teaches workshops and speaks at photo conferences throughout the United States. His website can be found at www.tinylandscapes.com.

Through the Lens – Rivers and Waterfalls

Through the Lens – Rivers and Waterfalls

By David Akoubian

I have always found solace in rivers and waterfalls. When I need to relax, listening to the sounds of water can be very calming. I grew up fishing and photographing the streams and rivers of North Georgia, and have continued to do so all my life. These days I photograph more than I fish, but the enjoyment is still as great.

When I set out to photograph rivers and waterfalls, I try to choose an overcast day to lessen the contrast in the scenes, and to expand my shooting hours. Because I don’t always know what my subjects will be, such as a large waterfall or detailed cascades, I pack both wide-angle and short telephoto lenses. My preferred lens for waterfalls is somewhere in the 17mm to 24mm range. For more detailed images, 50mm to 210mm usually gets the job done.

Photo by David Akoubian

I always bring a sturdy tripod, since many of my exposures are one second or longer. My tripod is also waterproof, so I can set up in the water. Other essentials for me are circular polarizers and neutral density filters. Circular polarizers reduce the glare and increase the saturation of any foliage in the frame. Neutral density filters simply reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor, thereby allowing me to use longer exposures. I like slow exposures for rivers and waterfalls, as they provide a silkier, softer look to moving water, and better capture the mood I feel when I visit a river. To avoid camera movement during long exposures, I recommend using a cable release, or at the very least, utilize the self-timer or shutter-delay capability of your camera.

For many of the rivers that I have visited previously, I tend to repeat compositions, which is a theme I have followed for many years. To achieve a different look to a familiar scene, I like to revisit places in every season. I live in a wide-angle world when I compose landscape images. By this, I mean I find a foreground object and then use the river as a leading line to either carry the viewer’s eye up the river or to a waterfall. That foreground subject can be almost anything — a log, a rock, or even a small plant. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry the image by itself, but sufficient to grab the viewer’s attention and let the leading lines of the river do the rest.

Photo by David Akoubian

My goal is to control the viewer’s attention from the second they see the image until they have arrived at the primary subject. That’s another reason for slow exposures; the air bubbles in the water become lines at about 1/15th of a second or slower, and grow even more pronounced with longer exposures. One second is my ideal shutter speed for most situations, but when necessary, I will throw on the neutral density filter to drag it out to 8, 15, 30 seconds or longer if I need to connect lines. I always use the circular polarizer turned to its maximum effect unless there is light reflecting on the water; then I simply turn it until it captures the beautiful reflections of light.

No matter why you visit rivers and waterfalls, photographing them can help share a part of yourself with your audience, and that’s a connection worth making.  In this time of social distancing, connecting with others who share or appreciate your vision is more important than ever. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep creating images.

David Akoubian has been a professional nature photographer for more than 25 years, spending much of that time photographing in his home state of Georgia. He is a Tamron Image Master and conducts numerous educational seminars and workshops across the country.
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