Unlike other genres of photography, macro photography allows you the most control. I find that backgrounds are just as critical to the success of a macro image as the subject itself. My first tip on getting closer was for circumstances where you couldn’t control the background. My second tip is to show you that in most cases, you can control the background and it is relatively easy! The butterfly image above was taken in Butterfly World in Coconut Creek Florida. There are thousands of live butterflies in the aviary with a great variety but many times the backgrounds are less than appealing. What to do in that situation? I will walk though the aviary looking for a location with a nice background and ignore almost everything else going on! Once I find a bloom that is isolated from the background I will patiently wait for a butterfly to land on it and fire away. Using this technique in the field will always make for stronger compositions, as cluttered background will often distract from the beauty of the main subject.
A zoom lens is a type of camera lens that is offers the photographer a useful range of different focal lengths in a single lens. This is in comparison to a prime lens, which only offers a single focal length. A zoom lens allows for quick and easy re-framing of a scene while staying in the same physical position. Sigma offers a line of over 20 zoom lenses for DSLR photographers, ranging from wide angle zoom lenses, supertelephoto zoom lenses, and high-zoom ratio all-in-one lenses for both full-frame (DG) and APS-C (DC) digital cameras.
The Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro EX DG OS HSM lens has become one of my favorite lenses for macro photography in the field. So what makes me reach for this lens when Sigma offers five macro lenses when I own all of them? The answer is balance- the 105mm lens is really good at everything and one of the best in terms image quality. This lens can give you the sharpest results possible with an excellent balance of size, weight, working distance at a very high value per dollar price.
When photographing flowers, people often make the common mistake of trying to capture the entire flower even when there are distracting or unwanted elements in the frame. In many cases an arboretum or flower show do not allow tripods either…so what is the solution? The simple answer is to get closer! You don’t need to see the entire bloom and foliage to get your point across and macro lenses are especially well suited for this task. The image above of the Gerber Daisy is a great example of this philosophy.
In 2011 I released my first children’s picture book, CURIOUS CRITTERS, which featured close-up photographs of twenty-one animals. All the shots were taken with Sigma gear. The book really took off with children and families across North America. Within four months we sold out. To-date, we’ve sold over 100,000 copies.
Photographing in the field in contrasty harsh light is something every photographer has to deal with. This is a technique that I use for those difficult high contrast situations. For a more natural looking image you need to take control of the light to handle the light and dark tones in a high contrast image.
It is important to understand the problem with high contrast scenes. Exposing for the light tones will cause the darker tones to underexpose and exposing for the darks will result in blown out highlights.
One of the biggest challenges with macro photography is working with a limited depth of field or DOF. When I am shooting macro I am always trying to make sure the subject and elements in the frame appear sharp by adjusting the aperture and making sure the important elements in image fall on the plane of focus by adjusting my angle of view. But there is another important element that has a huge effect on DOF that most people don’t even know about, how a different sensor format can and will effect the depth of field in your image. Moving to a smaller sensor format at the same apparent magnification will give you lots more DOF to work with in your macro images.
Judging by the number of questions I get from photographers concerning the working distances of macro lenses I think it is a good subject to talk about.
The working distance of a macro lens, not to be confused with minimum focus distance, is the distance between the front of your lens and the subject. This is different from the minimum focus distance which instead means the distance to the subject as measured from the focal plane mark on the camera body, not from the front of the lens. Working distance is a more important figure since it tells how much space you have between the front of your lens and your subject. Working distance generally increases with longer focal length lenses, shorter lenses usually have shorter working distances.
Spots where sand, sea, and sky come together offer certain challenges to photographers, but the results can be so amazingly rewarding. Conditions can change quickly as the sun hides behind a cloud, and conditions most certainly change slowly as the tides sink and rise and the sun and moon dance across the sky. The same patch of sea may be mirror calm and reflecting golden light, or it may be a churn of furious waves. Fogs, mists, and wind-whipped sand can make for gorgeous images even as they fool camera meters. There’s a world of possibilities waiting to be captured along these edges, whenever you visit, and with whatever Sigma lens you’ve got in your bag.