Tag Archives: NSW

Macro Photography Without a Macro Lens

It has been a long time since I shot a macro image, and in all honesty, I am not a great macro photographer.

In 2017, I sold my macro lens, as I was making changes to my gear lineup, and it was a lens that was rarely used, and did not really suit my wants or needs any more.

However, occasionally arises an opportunity to shoot a pleasing macro image.

Late yesterday afternoon when we were outside in the rear yard, I noticed some appealing water droplets on the garden nasturtium.

The weather lately has been cold, wet, foggy and rainy, and this morning, the glimmer of the water droplets on the leaves presented an opportunity that I did not want to miss.

It can be hard to motivate oneself to pursue photography sometimes, but in this case, the effort level required was minimal.

The problem, however, is that I wanted to shoot a macro image, but I do not have a macro lens.

Despite that, I captured this image:

Morning Dew

Morning Dew

It is not a true macro image, but it is decent enough and pleasing to me.

So, how did I capture this image?

Firstly, I selected my Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens.  This is an outstanding telephoto lens I have had for nearly 14 years.  It is tack-sharp, and it has a short minimum focus distance of around 90cm, which makes it ideal for frame-filling images.

It is certainly not a macro lens, but its moderate telephoto focal length, short minimum focus distance and the fact that it is compatible with Canon’s telephoto extenders meant that I could attach it to my Canon Extender EF 2x II to increase the focal length to 270mm and shoot from a close distance relative to that focal length.

While I would have preferred to use an actual macro lens, I was still able to achieve a pleasing image, in which the composition allowed me to depict not only the main water droplet which served as the focal point, but also the surrounding water droplets, which added to the story and created interest beyond just the largest water droplet.

Inspiration does not come along very often; but today it did, and I improvised with my existing equipment, which was sufficient to create a pleasing semi-macro image without having access to an actual macro lens.

Inspiration combined with improvisation can yield pleasing images.

Third Visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park

Welcome to 2020.

Early into the year, we made a third visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park, this time with some family members who had come to visit and stay with us for a few weeks.  It was their first time to the park, and they enjoyed it immensely.

On previous visits, I have been able to capture some pleasing images of the animals there, and it was no different this time.

On this visit, the sky was nice and overcast, which made for very pleasing shooting conditions, as the light was soft and even, and there were no harsh highlights or glary conditions with which to contend.

When first entering the park, one is greeted with the red-necked pademelons, amongst other marsupials.  These little critters are very cute, and I took the opportunity to pet and feed them, as well as photograph them.

Cute Critter

Cute Critter

Early into this visit, a striking and richly coloured golden pheasant was perched in a good location, so I captured numerous images of this bird, which is adorned with intense red, blue and yellow plumage.

Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant

Because we arrived at Featherdale Wildlife Park when it opened for the day, being able to shoot in the lower, overcast light in the early morning required much higher ISO ratings than usual.

Nothing screams cuteness more than a koala, one of Australia‘s unique animals.

Koala Cuteness

Koala Cuteness

Sadly, during the horrific Australian bushfires in the summer of 20192020, many wild koalas perished, and the population has shrunk to dangerously low levels.

This little creature is fortunate, in that he lives in Featherdale Wildlife Park, and does not have to contend with bushfires and drought.

Every time we visit, I always take the opportunity to photograph the penguins.

It is always a challenging exercise, as penguins tend to be highly active, and often flock together, so isolating one bird for a clean portrait is a game of patience and quick reaction once the moment is right.

Portrait of a Little Penguin

Portrait of a Little Penguin

There are many more animals to see and photograph at Featherdale Wildlife Park, and I am sure we will visit again.

How Large is the Moon in a Photograph?

During the early morning of Saturday, 28 July, 2018, a special celestial event was to occur: a total lunar eclipse, resulting in a red moon — one like this:

Red Moon

Red Moon

I captured this particular red moon on 28 August, 2007.  Incidentally, it was the first and last red moon I captured!

For the most recent total lunar eclipse, I planned to rise early and capture the moon.

Unfortunately, due to cloud, I barely caught a glimpse of it, so no images were forthcoming.

The night before, however, I captured some images of the rising full moon in the early evening.

Now, there are different ways of photographing the moon.

Some people like to place the moon in the context of a broader scene, depicting trees, city architecture, animals or people.

Other people like to capture the moon in and of itself, with a view to depicting as much detail as possible.

I have historically fitted into the latter category, and I have photographed the moon numerous times with it being the only subject.

Naturally, when using only DSLR equipment and no telescopes or other space observation equipment, I like to use the longest focal length possible so that the moon in all its glory is more prominent, and therefore larger in dimension.

The maximum focal length I can achieve is 1,120mm by attaching both a 2x tele-converter and a 1.4x tele-converter to my 400mm lens.

People often wonder which focal lengths to use for capturing the moon.

Which focal length to use depends on the kind of image desired.  In my case, I want as long a focal length as possible.

Once a focal length has been decided, the next question is as follows:

How large will the moon appear in my image?

The answer is that it depends on several factors; namely:

  1. the focal length;
  2. whether the camera is a full-frame, APS-C or APS-H model (the latter two of which crop the view a full-frame lens natively provides on a full-frame camera); and
  3. the distance between the moon and the earth.

The short answer is that the moon is not very large relative to the frame.

If an APS-C camera is used, there is a distinct advantage, as the moon will appear larger relative to the frame than it would when captured with a full-frame camera.

In my case, I have only full-frame DSLR cameras.

Today I decided to explore and compare the size of the moon relative to my camera’s frame size, when shot at different focal lengths.

The night before the total lunar eclipse, I went outside to capture some test images.  I happened to capture images at both 1,120mm and 800mm.

Both focal lengths are considered extreme super-telephoto focal lengths in the DSLR world, but there is a surprising difference between them.

In both cases, the moon is not very large, relative to the frame.

I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which produces a native image size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px).

Let us take a look at how many times the moon can fit into that frame size when captured at the two focal lengths I used.

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27 July, 2018 at 17:50, using a focal length of 1,120mm.

The moon, when captured at 1,120mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,751 x 1,741px (3,048,491px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 10.1% of the frame.

Equipment used:

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27/07/2018 at 17:54:19, using a focal length of 800mm.

The moon, when captured at 800mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,267 x 1,258px (1,593,886px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 5.3% of the frame.

Equipment used:

As can be seen, despite using long focal lengths on a full-frame DSLR, the moon is still relatively small within the frame.

Here are those key figures again:

In this case, the size of the moon nearly doubled with the use of a longer focal length, despite that focal length not being twice the size of the shorter focal length.

It is not quite an exact science, particularly when considering that the image shot with the 800mm focal length was captured just over four minutes later, by which time the moon had risen marginally higher; but it is a substantial difference.

In both cases, while the moon does not dominate the frame, it is certainly large enough to show very pleasing details.

Photographers desiring even more prominence and detail would be likely to attach the camera to a telescope, but if, like myself, a photographer does not have a telescope, but does have long focal lengths, a very pleasing result is certainly possible.