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Most non-professional photographers typically take pictures at special events (weddings, graduations, birthdays, holidays), of family and friends, or when traveling on vacations. It's not as common for people to take pictures of ordinary scenes or objects. But once a person has discovered the joys of shooting digital macro shots, the once uninteresting, everyday objects suddenly become exciting new worlds to explore.

This lesson uses an Olympus C-5060 Zoom to demonstrate the ease and simplicity of taking Super Macro shots outdoors.

(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Using a sturdy tripod
  • Setting the camera to Manual Focus
  • Setting the closest distance between lens and subject
  • Setting the camera to Super Macro mode

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

    During the winter months here in New England, it's not unusual to experience bouts of freezing rain. While most people don't get too excited about such weather conditions, particularly when they have to drive somewhere, you'll find that outdoor photographers will be busy cleaning their lenses and getting ready to shoot the following day. After a day of freezing rain, the temperature will typically drop well below 32 degrees and all that water on the trees and bushes will freeze. When (and if) the sun reappears the next day, the ice can make for beautiful scenery, as it refracts light in every direction.

    Twenty four hours after such a day of freezing rain, I decided to take some digital macro shots of frozen tree branches to demonstrate how easy this process can be. Before going outside, I preset the White Balance to daylight and set the capture resolution to SHQ (for a more detailed look at these processes, check out the lessons entitled, "Using Digital White Balance Outdoors" and "Photo Resolution and Printing" located in the Digital section of Web Photo School).

    I walked out to an old apple tree, mounted the camera to a sturdy tripod next to an icy branch and pushed the tripod legs down into the snow to make sure the camera would be stable. I then turned on the camera and set the focusing mode to MF (manual focus) by pressing and holding down the Focusing button and turning the Jog dial until MF appeared in the LCD (figures 1 & 2).

    At this focusing setting, the closest the camera can be between its lens and its subject is 8 inches. I used the arrow keys on the back of the camera to focus on a small icicle hanging from a tree branch, approximately 8 inches away. To make sure there was ample contrast between the icicle and the background, I positioned the camera so that the relatively dark tree was in the background. I set the aperture to f/5.6 and took several shots at various shutter speeds until I arrived at a good exposure. This last shot was captured at 1/320th of a second (figures 3 & 4).

    Figure 5

    In the result shot, it is obvious that we are looking at an icicle hanging from a small branch, but unfortunately there is not a lot of detail to the shot and the composition is not that interesting. Fortunately, this camera can be set to Super Macro Manual Focus, which allows you to position the lens as close as 1 inch away from your subject. To choose this setting, set the focusing mode to Super Macro Manual Focus by pressing and holding down the Focusing button and turning the Jog dial until Super Macro Manual Focus appears in the LCD (figure 5).

    Again, use the arrow keys on the back of the camera to set your focal distance. Here, I set the focal distance to its shortest (3cm) and brought the camera in to approximately 1 inch away from the icicle. Keep in mind that when the camera is set to this focus setting, the lens becomes fixed and will not zoom in or out. Without any other changes to the camera, I took another shot (figures 6 & 7).

    Now we can make out many more details of the result shot. The tree in the background helps to create separation from the icicle and even the cracks in the icicle are apparent.

    Note also that while figure 7 is the full frame of the shot taken, it has also been reduced in size to fit on this screen. Below, we've made a crop of the image to give you an idea of how detailed this shot actually is. Click on Figure 8 to see a 1/1 section of this shot (figure 8).

    Figure 8

    The detail is even more amazing. Keep in mind that this section of the icicle is approximately 1/8 of an inch tall in actuality. Now you can see why taking macro shots is so fascinating. Shooting with the C-5060 Zoom literally allows you to experience spaces you wouldn't normally be able to see!

    Later that afternoon, the sky had cleared and the evening sun lit up the trees beautifully. I checked to see that the focus mode was still set to Super Macro Manual Focus, and using the same techniques as before, I took a few shots of some nearby branches facing west (figures 9 & 10).

    Be advised though: once you start shooting in digital macro mode, you may find it hard to stop. Not only will you be fascinated by the high quality results you'll get, you won't have to worry about the cost of buying and processing film!

    Equipment Used:
    You can click on the blue links below for more info.

      Recommended Links

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