Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. ~A.A. Milne
The other morning, I was outside watering my cutting garden alongside the driveway. Because apparently Oklahoma decided that it is going to skip straight over Spring and go right into August.
Anyway, as I was standing there…coffee mug in one hand and hose sprayer in the other…I was noticing how all of my summer flowers were really starting to take off. Especially my coneflowers.
I love the color of this particular variety…somewhere between magenta and fuchsia it makes such a statement in my garden. And as I stood there admiring its regal color, that’s when I noticed the way the disk florets (the bright orange spiney parts) were arranged in an orderly spiral around the center of the flower.
But it’s not just any kind of spiral…these florets are arranged in a Fibonacci Spiral!!
Also known as the ‘Golden Spiral’, these circular arcs are a specific kind of logarithmic spiral which are actually quite common in nature – from the gigantic arms of spiral galaxies to the insides of the tiniest seashells. The Golden Spiral isn’t just represented in nature though…its elegant shape has been employed by some of the greatest artists of all time to achieve beauty, balance, and harmony in art and design.
Isn’t that amazing!
Wonders of nature = magic.
It’s little details like this that literally make me stop in my tracks and say, wow…isn’t that so neat!
If you are on the hunt for details, one of the easiest way to find them, photographically speaking, is with a macro lens (all of the images in this blog post were taken with my Canon f/2.8, 100mm macro lens). And as much as I love the ability to get up-close and personal with my garden flowers, I also find that shooting with my macro lens can be frustrating at times….which is mostly due to having a very difficult time getting tack-sharp focus where I want it.
My biggest issues are the wind (#okiephotogprobs) and camera shake. Which obviously there’s only one of those that I can do anything about. But the good news is that with regular practice over the years, I’ve gotten better at using my macro lens. And today I thought I would share with some of tips that really helped me with regards to the sharpness in my macro photography.
- Back-Button Focus (BBF): I have been utilizing this feature for a several years now, and it made a huge improvement in the sharpness of my overall photography, but I find that it is even more beneficial in macro photography. There is a great article at Clicking Moms that explains BBF in further detail, but simply put, BBF separates the shutter and focus functions of your camera. It’s ideal for moving subjects which is why it helps me with my macro photography. Keeping one finger on the BBF, I can press the shutter button whenever my subject comes into focus.
- Become a human tripod: I have a terrible time with keeping perfectly still when I’m shooting (especially in the morning after having a cup or three of coffee), so I always try to either A) bolster myself against a wall, fence, or other stationary object or B) keep one knee and/or elbow anchored on the ground. It also helps to keep your arms pulled in tight next to your body.
- Decrease aperture: Because macro lenses allow you to get so much closer to the subject, shooting with a very wide aperture setting creates an even more shallow depth of field than with a wider-angle lens. So by decreasing the aperture size (larger f/stop), more of the subject comes into focus, and I find that my camera will lock onto to my focal point and focus more quickly.
- Increase ISO: Related to aperture, since I know that camera shake is an issue for me, I find that having a shutter speed of at least 1/125th is crucial. Often times, that means I will need an ISO setting of 800 – 1600 to properly expose my images.
In the example above, notice the image on the left. Because of the breeze that night, the shutter speed of 1/100 sec wasn’t quite fast enough which is why the stamens appear blurred. In the image on the right however, I increased my ISO which allowed me to increase my shutter speed to 1/250 sec and thereby get an acceptably sharp image.