Challenge 3: Macro lens
By the time we had devoured our cake it was approaching 3: 30pm. The gardens shut at 6pm, so it was time to focus on our third and final challenge – using a macro lens. For this challenge, Ian used a Sigma 1 50mm f/ 2.8 E X DG OS HSM macro lens. Telephoto macros provide a much larger working distance, meaning you can capture close- ups from fur ther away. They al so have a narrower field- of- view, so it is easier to capture attractive, diffused backdrops. However, they are technically more challenging to use, being heavier and more cumbersome; while focusing needs to be pinpoint accurate, as they only provide a ver y shallow depth- of- field. A macro is the best choice for close- up enthusiasts and Sigma are renowned for their high qualit y and affordable range.
Rosemoor is home to an area of woodland, where we noticed there was a large carpet of anemones. These are prett y little white flowers and Ian needed no encouragement to begin exploring with his newly- acquired macro. I encouraged a low, eye- level shooting angle to create the most natural and intimate result. I mentioned how I personally like to use out- of- focus vegetation and other nearby flowers in the foreground of my flower close- ups to effectively create a frame of beautifully diffused tone to help fur ther emphasise my chosen subject, or focal point. Ian took my guidance on board, lying prone on the ground and adopting an uncomfor table low shooting angle! Ian’s tripod wouldn’t allow him to set- up at ground level, so he again had to work hand- held, using his elbows to provide extra suppor t. He had to be careful not to squash flowers while selecting his viewpoint, but the advantage of using a tele- macro meant he could shoot from fur ther away and avoid any damage. A wide aper ture helped to provide a faster shutter speed to eliminate any camera or subject motion, while al so producing an attractively shallow depth- of- field – with this st yle of shot, you don’t want to record too much detail in recognisable focus, as it can prove a distraction and it begins to undermine the lovely ar tistic, painterly effect. When working with such a shallow depth- of- field – when the difference bet ween a sharp and unsharp image is just a few millimetres – it is advisable to take a burst of shots to guarantee at least one pin- sharp result. It is better to accept a degree of wastage, than return home to find that none of your shots were sharp.
Ian continued looking for subjects and taking shots as we began working our way back towards the car park. His eye was now tuned into looking for interesting and suitable miniature subjects, but with the garden about to close, we had to call it a day. And what a good session we’ d had. Ian’s memor y card was over flowing with great photographs, achieved using three ver y different pieces of specialist equipment. It just goes to show, whatever your budget or experience, great garden close- ups are well within your grasp.
4 1) Ian's tripod won't allow him to go low enough, so he lays prone on the ground. 2) Ian rests on his elbows, providing good support and minimising shake. 3) Checking the results on the camera's LCD. 4) Ian soon gets to grips with the macro lens – I had a job getting it back off him! 5) Ross and Ian take a break from shooting to assess the results at the end of the day.
Macro Marvel Ian's final image is one to be proud of – a wood anemone surrounded by diffused soft focus. Great job! Exposure: 1/ 640sec at f/ 2.8 ( ISO 100)