Learn a Mode Monday – Digital Macro Photography
Welcome to the first ever Learn a Mode Monday – my new mini-series on learning all about one of those little icons on your camera! Today we are all about that little flower on your mode dial i.e. Digital Macro Mode. This is absolutely one of my favorite modes for really making Wow Pictures and one of the easiest skills to acquire in beginners photography. Want to capture that ickle bumblebee sitting on the azalea bloom? How about getting that close-up of the detail on your wedding dress? Digital macro photography is what you need to master!
1. First find your subject – something small like a bee, a bloom, a coin – anything tiny.
2. If you are indoors switch off your flash as it will only bounce back off your subject and the picture will appear blown out. If you do this you will most likely need to use a tripod or have a very steady hand! Best option – head outdoors into natural daylight.
3. Next, find the Macro Mode on your camera – it’s usually an icon of a little flower something like this :
4. Position your subject so it is well lit and that you are not casting your own shadow over it. Opt for a plain background if you have the choice, something with little or no distractions in it.
5. Rather than using your zoom to get closer to your subject, leave your lens at it’s widest setting and physically move yourself closer to your subject until you have filled the frame with your subject.
6. Slightly depress your shutter button so that your camera finds it’s focus. If you can’t focus, move slightly back and retry. Repeat this process until your camera allows you to take a sharp, in-focus shot.
7. Bingo! You’ve managed to capture the full beauty of that tiny, little flower Well done!
It may take you a while to get the hang of this process but once you do you will be hooked. Ask my mother in law – She turned from a photography novice to a real pro at taking macro shots all over the Costa Rica rain forest!
Please post your best Macro shots below with any questions or just to show off!
Bonus Tip: Compact cameras are usually way better at getting close up macro shots than DSLRs. If you have a DSLR, and you want to do lots of specific Digital Macro Photography you’ll need to invest in a good macro lens such the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon users or the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR for Nikon users.
If you’re just trying to get the best digital macro shot check out the new Powershot G12 from Canon. It will allow you to get super close ups with a closest focusing distance of you a mere 1cm.
For more Learn a Mode Tutorials from Ingrid click here
White Balance – Learn a Mode Mode Monday
What is White Balance?
The White Balance setting (WB) on our digital camera controls the overall color cast of the image. The reason why there may be a color cast on our pictures is because this is the way that digital cameras react to light temperature.
Every light source- the sun, light filtered through clouds, a bulb inside or florescent all have a different light temperature. And each temperature results in a different color hue. Our eyes naturally filter out these color differences and in most cases all light appears the same.
Digital cameras however do see the differences in different light temperatures and hence different “colors” of light. The White Balance setting adjusts to counteract these color casts.
Just use Auto White Balance?
In most cases our camera’s Auto White Balance does a pretty good job at setting this mode correctly, however in some scenarios we are going to have to adjust this setting manually. This is especially true if we are shooting without flash and in a particularly unusual lighting situation.
Here are some pictures I took without flash to demonstrate. My subject’s dress is supposed to be snowy white:
As you can see in the first picture, by leaving the camera’s White Balance setting to Auto, the light inside gives an overall yellow hue or cast to the picture.
In the second picture I changed my White Balance setting to compensate for this by changing the WB to Tungsten – Much better and definitely more realistic!
You can experiment with the White Balance Setting on your camera. Look for the WB symbol either on the back of your camera as a shortcut button or in the functions menu.
Most types of light are preset for you there
Tungsten (which just means a regular bulb)
Check your camera manual so that you can decipher the WB icons and play around with the settings to see the different effects that you get. This works best if you take a series of the same shot, especially if your subject includes something white so that the effect is really obvious and shoot without flash.
You’ll see how by changing this one small setting on your camera you can achieve very different results.
Continuous Shooting Mode – Learn a Mode Monday
For today’s Learn a Mode Monday I thought I’d try something a little different and post a video of how to use your continuous shooting mode. This mode is perfect for capturing fast moving subjects like wildlife, athletes and 11 month old babies!
Check it out and let me know your thoughts!
- So remember, for shooting fast moving objects look for your camera’s Continuous Shooting Mode button
- Keep your finger fully depressed on the shutter button and capture all that action!
A great way to use up an entire memory card
Black and White Photography
At a family gathering this weekend I was reminded of the beauty of black and white photography. Instead of the usual family snapshots of people posing , fakey smiles and bright colors, our efforts were rewarded with a set of timeless pictures where we are not distracted by fashion or fads and the true personalities of our subjects can shine. A lot of times we forget how beautiful Black and White can be, choosing instead the “reality” of color. I have to be honest and say that in the past I’ve kept Black and White for Lansdcapes and Scenery and the odd posed portrait shot. So think about using this mode for an unusual twist on what could otherwise be another set of snaphots.
Black and White mode can be found on most cameras within the scene mode menu. Look for BW icon or a color mode. I feel it works best in situations where you can forgo flash so if your inside, turn off your flash and push up your ISO to 400 or 800.
If you’d prefer you can desaturate the color from your images after they have been taken by using a photo manipulation program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Picasa 3. This will certainly give you more control over the black and white effect you apply but can sometimes be quite laborious if you have several shots to work on.