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Any tips on taking pictures of really small subjects


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#1 Digging in the Dirt

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:40 PM

Does anyone have any tips or tricks on how to photograph really small subjects like baby caterpillars.  I had a few eggs hatch on some fennel a few weeks ago, and every time I tried to take a picture of the caterpillars on the fennel, the camera would try to focus in on as many fennel leaves as it possibly could, ignoring the baby caterpillar right in front of the lens.

 

Then the camera must have thought that I was trying to take pictures of something on the ground, because it completely ignored the baby caterpillar and the fennel, and tried to focus in on items that were on the ground. 

 

So now I have great pictures of my mulch, some dried up leaves, and of course my fennel plant, but no pictures of my baby caterpillars...

 

Thanks.



#2 Dsmith74

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:09 PM

The problem is an autofocus camera doesn't know what exactly you're trying to shoot when it's on something thin or fine (like a twig or fennel leaf). 90% of the frame is dominated by the background, so it focuses on that. Depending on the camera, there are a few options that might help. 

 

Most point-and-shoot-type cameras can use either a single focus point (usually right in the middle of the screen) or several points. The latter is often the default setting, but the single point is better in the case you describe. Check your manual to see if you have that option, and how to change it. 

 

If your camera has a "macro" mode make sure you are using it. That tells the camera you are trying to shoot something very close, so if the caterpillar is close, and the background is relatively far away, it will hopefully be biased for focusing on the nearby object. 

 

Most cameras, even the less expensive ones, have some kind of manual focus feature. The problem is it can be difficult to find and use. But if it has it, you can use that to set the focus instead of letting the camera do it. 

 

Finally, a "cheat" I often use is a feature generally called "focus lock" or something like that. If you can get the camera to focus on something at about the right distance, you can push a button and lock the focus at that point until you take the picture. So, for example, you could focus on your hand or some other flat, even surface that the camera can easily focus on. Then hit the lock, and swing the camera over and position it at the same distance from the intended subject. Once in focus, take the pic. That's what I use on my iPhone (which has no manual focus feature). Even when I had my point-and-shoot cameras, I found that quicker and easier than trying to mess with the clunky autofocus. 



#3 Digging in the Dirt

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:13 PM

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly on my question about taking pictures of small subjects.  The camera we are using probably needs to be upgraded, but to be fair to the camera, I am trying to take a picture of something that is probably the size of a grain of rice (if they are that big) on a fennel plant.

 

I also don't have that much experience taking pictures, and for some reason, I can't seem to stay perfectly still when I take the picture (especially with the zoom on), so I assume most (if not all) of the blame lies with me.

 

Thanks for the suggestion of the "focus lock" button.  That feature sounds like it would really help me, so I am going to try to find our camera's manual to see if I can find anything on this feature.

 

Thanks again. 






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