New to macro, please critique

August 15th, 2022
I bought a macro lens for the third time... the first two times I got frustrated quickly and gave up.

I took my new lens out to the park today and spent over an hour trying to get a nice shot of the bees which were out in full force today! I got this one which I'm pretty happy with, but I know it could be improved - in some ways, I'm aware of (I wish its "sucker" was visible, and its leg wasn't covered by the a piece of the flower... and that the hair on the top of its body were in focus), and in others I'm sure I'm not!

I'd love any critique, thank you!

August 15th, 2022
Its a fine shot, there is such a frustratingly shallow depth of field doing macro this close up isn't there. As long as the eye is in focus you are good, then think about your angle, trying to be straight on to either the face or the side of the bee so the focus plane gets what you want in focus. there will always be compromise.
August 15th, 2022
@kali66 Darn! I really thought I'd managed to get the eye in focus in this shot - and I liked that the legs seemed in-focus enough to reflect the soft light the clouds were casting.

The shallow DoF was definitely frustrating! I took ~1,000 shots and thought this was the best out of 13 roughly in-focus candidates I got.

This was taken at f/8. I wanted to push it to f/11 or even further but I was running out of ISO headroom (1600). I pushed the ISO higher and felt the noise was too much, causing the image to look soft.

I landed on a shutter speed of 1/500 after trying 1/250. The bees were very active and again I was getting soft edges. I wonder if something like 1/320 would've been successful, giving me a tad more aperture to work with.

I actually had a flash with me too which I intended to use in order to increase my aperture... but the batteries died very quickly and I didn't bring extras. (Facepalm! Another lesson learned.)

All that said, I'm hopeful that with a little more practice I can do a better job of matching my focal plane to the subject. I underestimated how tough this would be while the subject is moving.
August 15th, 2022
Well done on capturing him I agree with @kali especially about the shallow depth of field, I am rather distracted by the blossom in front of the bee. The eye, however, is a different story it draws me in and I would like to see it in even more detail. I wonder if in post-processing you could experiment with adding some vignetting so the blossom is not so distracting?
August 15th, 2022
I too get a bit frustrated with macro (mine is a 60mm - and wished I'd saved up for a more expensive one) as I find trying to get very close I get the same issues you do. My camera can take quick successive shots at different apertures on auto mode so that you can stack them in software....I've not got the software....but I should imagine with a bee not keeping still that method wouldn't work anyway.
August 15th, 2022
I think it’s well done. They move too much to get every part in the shot. The near parts are beautifully in focus and macro just has a very small dof. I think the shots is beautiful. Try flowers if you want all the parts to show, but they too have a surprising amount of depth that is hard to capture. I think to conquer that, you need bracketing.
August 16th, 2022
you did get the eye in focus!
August 16th, 2022
i get a similar success rate when i do macro, i think its just part of the challenge of it, 1/500 is needed for fast moving insects if you want sharpness, for sure try the flash.
August 16th, 2022
i love the way you caught the front leg cupping the flower so the bee can get right in there, that kind of surprising detail is the joy of macro for me
August 16th, 2022
I heard that some photographers capture their subject and freeze them so they (the bees and such) are easier to work with. I am not all that bothered by the shallow DoF but perhaps if there were less underneath the flower in the left corner of the frame.
August 16th, 2022
Wow, thanks for all the feedback! I did try focus stacking with a photo of a rose the day before - it's a nice trick but I agree it probably wouldn't work well with the moving bees!

I have heard of photographers who cool down the bugs to slow them but I am worried about hurting them. I prefer the frustration and serendipity of trying to capture them as they are in their environment :)

@kali66 As far as flash goes, do you have any tips? I'm thinking about trying one of those Pringles can snoots. Before the batteries died I was having my assistant (i.e. my very kind girlfriend) try to shoot a speedlight through a circular diffuser but I'm not sure that it was actually close enough / bright enough to make much of a difference. And it was very hard to try to coordinate her, the bugs, and the camera...
August 16th, 2022
All I can suggest is try, try again John. Some years ago I read an article about Alan McFadyen who was after the perfect photo of a Kingfisher. After 6 years, 4,200 hours, and 720,000 photos he got his shot.

https://www.boredpanda.com/perfect-kingfisher-dive-photo-wildlife-photography-alan-mcfadyen/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

I'm sure it won't take you that long but you get the idea.

Here is an article on increasing your DoF while using a macro lens.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/the-challenge-of-depth-of-field-in-macro-or-close-up-photography#:~:text=Controlling%20Macro%20DOF%3A%20Aperture,aperture%2C%20the%20greater%20the%20DOF.
August 16th, 2022
Sorry i dont have flash tips, i have only ever used onboard flash on auto
August 16th, 2022
First off, it’s a beautiful image. I agree with @alsop that.a little bit of vignette could be good, but keep it subtle. I wish I had an answer on the DOF issue. That’s what drives me away from macro, or limits my macro experiments to static subjects where I can get silly with tiny apertures.
Write a Reply
Sign up for a free account or Sign in to post a comment.