Tag Archive | close-up

A wider view of Ammophila


A “normal” focal length of 27 mm (about equivalent to 43 mm on full frame, so a tiny bit on the wide side).


A focal length of 39 mm (about equivalent to 62.4 mm on full frame, so still actually a telephoto shot). Much wider than the 100 mm lens though!

One of the tasks I have set for myself this season is to start experimenting with wider closeups, a style best demonstrated by great photographers such as Piotr Naskrecki, Clay Bolt and Paul Harcourt. Shooting close and wide has the advantage of showing the subject in the context of its surroundings, and can be surprisingly effective. In fact, a vast proportion of wildlife photography contest winners are shot on wide lenses, as seeing animals in these perspectives can really make for some stunning compositions.

I have been in my 100 mm comfort zone for too long, and I feel the need to get a bit more creative with my composition. In addition, I feel like the context is missing from many of my macro shots, and going wide will help me to centre my subjects in their habitat.

While I can get wide and close with a couple compacts I have, the only SLR lens my kit capable of wide shots is the EFS 18-55 “kit lens”. It is not a bad lens at all, stabilized and light, it is easy to pack around. Last night I made good on my resolution and tried it out on some sleeping Ammophila at McDonald Beach in Richmond.


Here is the same Ammophila cluster at 18 mm, bringing in yet more of the surroundings.


Again at 18 mm, stepping back about 3 cm further from the subject. Small differences in subject distance make a dramatic effect on the picture. Also, here you can see another Ammophila cluster down below and to the right! One of the disadvantages to working with a kit lens is the hexagonal highlights in the out-of focus areas of the background. Pricier zooms have rounded aperture blades that yield a more pleasing “bokeh“.


For all of these shots, I shot handheld in aperture priority, with the subject lit with a diffused manual flash held just overhead. Mostly I dropped the exposure compensation down 2/3-1 stop to emphasize the darkening evening. This shot is at 21 mm.



And here is one shot back in my comfort zone with the 100 mm and the flash held using the Monster Macro Rig at full extension of the rail and friction arm. Be sure to check out the larger versions of all this in this flickr set.