Photo Gear | 60 mm | New York

Last time I talked about how I use the Nikon 300mm lens in my photography. (Photo Gear | 300mm | New York) While I love using the long lens to photograph wildlife from a distance. This time around I am going to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum. I want to talk about how I get close up and personal with subjects.

Some of my favorite Subjects are flowers and insects. The way I like to photograph these subjects is by getting up close to the subjects. The tool I use to get close to whatever subject I have trained my eye on is a Nikon 60mm macro lens.

The 60mm macro lens has the ability to focus on a subject at a very close range. So the lens can be very close to the subject. I can get literally face to face with the subject if necessary.

The 60mm macro lens also has a wide f-stop of 2.8. This allows the lens to let a lot of light in. It also creates bokeh that I really like in my images.

Image created using Nikon 60mm macro lens.

Creating Macro Photography

The ability to get close to a subject really allows me to bring out details that otherwise or easily overlooked from a more distant perspective. With a macro lens I can get so close to my subject that I can focus on details that you can’t really even see well with the naked eye. It is like discovering a whole new world sometimes. Mundane subjects become increasingly interesting and fascinating when you get close up and personal.

Combine the ability to get close and focus on the small details in a subject with the fact that the lens has f-2.8 capabilities and that is what really captures my creativity as a photographer. Setting the lens to f-2.8 creates bokeh or blurring of the background in the subject. Whatever is captured in the frame that is not the focus becomes blurry or out of focus.

The macro capabilities of the lens allows me to get really close. I can find and focus on the precise detail I want to accentuate in a photograph. Then by using a wide aperture such as f-2.8 I can effectively lose all detail in the rest of the photograph surrounding the focus point of my image. This allows for endless creativity. I can focus on different parts of the flower while keeping the same composition and the images look drastically different because of what is or is not in focus. 

My Style of Macro

There are a lot of ways to shoot macro photography. It is totally up to the photographer how they want to approach things.

I like to hand hold so I almost always shoot with the aperture wide open. Having the aperture wide open and having an f-stop around 2.8 allows me to have a minimum shutter speed that will eliminate and camera shake due to hand holding in most situation.

I like hand holding. I like freedom to move and be spontaneous. However, hand holding and spontaneity can cause their own set of challenges. Because I like to get really close to my subject a lot of the time and I like to use a wide open aperture around f-2.8 that has a very shallow depth of field and renders everything not on the same plane of desired focus completely out of focus it requires some precision to get the intended shot. The slightest movement from myself or the subject will cause the focus point to be completely different and the focus of the image will be completely wrong.

I have to try to remain as still as I can. It is harder than it seems when playing with those slim margins. And even if I remain still sometimes my subjects don’t cooperate. Insects do not care that I am trying to focus on a specific point on their bodies. They keep moving. They keep messing up my shot, hahaha. Oh and Mother Nature has no sympathy either. The wind will blow the flowers every which way. And just when you think the wind has died down and you have the shot, here another gust. It can be frustrating and difficult at times. Even when I think I got the shot there can be just that fraction of movement that occurred and the shot is not quite right.

Photo created using 60mm lens at f/4.0

This process can require patience. Sometimes I have it. Sometimes I have no patience. On those occasions I make a few attempts at the shot. And if I am unsuccessful I move on and look for a new subject. In these instances it is usually the wind that is my tormenter. The very nature I love can betray me. But I make the best of it. It is my choice in the process after all.

I feel like I have a pretty consistent style with my macro photography using the 60mm lens. I generally take the same approach unless I very intentionally try to do something different.

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