On 1st October we had our first virtual photo advice evening. Normally we would sit around tables in the Fisherrow Centre and discuss the prints brought by members, passing the prints from table to table, and finish the evening with a chat over tea and biscuits. This year we discussed digital versions of our images by Zoom teleconference. Each member presented 3 images for comments and advice. Unlike the photoshoot round-up last week, this time we spent much longer on each image discussing its merits and suggesting improvements. Some of the lessons learned were:
- Macro photography is difficult and focusing is critical. If you are close to your subject even small camera movements can shift the focus away from your subject. Flowers blowing in the wind can drift in and out of focus as they move, and you if you choose a smaller aperture to give a greater DOF the wind can cause motion blur. Macro photography is best done using a tripod in a sheltered spot. Hand-held macro shots let you be more creative, but you should allow for a lot more rejected shots.
- A focus stack is difficult to get right, but small focus increments work best, and the shots are best made using a tripod. Try taking a test shot at a very small aperture (such as f/22-f/32) to see how your subject looks with a large DOF. The focus stack will have worked if you can create a sharper shot than the one taken at the very small aperture. (Shots at very small apertures are blurred by diffraction.)
- A landscape image works best when there is something interesting in the foreground, such as a house, a river or a path which leads the eye to the interesting scenery in the background. It is well worth collecting photographs of interesting skies, even if the foreground is boring. You can replace a boring sky in a landscape shot with an interesting one from your collection.
- Nature and wildlife images work best when there is a narrow DOF and no distracting objects in the background. Ideally, distractions should be avoided by careful composition in camera but we don’t always notice everything at the time. Distractions can be cropped out or darkened or (for nature photography only) removed by cloning. These days, the most successful nature and wildlife shots are ones that capture interesting or unusual behaviour.
- Shots made at unusual angles can work really well. Try getting down on the ground and photographing your flowers from their level, or capturing a crabs-eye view of the shells on a beach.
Thank you to everybody who brought and shared their images. There were some really cracking flower and nature shots we may well see again in future competitions.
- Next week we have our first competition of the year. Dougie Allan will judge our Digital Projected Images Competition. Our first virtual competition. I look forward to seeing you then.