Tips & Tutorials

Capturing the Moment a Fluff Sets off on Its Journey with a Macro Lens

To capture a close-up shot of a tiny object, make use of a macro lens, which allows you to photograph from a close distance. In this article, I will explain how you can take handheld shots of a swaying object. (Reported by: Yoriko Yamagishi, Illustrations by: Chisato Imamichi)

LENS WORK

Make use of the IS feature for your handheld shots

To capture a close-up shot of a tiny object, make use of a macro lens, which enables you to photograph from a close distance. Also, life-size shots can be produced, which makes tiny objects such as the dandelion fluff in this example appear large in the image. Handheld shooting gives you the flexibility to ensure that you can capture the fluff quickly before it is blown off by the wind, and when a high degree of mobility is required. However, remember to turn on the IS feature in this case. Aim patiently through the viewfinder using MF, and release the shutter at the moment the wind stops and the subject is still.

EOS 6D/ EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM/ FL: 100mm/ Aperture-priority AE (1/200 sec., f/2.8, +1.7EV)/ ISO 200/ WB: 4,700K

A dandelion fluff spreading its wings, about to embark on a journey. Here, I took continuous shots of the moment the subject starts drifting in the wind.

LENS USED

EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

The impact of camera shake is greater when the magnification ratio increases, but you can rest assured with the IS feature on this lens. Yet another useful feature is full-time MF, which allows you to switch from AF to MF during high-speed AF shooting. This lens produces beautiful and smooth bokeh effects as well as sharp depictions, and comes in extremely handy not only as a macro but also as a mid-telephoto lens.

Click here to see details of the EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

TECHNIQUE

Determine the angle according to the predicted direction of the fluff's movement

I found this fluff that was just about to embark on its journey on a field scattered with vivid yellow dandelion blossoms. I moved close to the subject, and took a handheld shot with my body lying on the ground, while taking into consideration the distance of the surrounding dandelions and the direction in which the fluff is likely to move.

Capture the right moment with the high-speed shutter and continuous shooting mode

To compose a shot that brings out the dandelion fluff, which is the main theme, I moved extremely close to the subject to exclude the rachis from the composition. The aperture was opened up in the Aperture-priority AE mode, and I chose an ISO speed to obtain a shutter speed so that the subject would appear still in the light breeze. In this example, I selected ISO 200. I positioned the camera along a plane that was parallel to that of the fluff while taking the colour of the background into consideration. At the same time, I chose an angle that was able to capture the shape and movement of the subject. I set the drive mode to Continuous Shooting to capture shots of the fluff swaying in the breeze, and selected the photo that successfully captured the moment it drifted into the air.

With the aperture opened up, I was able to express the colours of the dandelion blossoms around the subject. To bring out the gradation in the yellow dandelions at the back and the brown colour of the ground, I chose an increased exposure setting. By capturing the moment a white fluff leaves its "buddies" and drifts into the air against the gradation of the background, the main theme stands out from the surroundings to form a rhythmic flow in the composition.

The main theme does not stand out from this angle

In this example, the rachis of the flower was included, and the fluff was captured from slightly above. The main theme does not stand out in this composition.

The angle and focus of the fluff can be improved

In this shot, the fluff that was floating downward in the breeze blended into the yellow background, and failed to stand out as a result. Also, focus was not established on the intended subject.

Yoriko Yamagishi

Born in Aichi Prefecture, Yamagishi became a professional photographer after developing an interest in photography during her stay in the U.S. in 1997. She specialises in portrait snaps and close-up nature shots.

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