This summer and fall I was really excited to see all the interest in macro photography on our workshops. Often overlooked, macro scenes are fascinating and inspirational; who knew what was right at your feet? Our redwoods workshop is timed perfectly for the Columbia lilies to be in bloom; when you get tried of looking up at the tallest trees in the world, switch gears and start looking down at the delicate flowers in the forest.
Macro photography involves getting close to your subject, and true macro lenses reproduce the subject life size on the film plane. To get this close to a small object like an aspen leaf or water droplet, you need to use a macro lens, extension tubes or a diopter lens like the Canon 500D. Next, once you are that close to your subject, you have to use a tripod. The slightest movement will blur the photo and change the focus.
If you have ever tried macro photography, you know the real trick is focusing on your subject while on a tripod. If is very difficult to move the center post or legs of your tripod to move closer or further away from your subject. And that is why you want to use a focusing rail. These rails attach to your tripod head, and when your camera is attached, you can very precisely move your camera back and forth for perfect focus.
There are a number of focus rails on the market, but I really like the RRS focus rail. This finely crafted rail attaches to any arca-swiss style tripod head, and has a knob to allow smooth precise focus. What is terrific is even with your camera mounted vertically with a large lens, the rail won’t creep. It has enough drag to stay in place. Just remember to keep your subject as flat as possible to the lens front for the best depth of field. Or you could try focus stacking with subjects that have a lot of depth.
Colorado already has two feet of snow in the mountains. And that means delicate ice crystals are in the forest and on the lakes. Time to head out into winter for some macro photography.