Spring Flower Tips – Lenses and composition

When we talk about composition, we usually talk about “Rule of Thirds” and foreground/ background, diagonal lines, leading lines, repeating elements and so forth. Have you ever considered the composition effect that changing lenses would have on how your subject relates to its surroundings?

I started doing Closeup Wide Angle images at least 15 years ago and used a small 8mm extension tube with my 17-35 wide angle lens to great effect. Instead of an intimate portrait of a flower, you now get a portrait but in a setting of the flowers surroundings. This gives the flower and home to live in as opposed to a setup that could be anywhere. I think it tells more of an environmental story to have more of the home surroundings of a subject. We are so concerned about the environment and where things are going, it is nice to show the environment even when you are doing a close up portrait.

Well, the 8mm extension tube doesn’t work on the 17-35 with digital cameras. Even the full  frame Nikon D4 just wouldn’t focus. I tried and I can share some images, but it wasn’t pretty. Alternatives are to use a diopter (big glass filter than screws in front of your lens). I use a Canon 500D diopter filter. Yes, Canon filters will work on Nikon glass. Why use Canon diopter? Because I can? Well, yes, but better answer is that Nikon doesn’t make a diopter in 77mm size. I also use the Nikon 5T and 6T diopters on my Nikon 200 micro when I want to get closer than 1:1. (This is full life size, meaning the image area you are capturing is the same size as the sensor area).

Yesterday, I was trying hard to make the 8mm extension tube and 17-35 Wide Angle thing work and wasn’t happy. I guess I thought I would get lucky and it would start working on the D4 where it hadn’t worked on the D2x or D3s or D3x.. Wrong. Then I remembered.. I’ve got a 24mm PCE (tilt shift) lens in my bag. The cool thing is that it is a Micro lens. So I got it out and started playing. It doesn’t give me quite the background area that the 17mm did, but it works.

So here are a few images, first shoot with 200 Micro then with 24 Micro. See the difference..

200 Micro

24 PCE Micro Nikon

24 PCE Micro Nikon

200 Nikon Micro

24 PCE Micro Nikon

200 Nikon Micro

Later this weekend, I will show some images put together using Helicon Focus Stacking. Creates a different image than trying to get everything sharp by using a large DOF when doing macro work..

Editors Note: Check out Bill’s workshops here.

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