Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 WEEK 7: Clearly I'm NOT Ready For My Close-up...

Two factors led me to my subject choice for this week's exercise.

I like wide landscape shots because my ratio of good vs bad shots is way higher - So why not step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself a little? The second factor was the weather which pretty much forced me to find material to shoot that was close to home.

So the challenge was set: Extreme Close-ups! Macro! High-speed fraction-of-a-second beauty!

Though intimidated by the idea of shooting something I'd never tried before, I was also excited and went into it with high hopes... Hopes that soon resembled the twisted metal of a train wreck.

Out of almost 300 pictures, I ended up with only a dozen or so that weren't absolutely god awful and even these few were still huge disappointments. I failed. Big time. Picture after picture that was wrong on every level. First, there was the wildly ridiculous subject choice - I thought it would be interesting to capture the "moment" as frozen peas fell into a wine glass of water... yeah. Don't ask. Just know that I finally realized how nonsensical I was being when I was about to shoot a pickle dropping into a glass of orange juice...

Say what-?! Remember, the above monstrosity is one of the "better" ones.

Compositionally pretty much every picture failed. Even cropping in post-processing couldn't save these digital turkeys. The backgrounds, despite being out of focus, were just plain ugly. Compounding my problems even more were issues of exposure, depth-of-field and minimum focus distance vs focal length. I just don't have the lenses for indoor macro scale work. The long lenses couldn't focus close enough and/or were not fast enough and despite its best efforts, my 48 LED ring-light which I was using for the first time, just couldn't cut it. I guess that's why there are specific macro lenses, extensions tubes, extenders, diopters, flashes, lights and other accessories available. Duh!

It was disappointing. It was frustrating. But it was a good lesson to learn - Don't expect incredible results when you compromise and cut corners to the point where you undermine the core of your goal. Recognize what you have together with its limitations. This is true for both skills and tools.

Here's the result of my second attempt at some close-up work. This time I went outside and used natural light and let the subject guide the shot instead of trying to force my own expectations onto it.

I love the colors in this one.


More drip-drip. Gotta love Vancouver!

Finally, I had to include this one even though its not a true close-up/macro shot. This is Rambo and he's mad that his attempt at camouflage has failed. Or maybe he was still judging me for thinking that tossing frozen peas into a wine glass was breathtakingly original.

THE GEEKY: All of this week's images were captured with the 47 year-old M42 mount Pentax Asahi SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4.