Macro - WorldWide Webs
Some people assume that by constantly looking through a lens, we photographers miss much of the world around us. That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when the lens that you’re looking through is of the macro variety. Viewing everyday items in macro reveals a whole world to explore, with details you didn’t even know existed. Insects become fascinating alien-like species, flowers turn out to be true works of art and even simple water drops become boundlessly attractive. A small patch of garden can provide hours of fun and makes you ponder and appreciate the detailed world around you.
What’s especially fun about macro photography is that even the most common subjects are suitable, many of which you can find in your garden. You’ve probably enjoyed the beautiful sight of cobwebs glittering in the sun on an early, dewy morning, but through a macro lens it’s even more spectacular. The spider silk looks like liquid metal, sprinkled with tiny pearl droplets. Now that the nights are getting noticeably colder and more humid there are more opportunities for morning mist, which is essential for adding the dusting of moisture for a dewy cobweb image.
To decide if it’s a good morning to leave your warm bed early, keep a check on the weather forecast. Wait for cloudless nights when it cools to at least 10°C and, ideally, there should not be too much wind expected either. Needless to say, a beautiful sunrise adds a touch of back lighting and increases your chances of achieving that dream shot.
Drops of dew are really small and a dedicated macro lens with 1:1 reproduction will allow you to fill the frame. A camera with an APS-C sensor gives you the magnification factor that helps you to get closer to your subject, but one with a full-frame sensor (like mine) works fine, too. A tripod will come in handy when there isn’t enough light to avoid camera shake, but if it’s light enough you can shoot handheld, which is often easier with low-lying subjects. I would also recommend a plastic bag to sit on, or even wearing full waterproofs could be a good idea, given the fact that the location might be very wet – at least, that’s what we are hoping for, isn’t it?
1 - Web Search
Finding a spider isn’t that critical, but the web should be in a location with a good amount of light and a clear backdrop – shooting from low down against the sky works perfectly. Heath, shrubs, trees, bridges, benches, traffic lights and even road signs are good places to look!
Different locations will house different spider species, each with different shaped webs.
2 - The Right Light
If the morning mist isn’t too thick, you can use the warm morning light to add colour to your photos. A web in a wide-open space allows you freedom to choose the best angle and work with the light. Dewy webs suit backlighting well, but try out different angles and approaches and assess how the light affects the droplets of dew through your lens.
3 - Settings
Select aperture-priority mode and choose a mid-aperture setting. Start at ISO 200 and increase the ISO rating to give you a shutter speed that eliminates both camera shake (if shooting handheld) and any breeze blowing the web.
Depending on your background, you may need to use exposure compensation to control the exposure.
4 - Focusing
Your angle to the web will greatly affect the outcome of the image. If you want all of the drops to be in focus, then keep your lens parallel with the plane of focus that the web is on. Alternatively, position your lens at an angle to the web and focus on one droplet to create a silky smooth foreground and background bokeh.
Article from the Digital SLR Photography Magazine - Roeselien Raimond