This article features a selection of uncropped flower macro images which were recently captured handheld at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario.
As photographers we typically compose our images to avoid any kind of cropping if at all possible. This helps ensure that we can get as many pixels as possible on our subject matter. Some photographic genres are more difficult than others when it comes to capturing full frames, and avoiding any cropping. Handheld in-field macro photography can be tricky at times.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
One of the things that I have always loved about my Olympus M4/3 kit is the small size and maneuverability of the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens. Even when mounted on a larger, double gripped body like the E-M1X, it always amazes me how tight I can get to subjects in cramped quarters.
Although it may initially seem counterintuitive, using a double gripped body for handheld macro photography is actually a huge benefit. Being able to switch effortlessly between landscape and portrait orientations allows me to focus all of my concentration on my macro compositions… and not worry about my camera being awkward to use. The larger, dual grip design provides more stability for handheld photography.
Handheld flower macro photography is something that I have become more passionate about over the past year and a half. I find it to be a very rewarding experience to create images that document the intricacies of nature.
I am often visually drawn to extremely small flower buds as I find the detail in them to be astonishing. Becoming increasingly familiar and confident using in-camera focus stacking handheld, has opened up an interesting stream of photographic potential to explore.
I have come to rely on my E-M1X’s amazing IBIS performance and I have no hesitation to shoot handheld flower macro images at shutter speeds like 1/15 or 1/20 when using in-camera focusing stacking.
When choosing flower macro subjects I look for interesting buds, complimentary backgrounds, and good natural light. If those three factors are present, then the challenge becomes finding the right shooting angle.
This is where the articulating rear screen on my E-M1X is worth its weight in gold. I shoot all of my macro flower images handheld using the rear screen of my E-M1X.
I regularly find myself composing with the rear screen positioned at all kinds of crazy angles… including at right angles to the focal plane of my camera.
The solid, dual grip design of the E-M1X allows me to capture handheld flower macro images while my physical body may be in various contorted positions. When needed, I can use somewhat faster shutter speeds to capture my macro images one-handed.
I make it a point to stay very aware of any breezes, however slight, even when shooting in indoor venues. If there is too much of a breeze, I just move on to a different potential subject blossom.
Over the past number of months I made the decision that 10 focus stacked frames with a focus differential of 4 produces the best results for me… when using in-camera focus stacking for flower macro photographs.
Choosing where to place a single, auto-focusing point is becoming more intuitive as my experience with this technology has improved. Generally I use a 30/70 ratio of foreground to background away from my focusing point.
When using the in-camera focusing stacking function in Olympus/OM System cameras there is a slight crop around the outside edges. This is identified by a thin, black line that runs around the edges of the composition. Sometimes this can be difficult to see depending on where darker areas of a composition are positioned.
I find it can be very helpful to nudge my auto-focusing point with the joystick on the rear panel of my E-M1X. This causes all of my auto-focusing points to light up. I can then use them to check on the balance of my composition, and to ensure that parts of it won’t be inadvertently cropped off. with the auto trim that happens with in-camera focus stacking.
The in-camera focus stacking function has become a feature that I find very effective, quick and easy to use. For example, all of the photographs featured in this article were created in less than an hour at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
In-camera focus stacking was a feature that I didn’t pay much attention to when I first moved over to the Olympus system. As a result I missed out on a lot of creative opportunities. Lesson learned.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpegs using my standard process. My standard in-camera focus stacking settings were used, 10 frames with a focus differential of 4.
For those readers who are interested in calculating equivalent field-of-view, multiply focal lengths for Olympus M4/3 cameras by a factor of 2. This is the 1,271 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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