Shooting Angles and Distances

It is important to consider shooting angles and distances when doing macro and close-up photography as these factors impact our images.  This article shares some handheld macro images that were captured at a recent visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory. All of the images are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping done to them at all. Photographs were resized for website use.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-800, subject distance 855 mm

Every photographer has their own preferences when it comes to composition and the amount of a subject that they like to show in their images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-800, subject distance 735 mm

One approach isn’t necessarily better than another… just different. For example, my wife prefers photographs showing an entire butterfly, preferably with its wings outstretched so the colours and patterns are visible.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 710 mm

Sometimes we can also create some interesting macro images when we change our shooting angle to one that is pointed up towards a subject butterfly. This angle can add more contrast or mood to an image.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-1250, subject distance 1.2 metres

Another approach is to increase our distance from a subject butterfly and frame it with some background foliage. This provides a sense of scale in terms of how small and delicate butterflies are in their environment.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-640, subject distance 985 mm

We can shoot from a position looking up at our subject. I regularly use the articulating screen on my E-M1X to achieve this perspective. Shooting from this angle can create a layered effect in our images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-400, subject distance 885 mm

We can also include foliage and flowers to create a layered effect in our photographs. This can help create a feeling of depth.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 970 mm

Depending on the distance between our subject and the background in our composition, we can enhance the visual isolation of our subject butterfly.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-1000, subject distance 975 mm

We can sometimes forget to capture additional images of the same subject butterfly by moving in closer, or further away.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-400, subject distance 440 mm

When using a flash like the M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Macro it can be important to remember that as a flash designed specifically for macro photography may not be as powerful as a regular all-purpose flash. So, we may have to adjust our ISO setting from time to time.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 265 mm

Changing our shooting angle and distance can dramatically change our compositions, and add drama to our photographs.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 250 mm

And if desired, get in really tight and personal with a subject.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-320, subject distance 735 mm

I always look for backlighting on subject butterflies as this can really help the colours on its wings pop against a dark background, and enhance the overall contrast in a composition.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 245 mm

We can also add some interest and variety to our butterfly macro photography by capturing images of them perched upside down, or in other unusual positions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 370 mm

When I visit a facility like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory I like to keep moving throughout the pathways, and capture images as I wander around. During the 2.5 hours of my last visit I probably ‘did the circuit’ at least 8 times. All of the images featured in this article were captured during that same visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 285 mm

This helps me capture a range of images of the same species from different shooting angles and distances.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 250 mm

Until I purchased the M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS, I did not fully appreciate how much of a difference using a macro lens that accepts teleconverters could make to my macro photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-500, subject distance 520 mm

I’ve also started using my M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin Macro Flash on a more regular basis… especially since my wife suggested that I add some veiling cloth inside the diffusers to further soften the light dispersion.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 275 mm

This simple DIY solution has broadened my use of the STF-8. Although some further experimentation is needed, I am getting close to deciding on my ‘go to’ macro set-up. More on that in a future article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 295 mm

To further illustrate the importance of shooting angles and distances, this article ends with an assortment of photographs captured with two different species of butterflies… including the image above.

Having a camera like the E-M1X that has an articulating screen, comfortable grip, and excellent handling characteristics significantly increases in-field macro flexibility.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 315 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 350 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 265 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 255 mm

And finally… our last series of macro images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-400, subject distance 715 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 405 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 345 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 265 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter and M.Zuiko STF-8 Twin macro flash @ 126 mm, efov 252 mm, f/14, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 260 mm

Macro and close-up photography can be an enjoyable and challenging pastime. By changing our shooting angles and distances we can create a wider range of images, and increase our enjoyment of this photographic genre.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment  noted in the EXIF data. All images were created from RAW files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,389 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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2 thoughts on “Shooting Angles and Distances”

  1. These are amazing images taken with the 90mm. These and previous articles have truely inspired me, and i have been out and bought the 90mm lens.
    A friend is using on the OM1 and has the benefit of the syncro, i am still on an EM1 MK2 so not as sophisticated but using the STF8 that i already have i am looking forward to having a play this week and seeing if i can get close to such wonderful images.

    Does the 1.4TC make such a big difference in getting close to the subject?
    I too will have to experiment with some diffuser in the flash clip on hoods. I have some foam plate wrappers one of which will make many liners to slip in the clip on diffusers. It was the strong specular highlights that i found disappointing with the STF8.
    I spent the last weekend at a singing competition where i was using ISO of 3200 LR does an amazing job of cleaning the images, so i no longer have any worries with “grain”.
    Keep up the excellent work.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your supportive comment about the recent macro images… I’m glad you enjoyed them!

      If my memory serves the EM-1 Mark II will provide an additional stop of stabilization with Sync-IS when using the 90 mm PRO IS lens. I also had issues with fairly strong specular highlights at times when using the STF-8. Some additional diffusion material helps quite a bit.

      I’ve used the MC-20 and MC-14 with the 90 mm macro, and both work quite well. I find that the MC-14 is a more practical choice as it is easier to handhold than the MC-20 when doing in-camera focus stacking. The MC-14 provides 40% more ‘magnification’ with only one stop of light loss. For me that is a worthwhile trade-off.

      Using teleconverters with the 90 mm macro lens can really help when trying to photograph insects that are more skittish in nature.

      I use a double barrelled approach with noise reduction. My base processor for RAW files in DxO PhotoLab. I apply DeepPRIME at a value of 15 for all of my images regardless of the ISO value at which they were captured. I export a DNG file into an old copy of PhotoShop which allows me to use Topaz DeNoise AI as needed. Using both programs in tandem can be very effective. I regularly shoot up to ISO-6400 without any hesitation. As long as I do my part and get a properly balanced exposure I will shoot up to ISO-16000 on occasion.

      Tom

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