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Urban Safari: Macro In The Garden

The weather forecast for Marathon Monday was spot on: the mercury climbed to over 80º. While the steamy temperature was a challenge for the marathoners, the plants in the RainyDayGarden loved it.

The heat sped everything up. The daffodils, which had been blooming, perked up. The yellow tulips, which hadn’t even turned yellow the day before, started to bloom. Even some of the irises got into the action. We took advantage got in some practice on shooting close-ups and macro photos.

Shooting close-ups outdoors can try one’s patience. The bright sun made it easier toget a good exposure when getting in close, but a light breeze made it difficult to get the pin-sharp shots we wanted. Even the slightest breeze  disturbed the shot sufficiently such that the main subject ended up being blurry. However, while the entire composition might not be worth keeping, parts of it may be worth saving. It may be the shape of an out-of-focus leaf or the color of the blurred background, and with some judicious cropping we found something worth keeping from unexpected portions of the shot.

Most of the time a tripod is a must-have when shooting close-ups, but it was so bright out that we didn’t need one. Not having to use a tripod allowed us to move and shoot much faster. The trade-off was that we had to be more aware of the shutter speed, camera stability, and even our breathing, anything which could introduce movement or vibration when shooting freehand.

We took most of these shots using a Nikon D90 with an 18-200mm zoom (200 ASA, F4). Now a zoom lens may not be an obvious choice for close-up shots, but we like to use it on bright days because it allows us a lot more freedom in framing and composing the shot. We can switch quickly between a wider angle and go right in for the detail. Oh look. The basils have sprouted!

If the weather holds tomorrow, we’ll bring out the Lensbaby and some of the more exotic gear and continue with our close-up exploration of the RainyDayGarden.

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