We’ve had our first two nights of frost for this year, the temperature down in the mid-20s Fahrenheit (-3.8 degrees Celcius), very cold for us this early in the winter.
This is my favorite lens for all things that mostly tell their stories in the details: tiny, delicate bits of icy frost rimming a maple leaf, the dark mystery of a tung tree leaf frozen in the top layer of the dog’s water bucket. I’ve written about this type of shooting before, once in another frost story and also in a story about a freezing photo walkabout.
In each case, finding your compositions up really close tends to slow your mind down, helping you really ‘see’ things in this altered way.
Focus and aperture are very important for these images. You want the minimum depth of field that will render sharp the object you’re focusing on without bringing other unwanted elements into focus. I generally start with the lens wide open at f2.5, adjusting my shutter speed to fix the correct exposure.
Two Great Tricks
Here’s a tip for this work: once you’ve focused on the most important element in your shot, try to keep your camera back parallel to what you need in focus. This will give you the sharpest rendering of your scene at the minimum aperture. For example, this red maple leaf is parallel to the back of my camera, where the light sensor is located, making an exposure of 1/83rd sec @ f2.5, ISO 400 possible.
Here’s a second trick: once you’re focused and composed your shot, unless you’re on a tripod, there will be some microadjusting that you’ll need to do to keep things sharp, since you’ll be swaying a bit in and out of best focus. Rather than trying to autofocus and shoot, simple use your body and very, very slowly rock in and out till you find sharp focus. Shoot several versions of what looks sharpest and you’ll have great results.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page ,Google+ pageor our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog