Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bug Eyed Focusing Modes

Today I spent an hour or two sitting in the grass getting eaten by bugs.  And trying to take pictures of them.  I have tried a few different techniques while shooting bugs in the past, but I haven't ever really had as much success as I wanted.  I usually try to manually focus my macro lens while hand-holding the camera, or focus by moving the camera closer to or further from the subject.  That kindof works, but I am pretty shaky and didn't get many sharp images.  I then tried using a tripod and manually focusing the lens (no macro focus rails yet...), and ended up getting some good images, but only of slow moving stuff. 

So it turns out to get good macro images you need LIGHT!!  By going out today in the nice bright late-afternoon light, I was able to shoot at much faster shutter speeds and most of them were nice and sharp!

As for focusing the shots in the right spot, I tried a new tactic: Servo AI mode!  In case you don't know, most modern SLR's have at least 3 auto focus modes, along with auto or manually selected focus points or zones.  On my Canon 60D those modes are:

  • One Shot - this will focus on the selected point (or pick a point and focus on it if in auto) when the shutter is half pressed and hold that same focal plane until you either release the shutter, or let go of the shutter button
  • AI Servo - This mode is basically a continuous auto-focus mode where the camera will try to keep the subject in focus even when it moves closer or further away.  If you have selected a focus point manually, it will always try to keep whatever is under that spot in focus as you move the camera around and as the subject moves
  • AI Focus - This is a combination of the two modes.  It defaults to One-Shot mode so you can focus by half-pressing the shutter release and re-frame, but if the camera then detects the subjects in frame starting to move, it will switch to AI Servo Mode
So basically I haven't ever really experimented with anything besides One-Shot, as my background is mostly in weddings, portraits, and a bit of landscape.  Basically I usually shoot things that are slow moving or static.  I have shot a few sporting events, but nothing too intense.  I clicked my camera over to AI Servo, selected a focus point and held the shutter button half down as all sorts of insects buzzed and crawled around just inches in front of my face.  My lens (f/2.8 100mm Macro) does NOT have a fast focus motor, but it managed to mostly keep up with the camera instructions and the bugs, and I was able to get a bunch or really sweet shots.  I'll be sharing them one or two at a time over the coming months (wouldn't want you to get all bugged out and... bug out... so..)

This particular thing was kind of a cross between a bee and a fly.  It's rear end is yellow like a bee, but it basically looked like a sick nasty fly.  I've noticed also that bee's eyes are usually smooth, while flies have tons of tiny faucets or clusters that make up their eyes.  Something like that.  I'll include a near 1:1 crop so you can see what I mean.

And here's a sick nasty closeup so you can see his eye!

1 comment:

  1. Matthew said "That's a bad guy!" and I said "yeah, it's kind of freaky, isn't it?" and he said "It's freaky!" Haha. But impressive. :)


Hey thanks for commenting! I love to hear what you have to say. -Eric