Spring Flower Tips – Lenses and composition

When we talk about composition, we usually talk about “Rule of Thirds” and foreground/ background, diagonal lines, leading lines, repeating elements and so forth. Have you ever considered the composition effect that changing lenses would have on how your subject relates to its surroundings?

I started doing Closeup Wide Angle images at least 15 years ago and used a small 8mm extension tube with my 17-35 wide angle lens to great effect. Instead of an intimate portrait of a flower, you now get a portrait but in a setting of the flowers surroundings. This gives the flower and home to live in as opposed to a setup that could be anywhere. I think it tells more of an environmental story to have more of the home surroundings of a subject. We are so concerned about the environment and where things are going, it is nice to show the environment even when you are doing a close up portrait.

Well, the 8mm extension tube doesn’t work on the 17-35 with digital cameras. Even the full  frame Nikon D4 just wouldn’t focus. I tried and I can share some images, but it wasn’t pretty. Alternatives are to use a diopter (big glass filter than screws in front of your lens). I use a Canon 500D diopter filter. Yes, Canon filters will work on Nikon glass. Why use Canon diopter? Because I can? Well, yes, but better answer is that Nikon doesn’t make a diopter in 77mm size. I also use the Nikon 5T and 6T diopters on my Nikon 200 micro when I want to get closer than 1:1. (This is full life size, meaning the image area you are capturing is the same size as the sensor area).

Yesterday, I was trying hard to make the 8mm extension tube and 17-35 Wide Angle thing work and wasn’t happy. I guess I thought I would get lucky and it would start working on the D4 where it hadn’t worked on the D2x or D3s or D3x.. Wrong. Then I remembered.. I’ve got a 24mm PCE (tilt shift) lens in my bag. The cool thing is that it is a Micro lens. So I got it out and started playing. It doesn’t give me quite the background area that the 17mm did, but it works.

So here are a few images, first shoot with 200 Micro then with 24 Micro. See the difference..

Later this weekend, I will show some images put together using Helicon Focus Stacking. Creates a different image than trying to get everything sharp by using a large DOF when doing macro work..


4 responses to “Spring Flower Tips – Lenses and composition

  • Al Marsh

    Absolutely true on the first two and that is something I will try when I get a tilt-shift. I just got a new Canon macro. On the third, the flower gets sort of lost in the other vegetation. But since I’ve never tried it, I will first learn how to do it. Great idea.

  • Cindy Archbell

    I have some extension tubes for my Canon. I will try them on my wide angle this weekend and see what I can get. Also, I will use my ND filter and see what I can capture.

    Today, I started using a custom white balance. Didnt realize how easy it is to set…I liked the results!



    • billcampbellphotography

      Let me know if the extension tubes work on your Canon. For a wide angle lens, they have to be really short (8mm is my shortest and the one I used to use). The ND will help a lot for slowing water down,
      but most of the time a polarizer will do. I had to use the ND filter (which is also a polarizer) because it was intermittently sunny and bright. You can even stack both a polarizer and a ND filter, just be careful at your corners on a extreme wide angle lens because you may get some vignetting. If you have a zoom extreme wide angle, just zoom in until you don’t see the little black edges in the corners. But remember that your viewfinder may not be 100% and your final image may still have vignetting.

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