macro photography

Macro Photography

A commenter recently said that, "Macro photography takes time and practices, especially to get the bokeh background." You know what? They were right.


photography producing photographs of small items larger than life size. 

Dreamy Bokeh| Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Macro photography can be intimidating but it doesn't have to be. I first began macro photography when I had 55-200mm lens mounted on my camera and thought, "Hmmmm, I wonder what that flower will look like if I take a picture of it up close?" I figured out my distance for focus by stepping forward and backwards, and then snapped the shutter. It was all an experiment. 

Fall Close Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserve

Tips for taking a macro photo without a dedicated macro lens....

~The longer the zoom the better. This will help with that bokeh background. You will want to shot fully zoomed out.

To capture a bokeh background you want to create space between the camera and the object, and the object and the background. The further away the object is from the background the more bokeh you will achieve. 

~A lower f-stop helps. This too will help create a nice bokeh affect, but it can be the most frustrating thing to wrap your brain around. 

In basic terms, setting your f-stop to a wider value (a lower number i.e. f1.4, f2.5, f3.5) creates a shallow depth of field which focuses the attention on your subject. 

Click through to read more... Photography 101: Understanding Photography Basics- Aperture & Depth of Field

Click through to read more... Photography 101: Understanding Photography Basics- Aperture & Depth of Field

~ A tripod is not necessarily a must.

I vary rarely use a tripod when I am taking nature photos. Gasp, I know, I know, I should be using one, but let's be honest it's not convenient. So instead, I ALWAYS rapid fire shots. Holding my camera steady, elbows against my ribs, I take a deep breath, hold it, and fire away. At a minimum I take three shots, but usually five to six. More than likely, one out of the six will be tack sharp in focus.

Dangling Fall | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserve

~Wind is not your friend, or even a slight breeze.

When you live in a windy place, like I do, macro photography is much harder. Even the slightest breeze can make your shot blurry.  I always try to shoot macro nature shots on a still day, and if I have a slight breeze I up how many pictures I take of an object. 

~ Finally, practice makes perfect. 

I have a dedicated macro lens now, but it took time to find it's sweet spot. I still find myself practicing to figure it out completely. To me photography is always about practice, every day I am practicing when I pick up my camera and shoot, that's half the fun of photography.

Colors of Autumn: How I Isolate Color

The Random...

It is not always easy to capture the color of the season. I live in an area where our fall is not the cascading colors of orange, red, indigo and yellow streaming over the landscape. My landscape is mainly evergreen, with a smattering of mostly golden yellow aspen trees throughout. To find another color of fall is a treasure hunt of the eyes.

I have found the best way to capture the color of fall here is to isolate it. Instead of lavish lush landscape photos I have focused on close-up shots of splashes of colors. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

The Good...

To isolate a color you do not have to rely on macro photography, but you do have to get personal. Do not be afraid to tuck your camera in nice and tight for your shot, but be sure to stay within your sweet spot for you lens.

Tip... if you have nature photos that are not tack sharp most of the time it is because you moved in beyond the plane of focus. I play this one by ear, and push back in tiny increments until I can visually see that I am tack sharp. Practice makes perfect on this process; purposefully step in too close to your subject and then back off to see just how close you can get to a subject. (Yes, there are focal distance rules, but I find most people learn best by doing and seeing.)

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

To isolate the color further I often look for contrasting backgrounds from the color I am isolating. 

Tip... This is where bokeh comes into play. Most people think of bokeh as those pictures that have the shimmers of round spots in the background of a shot. However, the definition of bokeh is: the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.  The key to bokeh is space. Space between the subject and the background, or space between you and the subject if you have a larger zoom lens. (By larger, I mean 200mm or more) To create bokeh with a zoom lens: I zoom all the way out, 200mm or more. Then, I manually set my focus point on my subject. I tuck in as close as I can get with my zoom fully extended, make sure my subject in focus, and shoot. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

And then, there is the Rule of Thirds. The rule of thirds is meant to be broken, I break it all the time, however it works rather well in isolating fall colors. It works because when your subject lies within the a third of your shot, then the viewers eye will naturally be drawn to the subject, and consequently the isolated color of the subject will register with the brain quicker.

Tip... You do not always have to shoot with the Rule of Thirds in mind. I often shoot a little bit wider around my subject and then recompose it in editing, with the crop tool. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

How to isolate the color of fall, quick review...

~Look for pops of color within the over all landscape, then shoot close. 

~Look for pops of color with a background that is a contrasting color, and create bokeh.

~Look for pops of color that fall within the Rule of Thirds in your shots. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

The Fun...

~ Do not forget to hashtag your photos on Instagram and each Friday I will feature some of our favorites at Lisa.Kerner  



~ Do not forget about the giveaway, you only have a couple more weeks to enter... hop on over to Kristy's site at Life-n-Reflection to enter for a chance to win, to be announced October 31st. 

Baby it's Cold Outside

So, I'll have to admit, I sort of forgot just how cold it gets here in South Dakota. We haven't lived back home in fourteen years, so it was easy to forget simple things like negative degree days. But, it's a happy trade off for me; I'll take cold, negative degree days over hot, humid, sticky days. 

In the winter time

When all the leaves are brown

And the wind blows so chill

And the birds have all flown for the summer

~ Steve Mille Band, Winter Time Lyrics.  


#lookingforwinterslp at Lisa.Kerner on Instagram



I'll be visiting these lovely communities... join along...  Song-ography, Wordless Wednesday, and Little Things Thursday

Life Thru the Lens 2/52... up close and personal

We graduated Blue Eyes on New Year's Eve. To help celebrate, my mom had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to her. Of course I could not let that opportunity slip by without a little photographic fun. 

I had an entirely different approach planned, but by the time I actually got around to shooting these flowers they were not at their peek. I decided a little macro would be fun, but that is boring, and I am a little more than tired of just shooting flowers up close. So, why not try my hand at water droplets?

Believe me when I say it was a ton of trial and error. And, eventually I gave up at trying to capture the droplet falling off the tip of the flower petal because I was running out of natural light fast. Without the proper amount of light, it was impossible to capture a crisp shot. Well, a crisp enough shot that I would share it with you all... wink, wink.  

What I learned:

~I did not use water for these shots. I used an essential oil... which is expensive, so I would not recommend it. Next time I will use a cooking oil, but the viscosity did make the shot easier because the oil was more willing to stay put. 

~You most definitely need a dropper, hence why my choice of an essential oil. I intend to purchase a dropper, or two, for more experimentation. 

~Plenty of good light is essential. You will want your shutter speed high so that you can capture the droplet faster. 

~Using oil, once it drops, it is next to impossible to make another drop stay put in that perfectly rounded form. However, you can capture some really fun shots while the droplet slowly descends off its platform... 

As I mentioned before I did experiment with droplets falling off a petal. Some of them are okay, but none of them are fabulous enough to share here. That will be my next experiment. until then, this was my best shot. It's not a bad shot, but I really want to capture the droplet once it leaves the petal. 

What you'll need...

~A tripod is essential

~Either a shutter release, or a camera with a timer... optimally one that can take multiple shots at a time.

~Great light so that you can keep your ISO lower and your shutter speed higher... I used shutter priority to obtain my shots. 

~Then, you'll what some test run shots so that you can pinpoint where your focus should be. If you have not already learned how to set your focus point, you should pick up your camera manual today, right now, and learn how to do so. It will change your photographic life. 

~I was using AF-S (Auto Focus Single) but in hindsight I should have been using AF-C (Auto Focus Continuous). Again, if you are scratching your head thinking, "What is this lady taking about?" you really need to learn this, this year! No excuses. Matter of fact, here is a great article to get you started.

~Then shoot, shoot, shoot! you'll take tons of photos to obtain a few perfect shots. I am okay with that since one the digital world makes it is to cull and trash, but second becasue I do not deal with speed shots often, it'll take a while before I am comfortable enough with my skills alone to capture the shot. We all have to start some where. The key is to learn that way you do not sty in the rut of cull and trash and move forward to the everyday of using skills to create shots in as little shots as necessary. 

Cull- "That boring, obnoxious task of sifting though all the good, the bad, and the downright ugly in order to finally surface with a body of work worth looking at." ~ Lisa Robinson, Culling Photos: Five Tips to Choose Your Best Images

I'll be visiting these lovely communities this week... join along... Trough My Lens MondayImage-in-ing, Our World Tuesday, and Friday Photo Journal.

Life Thru the Lens with Lisa Kerner at Simply Living Photography


1. Share your life through the lens past, or present.

2. Grab my button and link back to this page, so others can find our community.

3.  Visit at least one person and create a community with them through encouraging comments.


~All forms of photography accepted… keep it family friendly please.

~Anyone with any photography skill can participate… we are all learning and growing.

~Any camera you take pictures with is acceptable… the best camera is the one in your hand.

~The link-up will open at 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time.