On Lookout

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


This guy was on my porch, on top of a plant. He wouldn’t move at first so I took a few shots before he few away.

Specific Feedback

This is not a very sharp pic. How should I have set up my camera?

Technical Details

Canon 5DsR, 100mm macro, 200 ISO

Great pose though. I especially like the crazy wing angle. You didn’t list your actual camera settings, so I don’t know if you had any of these dialed in and I’m not familiar with your exact camera, but here are some settings that I use for handheld macro -

Single focus point - I will position it to the most important element of the subject. In this case it’s the eye.

Stabilization - all hands on deck! Lens and in-body, everything will help. Also camera handling - make sure your elbows are in and even use your face as a third contact point to keep the rig steady.

Viewfinder magnification - when I acquire focus, the viewfinder or back screen automatically enlarges to fill the frame with the focus point I’ve selected. It helps a lot and I did this when I had a DSLR since there is no focus peaking to help.

Fast shutter speed - especially if you’re not using a flash which will freeze the action for you even if the shutter speed isn’t high. You’ll need to compensate for your own movement which at these magnifications can look worse than for wider angles. You also need to compensate for the movement of your subject. Darn critters just won’t take direction!

Raise your ISO - don’t be afraid to go higher than your base ISO to get the shutter speeds you need to freeze movement. With proper exposure and modern noise reduction software, you’ll get usable images with good detail if everything else aligns.

Use a flash - I was a latecomer to flash and it’s a great help, especially for just a touch of fill to even things out in direct sun like you have here. It takes some practice, but the results can be quite pleasing and natural. The microsecond flash itself freezes the action and so shutter speeds can be lower and so can ISO.

I hope that helps. Macro with live subjects is a whole other technical challenge that takes some “seat time” as my track driving instructors always said. The more you do it, the better you get!

1 Like

Kris, This all great advise. As a novice I need all the help and advise I can get. For the most part, I’m self taught on my camera so I’m really grateful for the help and advise. I really like macro because you see what others don’t. I didn’t use a flash on this but I understand how helpful it is and I’ll start using it. From looking at everybody’s pics, I can see I 'm going to have to learn stacking as well. I raise Butterflies so I have subjects to work on for most of the year. I will also work on setting ISO and shutter speed. When I can, I adjust my camera settings while taking shots to see what comes out, (my learning process).
Thanks for all the great advise. I’ll keep trying to take photos like the ones I see posted.
Like you say , “seat time”. I understand that.
“I’ll be back”.

Stacking can help, but you don’t necessarily need to start with it. Mastering technique and upping your hit rate with single frames could give you more immediate results that you like. Stacking has its own learning curves both for field capture and processing. Plus using the specialized software takes more time to produce the final image, so there’s that to consider, too. For most of my handheld work, I’m not stacking although I will sometimes take a few images with different focus points to see if I can stack them. My goal though is a single shot that works - if the group shots will stack, it’s a bonus, if that makes sense.

John, I really love the pose and the title. I wish it was sharper but @_Kris has given you some excellent advice for future shots. Looking forward to more. It is a learning process. You don’t know how many missed shots I have taken over the years, and still do get them when I am so excited about the subject I forget to check my settings.

Oh yeah, @Shirley_Freeman - if I posted all the crappy photos I’ve taken of very small things, we’d have a flood, a tsunami - an inundation of out of focus and terrible images. But like you and John, it’s the discovery of the unseen that macro gives us that keeps us going and learning to do better. I’m guilty of having bad settings too because I’m just too jazzed at seeing whatever tiny thing is letting me get close. Maybe we should have a bloopers thread to make everyone see that it’s normal to have a ton of terrible shots for every one that’s good. Not that I’m saying your shot is terrible, John, but it isn’t perfect and getting those is harder than people think.

1 Like

Thanks Shirley, Kris has given me a lot to think about. I like your vote of confidence.
I was and do get excited a bit. I’ll keep shooting.

I get it Kris, my last post of the black wasp was better than this one. I know I didn’t have my camera set right as well as not using flash. Learning curve. Thanks again.

I’m going to treat myself to an early Christmas present and get PS. I let my subscription lapse. I know how to use a little of it. Again learning.

1 Like

Hi John,

Don’t be afraid of cranking up the ISO in order to eliminate motion blur. One trick is to use a shutter speed the reciprocal of the focal length of your lens which will eliminate most or all of the blur produced by camera shake. For example, when using my 105mm micro, the minimum handheld shutter speed will be 1/100 or faster. If I have good light, I will also shoot as fast as possible with a compromise with ISO. The depth of field decreases based upon the total area that the lens sees. So depth of field will be very shallow at 1:1 or higher magnification so use smaller apertures from f8 to f22. For quick moving insects, I will use autofocus, but most of the time I will make adjustments with manual focus. Your photo has some noise and that can be taken care of with software. Otherwise you have a good start and keep posting…Jim

Thanks Jim, from what I’ve read about you and your critique’s this means a lot. That little critter was moving.
Yes, I’m gonna keep pluggin.

1 Like

Hi John :slight_smile:

The advice and encouragement that Kris and others have provided is valuable information!

I thought I’d download your image and do a little noise reduction and minor sharpening just to demonstrate the power of using post processing software, mostly denoise and sharpening in this case.

I used Topaz Denoise and Topaz Sharpen but Lightroom and Photoshop have very good noise reduction and sharpening tools as well.
Learning PS (Photoshop) or similar software is almost a must if your goal is to make the most out of your images and hard work of making the composition.

I noticed that the color space of your image is untagged which means that the standard sRGB color space hadn’t been assigned during the export process. sRGB color space is the standard color space that allows everyone to see the image the same way no matter what device they’re using (like an iPad, laptop, desktop, phone, etc…)

Here is an example of what your image looks like after noise reduction and sharpening, just imagine what it might look like if the focus was sharp in the RAW version :slight_smile:

BTW, other than the soft focus, this is a terrific shot! Love the pose! :slight_smile:

Hi Mervin, WOW what a difference. I posted this shot without any post software because I didn’t have any software at the time. I just resubscribed to PS. I’m learning that as well. I’m going to play with this shot myself and try to make it better. That would have been a GREAT shot if I’d … Baby steps for now.


Hi John,

I’m glad to know that you have re-subscribed to Ps, as a note, that Adobe package comes with Lightroom (Lr) as well so, you get both for the same price which is a pretty good deal in my view.
Lr has the best options for noise reduction but keep in mind that to take full advantage of the power of noise reduction in Lr, it needs to be done to the RAW image rather than a jpeg or tiff.
I commonly use Topaz Denoise for member posted jpegs as I did with your image here because Lr and Ps do best at the RAW stage, not so much with jpeg.

And remember to set the Export As in Ps to sRGB color space.
If you need help with that part just let me know and I will post a couple of screenshots for you.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to a YouTube video that does a good job of describing how to use Lr for noise reduction. Link>>> Amazing Noise Reduction in Lightroom and Photoshop

Thanks for the response, John -)

Hi again, John

I decided to go ahead and do some screen captures that illustrate how to assign sRGB as the “Export As” color space for you.
It can be a bit daunting without some sort of visual reference material (at least it is for me :roll_eyes: )

I took the liberty to denoise and sharpen your Redtail Hawk image as well.

Here’s your Redtail Hawk image.

1st step to assign export (destination) color space.

2nd step.

3rd step.

Final step.
In this final step, make sure the boxes are checked inside that red oval.

Anyway, I hope this helps! :slight_smile:

Edit: Don’t pay too much attention to the odd colors in the screen captures, the screen capture I use hadn’t been corrected for this demo.
I should figure out how to automatically correct the screen capture’s color space. Lol :slight_smile:

Thanks Mervin, I’ll set it up These steps will help.

1 Like