Green Leaf

by Steph
(Scottish Borders)



Taken in our garden using the macro setting on my Optio S7 Pentax digital camera

(For convenience, all links below open in new windows)
I do like a nature shot. There is something about all that greenery that seems to tickle my caveman roots!

Photos like this need good strong colours, and it’s good to see that Steph’s photo has nice rich greens. I also like the darkness of the shadows – they really frame the leaf nicely.

But being the photo tutor section of the site, what we are really about here is offering tips on how to improve photos. So what tips can we offer here . . .

Well, Steph says he took this photo using the camera’s macro setting. I have talked about 'macro' in a technical sense here before, so I won’t go into that again. Click for a technical definition of macro.

But what I will mention is the issue of depth of focus. When using the macro setting the depth of focus (the amount of the photo that is in focus) is very shallow. This makes focussing difficult! Click to read more about depth of field.

Steph’s photo is a bit soft, not pin sharp. To avoid this there are a couple of things to do.

First, use the camera’s focussing points. Wait for the camera to properly focus (usually you’ll hear a beep), and then take the photo. Don’t take the photo until it has focussed, as all you’ll get is an out of focus shot.

Once the camera has focussed the second thing is to keep very still. With such a shallow depth of field any movement either forwards or backwards will cause softness. It’s because the camera has already focussed on its point, then you moved a little, but the camera didn’t re-focus.

When shooting in macro even the slightest movement will make a difference.

If you can’t keep rock still either use a tripod, or look for a 'servo' setting on your camera. This setting is designed to force the lens to continue focussing in order to track movement. Be warned though – some cameras don’t have this ability, and some of those that do only have it in certain modes ('sports' mode, for example).

One other things about Steph’s photo that could improve it is the small 'bits' of what I can only describe as 'stuff' that are sitting on it – the white spots.

These take the eye off the composition a little, and are easily removed by using the clone tool. Click to read how to repair photos with the clone tool.

Hope there are a few tips here, and thanks Steph for the submission.


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Return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, May 2008.