Blog Archives

Through the “Macro”-scope

Every once in a while a photo comes along that just generates attention. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of those since I started shooting. But I’ve never had an experience like I’ve had with the shot shown here.

I received my Canon EF-S 60mm Macro lens last week on a day when I had a lot going on. I thought about waiting until I got home later, going through the whole unboxing thing, documenting the whole process and writing about it here over a period of time…but unfortunately, as Jimmy Buffett once said, “the temptation got the best of me.” So I decided to take a few test shots before I took off for an appointment.

I’ve concluded that there are several distinct categories of macro photography, including plants (mostly flowers) and insects. But the category that has always fascinated me the most is water droplet photography. Because of that, in addition to the household shortage of insects (fortunate) and flowers (unfortunate, at least in the eyes of The Cake Lady), I turned the faucet on and let it drip. And this is what I got…Image

As you can see, there’s a few drops here. The main drop at the bottom of the frame is my favorite, because you can see evidence there (to those who’ve been in my house) that it was really taken here. But the drops coming off the faucet, just out of frame at the top, give it some depth that the bottom drop by itself wouldn’t have presented.

Technically, there’s no real surprises here. All of the typical rules apply–if you want to stop motion, you need to have a relatively fast shutter speed (in this case, 1/250 second). To ensure this fast shutter I took this picture in Shutter Priority mode, or Tv, as Canon designates it. I used the on-camera flash to illuminate the scene because I didn’t really have time to get out my speedlite–I suspect this would have been an even more interesting shot with off-camera flash. The camera picked an aperture of F/2.8, giving the wonderful “bokeh” or blurred background. (For the rest of the technical, I had an ISO of 400, that I think I set manually, and the exposure was centered.) I set a high-speed burst mode, turned on a trickle of water, and shot a hundred frames. Literally. Just about ten at a time, without really even looking.

One of the more inspiring photographers I’ve followed over the past couple of years, Martin Bailey (find him at, occasionally opines that luck plays a great role in certain types of photography. There’s no question that I got really lucky with this shot. Good gear, good setup, a bit of patience, and the right technique put me in position to get the image, that’s for sure; but if the water hadn’t dropped the way it did, this shot would have been as ordinary as the other ninety-nine. Instead, I have six separate requests for prints of this image. It’s a real thrill for someone like me–who never was an artist–when someone asks if they can have a print of one of my shots. If that’s what luck does–I’ll take it!

I know I still owe the report on the 60D. Fact is, I’m still learning, and I don’t yet feel qualified to report on it. All I can say is, it’s coming–I promise.