The macro lens.

Back in April, when I told a friend of mine I’d developed an interest in taking pictures of flowers, he said something about macro and Georgia O’Keeffe. I knew I’d heard the name Georgia O’Keeffe at some point in my life, but, I’m sorry to admit, I couldn’t remember who she was. And macro? What in the world was macro?

I still don’t know much about what I’m doing with my camera, but I’m learning little by little. Photography has joined poetry as my safe place–a retreat for my mind during these COVID-19 crazy times. And this morning, when I woke before sunrise and looked out my window to check the conditions in the eastern sky, I knew I’d have a fantastic day of creation. Why? The sky was clear, it was chilly enough for frost, and I would have my first opportunity, since adopting my newfound love, to take photos of ice crystals on my garden plants.

Frosty carpet rose leaves
© Ann Garcia November 2020

What does a macro filter do?

While reviewing an article posted on Expert Photography, I learned that the lens I’m attaching to my iPhone 11 to capture these images is not an actual macro lens. It’s a macro filter. A macro lens allows a photographer to capture photos of small objects that are visible to the eye, but hard to see. It picks up tiny details. Someday, I hope to have an amazing camera with a dedicated macro lens, but, for now, my inexpensive macro filter with a magnification 25x will do.

A macro filter is an attachment a photographer screws onto their regular camera lens. Macro filters have pros and cons, of course, and my images suffer from some of the cons (e.g., not as sharp), but I think my camera does quite well with an inexpensive macro filter.

So, this morning, I attached my CoPedvic macro filter to my iPhone and went into my garden.

A frosty dianthus
Frosty dianthus
© Ann Garcia November 2020

The lens picked up the lovely little ice crystals on my dianthus (which has been in bloom since spring, by the way). While the foreground of the image isn’t as crisp as it might be if this photo had been taken with a dedicated micro lens, it is crisp enough for my liking.

Notice the blur? That’s caused by shallow depth of field, according to another article posted on Expert Photography. Shallow depth of field means that only part of the image is in focus. Typically, the background is blurry, but sometimes the foreground is blurry. Check out the image of my May Night Salvia below. I’m in love with this image. In it, elements of foreground and background are blurry.

Frosty May Night Salvia
May Night Salvia
© Ann Garcia November 2020

Notice the blurred petal in the lower left quadrant? I find it to be a wonderful contrast to the delicate trichomes (hair-like outgrowths) on the plant behind it. And, of course, the blurred background provides a beautiful backdrop that doesn’t distract from the most important section of the image.

Little Mischief rose hip
Little Mischief rose hip
© Ann Garcia November 2020

Depth of field is affected by how close the camera is to the subject and how far the subject is from the background. When taking the image above, my phone camera was very close to the rose hip, which stuck up rather high from the rest of the rose plant and the ground beneath. All-in-all, this particular plant stands about 1.5 feet tall at the moment, and this rose hip was toward the top. Isn’t that contrast gorgeous?

Crimson carpet rose
© Ann Garcia November 2020

I’m not an expert, but I believe this image above provides an example of one of the limitations of my macro filter. I had to be very close to the rose to capture this image, and it is still blurry on the outer edges even though this flower is rather small (and not deep). The center of the image is sharp, but I’d hoped to capture more definition of the frost. I wonder if a dedicated macro lens would have given that frost more definition.

One thing I’ve learned when taking photos through a macro filter and through a telephoto filter/lens is that it is incredibly important to hold the camera still. At my age, it is very hard to hold still. It’s rather humbling to admit that photography has taught me I cannot hold still like I used to!

I watched a video in which a photographer noted how important it is to control your micro-shakes. Of course, a tripod and a timer can help reduce the issue of micro-shakes. And, it is important for me to take outdoor photos when it is not windy. (I’m sure there are cameras that can take pics when subjects are moving, but I have yet to learn about that stuff.) I’ve taken many ugly photos due to either moving subjects (too much wind) or my own micro-shakes.

Here are some of the other photos I took this morning while ensuring my camera was stabilized and while using a timer so that tapping the shutter button didn’t shake things up when the camera took the shot.

Frosty leaves of a Bird’s Nest Spruce
© Ann Garcia November 2020
Spent Little Mischief rose
Spent rose
© Ann Garcia November 2020
Little Mischief rose
Little Mischief rose
© Ann Garcia November 2020

This concludes my second post about photography. I love learning about this form of art. Speaking of art–did you need to look up Georgia O’Keeffe, too? (I hope you didn’t need to.) Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. She is known, in part, for her paintings of flowers.

Thank you for spending some time with me today. If you’re a photographer, I’d love to hear your thoughts about macro filters and macro lenses. I have much to learn. If you’re not a photographer, I’m curious what you think of this post. (And I hope you enjoyed the photos!)

Have a blessed day!