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The Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is an excellent oasis along the Anacostia River. Known for the beautiful lotus flowers that grow there, the gardens also offer an abundance of wildlife. From multiple types of heron and other birds, to frogs and turtles, even to woodchucks; it’s hard to find anywhere else inside DC that has such a diversity of life…besides the zoo. And if you ever go to the Aquatic Gardens, one of the first things you’ll see are the dragonflies.

Elyse got a great close up, where we can make out the face of the insect. A true macro photograph, all of the fine details of the bug pop out: the transparent wings, the elongated body, and large eyes. In fact, those eyes, which seem to be looking right into the camera, are what make this photo so powerful. And the background is blurred perfectly, which helps to focus our attention right where it should be, on the dragonfly. Truly, excellent work.

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Macro photography can open up a whole new world. While the macro level of measurement is simply what we can see, when used to describe photography the word describes an extreme close-up of very small item. And as you can see from Kim’s picture, it can show an amazing amount of detail that is nearly invisible to the casual observer. I’m not even sure what type of flower this is, but from this perspective it looks like something that evolved on another world.

A photographer can do macro photography using a number of different tools and techniques. The simplest and most direct way is to use specialty macro lenses. The draw back of these lenses are they are very expensive. A simpler way is to use close-up filters (basically magnifying glasses that screw onto the camera lens) to magnify a zoom lens. While this way is significantly cheaper, it’s also reduces the quality of the image. Yet another way is to achieve macro photographs is to reverse a zoom lens on the camera; think of it like looking the wrong way through a pair of binoculars. This is obviously very cheap as you are using a readily available lens, but it is complicated to get everything working right. These are just a few ways, so if you’re interested in trying this, check out the link at the start of the paragraph. It can open a whole new world of photography to you!

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‘tiny eyes are watching you’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

For me, the only thing more fascinating than interesting pictures, are interesting pictures of very small things. Macrophotography, or close-up photography of small objects, can reveal a world of amazing detail. Really, such photography is limited only by the tools of the photographer.

Take the above picture from philliefan99. Clearly the four eyes of the spider are visible, along with their unique size and shape. You’re even capable of seeing the individual hairs on the legs and body of the creepy crawly. Would you notice such details if this were to scurry onto your leg right now?

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DC1_9191
by Spodie Odie

When I first became interested in photography I was obsessed with doing macro work.  A friend of mine who is a Nikon guy (the horror!) showed me the results he was getting with his macro lens and I was sold right away.  Not long after I purchased what is still one of my favorite lenses, my 180mm macro lens, and to the flower gardens I went.  I got some strange looks as I walked around my neighborhood with a tripod, a giant lens, and a shutter release cable, however when I made journeys to the National Arboretum or to Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens, I found photographers decked out in camouflage with gear that put mine to shame.

If you find yourself getting hooked on macro photography, be prepared to buy some serious gear.  This great shot by Spodie Odie was taken with a Nikon D300 and what I’m guessing is their 60mm micro lens.  A tripod is a definite must for macro work too because the closer you get to your subject, the more every tiny move is amplified.  Using a shutter release cable and mirror lockup (if your camera supports it) allows you to minimize the amount of camera movement generated by the shutter opening and closing as well as the shake in your hands.  If you really want to go off the deep end you can buy extension tubes and special macro flashes which can achieve some amazing results.  Soon you’ll be seeing detail in nature that you never knew existed before.

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New Years Resolution by Pete…E

2008 has come and gone, bringing us a brand new year to start afresh.  Many of us make resolutions, like joining a gym, traveling more, and the ever popular “quitting smoking”.  Others refuse to partake in such foolish things because they know they don’t have the will power to follow through.  I myself don’t see any reason to make life changes on a particular day since there are 364 other days that will work just as well.

When I first started shooting, my passion was in macro photography.  I love seeing intricate details in things, whether it be a flower or a cigarette, that you may have never noticed.  The pack of smokes above actually looks beautiful in a way, an army of cigarettes packed tightly into a crisp, mass produced box.  The sepia treatment adds a little bit of sex to the shot, but don’t be tempted – you’re quitting remember?

If you’d like to try your hand at macro photography you’ll likely want to buy a macro lens (if I could marry my 180mm I would), a tripod, and a shutter release cable to keep the movement of your camera to a minimum.  Also, experiment with different apertures to put more or less of your subject in focus.  And as always, make sure to post your results in our Flickr pool.