Wilderness Underfoot: Taking nature photos, Part 4: More cool tricks

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11690638934532.jpg’, ”, ‘Super close-up photography: Your camera probably comes with a close-up feature that allows you to focus on subjects within several inches. But what if you want to magnify something that’s quite tiny, such as a bug? The answer is simple—use a hand lens (a magnifying glass). Use any kind you want, any power. Keep the hand lens right next to the camera, and then move closer and farther from your subject until it comes into focus on the LCD screen (the camera’s auto-focus usually can’t adjust to the additional lens without your help; that’s why you have to adjust the camera distance).Don’t use your camera at all: That’s right, put the camera away for this trick. It’s often easier to get good photos of certain subjects simply by using your computer’s scanner. You can scan leaves, small plants, dead bugs (and slow-moving live ones) or feathers. Place a thin piece of acetate, glass or acrylic on your scanner’s glass plate to protect it from scratches, especially if you scan abrasive objects such as bones, shells, rocks or fossils. Use a weighted piece of fabric to hold flexible objects flat. Scanners are often capable of focusing on objects with a fair amount of depth.’);

More digital picture-taking tricks for the amateur nature photographer

Recycle old camera filters: Do you have leftover filters from an old 35 mm film camera? Use them on your digital camera. Sure, they probably won’t snap on properly, but that doesn’t matter. Simply hold them in place over the lens when you’re shooting photos with your digital camera. Filters for color, gradients, polarizing, magnification and special effects will often work just as well as they did on the old camera. A word of caution: Be careful not to allow anything to contact the actual glass lens of your camera—otherwise, it may be scratched (repairing a non-changeable lens is often more costly than buying a new camera).

Instant impressionism for the non-artist: This is a fun way to bring out your inner Monet. All you need is a piece of textured glass—the kind used in doors and windows to obscure the view. Glass with smooth ripples works best, but crystals, dimples and other textures create interesting effects. This trick is most effective when used on colorful subjects within a few feet of the camera, such as flowers or autumn leaves. Turn off the flash, place the textured glass in front of the subject, and then snap your picture. Voilà! Instant Monet! Experiment by placing the textured glass at various distances—the closer it is to the subject, the more detail you get.

Super close-up photography: Your camera probably comes with a close-up feature that allows you to focus on subjects within several inches. But what if you want to magnify something that’s quite tiny, such as a bug? The answer is simple—use a hand lens (a magnifying glass). Use any kind you want, any power. Keep the hand lens right next to the camera, and then move closer and farther from your subject until it comes into focus on the LCD screen (the camera’s auto-focus usually can’t adjust to the additional lens without your help; that’s why you have to adjust the camera distance).

Don’t use your camera at all: That’s right, put the camera away for this trick. It’s often easier to get good photos of certain subjects simply by using your computer’s scanner. You can scan leaves, small plants, dead bugs (and slow-moving live ones) or feathers. Place a thin piece of acetate, glass or acrylic on your scanner’s glass plate to protect it from scratches, especially if you scan abrasive objects such as bones, shells, rocks or fossils. Use a weighted piece of fabric to hold flexible objects flat. Scanners are often capable of focusing on objects with a fair amount of depth.

From the Jan. 17-23, 2007, issue

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