In my quest to improve as a photographer, one of the more challenging areas has been shooting in low light and night photography. This is where faster lenses and the ability to manually operate a camera makes a difference. Programmed settings and auto-focus quickly become unusable due to the amount of available light. And a slower lens can often leave one disappointed with blurry pictures because of longer exposure times. While I don’t think you need the best equipment on the market. A good camera body and a lens that shoots at an aperture of 2.8 or higher is needed to prevent blur from the longer exposure times of a slower lens. Most of my low light photography is done with a Sigma 17-50 mm lens. I find that a lens with optical stabilization and large optics work well for me. And the ability to operate your equipment without having to see the controls all of the time is needed to achieve sharp pictures. The long exposure times warrant having a rock solid tripod. Being a budget minded photographer that still looks for quality, I have found that the Pantan Q6-Plus is very good. I have used this tripod for outdoor photography in 30 mph winds and it didn’t move. It is heavier than a carbon fiber tripod, but I have found that if you are not carrying it very far it works great and is easy to use. And I can hang other equipment off of it without it affecting the performance of the tripod.
There is also a plethora of other equipment that I have found to be useful at different times in low light photography. Some of my favorite accessory equipment is a good remote shutter release to ensure that I don’t shake the camera and change the focus. I have tried several different releases and the ones that I use are the Pixel Pro shutter release and a Neewer cabled shutter release. I find that a mini-level and a small flashlight are also very helpful in setting up for shots and ensuring that I am level with the horizon. And this list of other accessories and equipment for different situations is only limited by one’s creativity and budget. With this equipment I find that I can get solid results without breaking the bank. So, come play in the dark and always remember to “shoot the world with light.”
What’s really needed for macro photography? Well, it depends on what you are photographing and how you desire to tell the story with the picture. Macro photography has many facets and ways to get high quality pictures. The best tool you can have is patience during the process. I don’t like to stage pictures in nature so the amount of equipment that I use in the field is limited because of time constraints and the fact that I also have a limited budget. But that shouldn’t limit one’s ability to get some good shots with basic equipment. I use a basic dslr camera a and zoom lens for most of my macro shots. A solid 100mm, 1:1 macro lens is a good choice for a starter lens.
For me it’s more about the hunt for good subjects and being quick enough to get a good focus to capture the shot. Having an almost still day and the perseverance to take a lot of shots are the keys to getting a couple of good ones. Knowing that a high percentage of them may be unusable due wind and weather conditions. Or the subject not cooperating makes the challenge all the sweeter for me when I get a good, usable shot. I find that, I rarely have enough time to properly position more than a tripod and a small flash before the shot is gone.
I have researched other methods that utilize lots of equipment in the process. Some use multiple flexible lights and alligator clips on flexible arms to hold grass and or flower stems in place or out of the way. But to get the desired shot they would also capture the desired subject and partially freeze it so that it would come back to life slowly. And they still may not get the desired shot.
Another cheap technique for getting close to a subject is to use a reverse mounting ring for a shorter lens. This allows your lens to magnify the subject or subjects if you are trying to include a distant subject for perspective in the shot. To try this out you can place a penny or other small object in front of the lens that sits in front of a larger distant object like a hill or a tree. This can take some practice to get the desired effect.
With any type of photography, the post production can be the most fun and challenging to get the results that you desire for the story that you want the picture to tell. My go to program is Luminar 4. To see its wide range of Ai capabilities, use this link. https://skylum.grsm.io/paulpaschke7169. It is a lifetime subscription and it is updated frequently. I find that it is easy to use and it has a lot of the tools that other more expensive or subscription-based programs have. I invite you to come and explore the world of macro photography. However, you choose to see the world with macro photography, always “shoot the world with light.” And drop me line with your favorite shots of the small world around us.