Thursday, March 11, 2010

Koencho Sum Khenno!


  1. Wow! Great Capture...I wish i could borrow your technique to photographing.
    Yeshey, I'm also interested in taking picture of plants (Especially close shot). I couldn't affort the expensive camera so i landed up with "Cannon Powershot S5 IS". It has the macro of 1 cm (according to manual)and 12X optical zoom. I have been using the camera for nearly two years and I'm still wondering how to gain correct focus of the plants, for close shots. For example, while i take the picture of small flowers, the main theme gets blured and background objects comes clear.
    I'm wondering if there is certain techniques or it comes only after years of experience. But sometime i tend to get satisfactory result.
    I shall appreciate if you could kindly share some knowledge on handling such stuff.

  2. Hi Sangay

    Thanks for your comment.

    It would appear that your interest is in “macro” photography which revolves around taking close up pictures of flowers and insects and other small objects. This is a tough field but the results can be very rewarding. However, because of the specialized nature of the work and techniques involved, you need specialized equipment. At the least, you need a true macro lens and a SLR body – if you are serious about your passion.

    The Cannon “Powershot S5 IS” is a good camera but it is a point-and-shoot camera designed primarily for the gawk-eyed tourists whose purpose of photography is to capture memories of their travel. Actually, these cameras do quite well in the area of wider depth of field (DoF). They shoot pretty sharp photos too – as long as your objective is to get everything sharp. The trouble is, as you have experienced, you DO NOT WANT everything in the frame sharp and in focus. That is where the point-and-shoot cameras fail – poor DoF manipulation. Most times, you want the subject or object of interest in sharp focus but everything else surrounding it thrown out of focus. This is how you separate the subject from the clutter of the foreground and the background. The efficient manipulation of the DoF is what makes your image stand out. Take a relook at my photograph of the “Koencho Sum Khenno” girl and you will see what I mean. The girl is in acceptable focus and the sharpness is even through out. Take a look at the child’s right elbow and the left elbow – two points that are the closest and the furthest. You will notice that they are both even in sharpness and focus. If you look at the background, you will think that there was a grey sheet hung behind her which is not true. Some people may think that I Photohop’d the image – not true. This is all about correct DoF.

  3. Regarding your question about some of your image being soft and the background being sharp, I am more than certain that it is a result of wrong or inaccurate focusing. This I think is happening because you are too close to the subject and out of the camera’s focusing range and thus the camera’s AF is picking up the closest object it is able to focus on and setting the focus there. You are so engrossed that all you can hear is the focus lock beep and not really seeing where the focus has been set because at that close range, the frame is so bright that you cannot really see if the AF point is being lit on the area where you want the focus to be.

    To make sure that you are focusing on the area that you want to, try and stay a little further away than your camera’s closest focusing distance. This has one added advantage – it will give your wider DoF which means your sharpness will be lot more even. My experience is that managing DoF in macro photography is truly frustrating primarily because you have to be so close to the subject. That is why, when I am serious about macro, I use a 180mm macro lens and a camera body of 1.6 crop factor. The combination of these two gives me the scope to shoot closer from a longer distance.

    Regarding sharpness, given that you are using a point-and-shoot camera, I am not sure if the camera has a “Manual” mode. If it has, then do your shooting in the Manual mode and not “Auto” or “P” mode. Manual mode gives you greater control over the final outcome you want. Use a higher f stop – upwards of f14 - higher the better. But higher f stop means slower shutter speed which amplifies camera shake. Thus no way you can shoot good images handholding your camera. This means that you need to use a tripod. But because your camera is so small that when you depress the shutter release button, even if the camera is mounted on a tripod, you cause a shake – I have experienced this myself with my Canon G10. So I would suggest that to keep the camera rock still and to avoid a shake during the shutter release, mount the camera on a tripod and use a shutter release cable to take the shot. By the way, I also use a shutter release cable on my Canon 50D – when I am seriously shooting macro.

    To conclude, if you are serious about macro photography, please consider upgrading your camera gear to a DSLR system. If you are constrained for tiru, I am sure that you can buy used gear for less than half their original price. For a suggestion, please look for:

    Body : Canon 50D/Canon Rebel T1i
    Lense: Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

    Focusing: I follow just one rule: I position myself smack parallel to the subject I am focusing on and if possible, vertically as well! Then I visualize the centre of the object and focus there and, hopefully, the distance between the centre to the furthest point and centre to the closest point where I placed my focus is equal. If I get that right, then I know that I have an evenly sharp image otherwise I get a soft image and I have to try it all over again one year later! Ofcourse there are so many other factors that will ruin things for you.

    One other thing I need to point out – take your eyes very, very close to the flower and see that the bugger is still and not fluttering like a butterfly – not even like a sloth. If it is fluttering, forget the shot! If it is fluttering, whatever you do, you will end up getting an image that looks more like whipped cream instead of a flower.

  4. Hi Yeshey,
    Thank you so much for the detailed information. I appreciated for the time you took to reply me.
    I'm thinking of upgrading my camera. Yeah! I'm really interested in taking close shots of plants and insects.
    Thanks you again, APPRECIATED.

  5. Dear Sangay,

    The pleasure is entirely mine :)

  6. Ah, another beautiful little babe. You do find the most precious ones.
    ~ Echo

  7. Hi Echo

    Great that you like it :)

  8. What (which lens) did you use for this shot la? I have a Canon 40D and a Canon 18-200mm f 3.5 IS lens.

  9. Hi Lakey,

    I used the following:

    Body: Canon 1DS Mark III
    Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM.

    The subject was shot in Trashiyangtsi.

  10. Many thanks for the response.

    Would have to hit a jackpot to be able to own that! Ha Ha. Keep shooting, and of course, posting!

  11. Oh man! just so adorable! Sonam ~

  12. Aue Yeshey, it's the works like yours that make me proud to be a Drup. I am amazed by your skill at photography -obviously your passion- and the knowledge about the subjects of your photos. I relish looking at your labour-of-love but more so for the fact that a Bhutanese has done it! Thank you for putting the effort to share them.

  13. Thanks Anonymous for your kind words.