Project 365(6) Week 5 Wrap Up: January 25 - 31, 2016

It's hard to believe we have completed 31 days in the new year, and even harder to believe I actually managed to stick to my goal of posting one picture every day.  It is one of those rare times I've actually stuck with a goal.  

This week, I took a different approach to my Project 365(6) by giving myself a challenge to expand my macro skills.  In other words, the goal this week was to take extreme close up images of small items.  It's actually quite a bit trickier than it looks, and I learned some interesting things and definitely sharpened a few skills along the way.

Week 5: January 25 - 31, 2016

In which I learn that I love macro photography.  And that practice makes perfect.

In which I learn that I love macro photography.  And that practice makes perfect.

1. This image is what started my challenge.  I had not set out with a goal for the week, just to continue finding the most interesting part of the day and recording it.  While waiting for my son to finish his piano lesson, I noticed this plant outside of the studio and thought the flower was lovely.  I happened to have my macro lens (105mm) on my camera, so I took this image. My focus was on one of the flowers itself, which put everything else out of focus - depth of field tends to be quite shallow with macro work.  In retrospect, I should have closed down the aperture a bit more to sharpen focus, but the light was waning and I did not have my speedlight with me.  Lesson learned.  However, it's still an interesting image and got my brain wondering how else I might be able to use the lens.  Hence, the macro challenge was born.
2.  Pyramid salt on vintage blue milk glass.  Very very tricky to focus properly, even with the salt all on the same plane - there is just too much depth in each of those little pyramids to be able to focus on more than one small point on each.  I tried various apertures, but this one still looked the best.  My favorite part is the reflection of each little pyramid on the blue milk glass.  I used an LED ring on my lens to light this.
3.  We had a lot of wind and rain this day, which brought down lots of little branches from all the oak trees in our development.  I've always admired the little micro plants that grow on these branches, and thought this would be an interesting medium to photograph.  I brought one home and liked the spiny little shrubs the most, so I focused on those.  I purposely kept the depth of field shallow because it really shows off the lines of these little plants and gave the rest of the image a dreamy quality.  I used my LED ring light once again here.
4.  Oh, this image.  There is a story there for sure.  I had seen a photographer share a similar image the week prior, and thought this week would be a great opportunity to attempt replicating the technique.  On day 3 (Wednesday) I spent a good two hours setting up backdrop, getting the water to drip just right, managing focus, getting the lighting to work, etc. and then took over 200 images until I felt I understood what I was doing.  I did get a few lovelies, but the backdrop colors were not my favorite and I still felt that I could improve upon the focus.  So I set everything else up again when I knew I could take the time to do it, fully expecting it to take forever like it had the day before.  Took me 3 minutes.  I was floored!  Not to mention happy :)  The backdrop here is a traditional Turkish scarf called a yemeni, which I describe in further detail below.  This was lit with a bare speedlight.  
5.  This is a detail image of the handmade lace edge of the traditional Turkish yemeni scarf.  The lace is called oya and is traditionally handmade with a small needle or crochet hook and sewn on the scarf.  There are machine-made versions of oya as well, but I have always preferred the handmade versions because they are so unique.  I loved how this image showed how one section could vary from another.  Lit with my LED ring light.
6.  This is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry - a handmade pendant filled with dried flowers and set in resin.  I've always loved it and thought a closeup of its contents would be a wonderful challenge.  I purposely kept the depth of field quite shallow to focus on only the bottom portion of the pendant and let the rest fall off into creamy, dreamyland.  Lit with my LED ring light, you can see a reflection of it on the very bottom top of the pendant.  It bothered me at first, but then I decided it added visual interest and dimension, so I didn't try to do a different image.
7.  The last image of macro week - a reflection of sheet music (actually, it's just scrapbook paper) on the convex side of a spoon.  This is a common type of image in macro photography, and one I wanted to see if I could replicate.  I chose the sheet music look because I felt the leading lines would work beautifully.  I adore this image so much, it's so visually interesting, has some wonderful lines, and the lighting worked out pretty well. I do see a reflection of my LED ring light on the spoon, but again, I felt it provided some depth and visual interest, so I did not let it bother me.  

Takeaways:
Beauty and interest can be found in even the smallest of spaces, you just need to know where to look.  I have a long (and ever expanding) list of subjects I would like to photograph, so another macro week will probably be coming up soon!  

Until next week...