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Problem picture #15

What's wrong with this picture?


What tips would you provide to improve this picture?
What tips would you provide to improve this picture?

Duane Leamer recently wrote: "This is a picture of my first attempt at macro photography. I recently purchased a digital camera and just started playing with the macro capability. Any tips for me?"

DO YOU SEE WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED?

Here is our reply to Duane:

For a first attempt, you did a lot of things right. Congratulations. But, the image has some problems, too:

1. Unless you were limited by your macro lens' ability, you should have gotten closer to fill the frame and eliminate much of the distracting background. Almost all backgrounds in macro work are out of focus, so anything that appears to have form or a pattern in the background will either add to or detract from your picture. Unless it improves the image, you should try to eliminate it. The best way is generally to get closer, but getting closer can often further reduce the depth of field, placing less of your subject in focus. Another method is to get lower, perhaps allowing more of the sky or further away objects to become the background. Getting lower with tiny subjects is generally a good idea, anyway, since it brings the viewer more into their world. You're seeing them as they see their surroundings, at their level. As a last resort, when you feel you just have to take the picture before your subject flies away, you can crop the image later (as shown on the right below) to eliminate unnecessary features.

Duane's image on the left. Edited picture on the right.
Duane's image on the left. Edited picture on the right.

2. Unlike properly-exposed slide film, most digital images don't come straight from the camera looking exactly as we would like them to. They often need some form of digital manipulation to bring their brightness, contrast and colors back to reality. Your original looks dull and needs more contrast. It also looks a bit washed out and can use some brightening and a slight increase in saturation.

3. A good rule of thumb in all photography is to ensure that the center of interest is in focus, unless it improves the composition by purposefully being placed out of focus. In your picture, the wasp's center of interest is its eye, as it is with most creatures. Your subject's eye is out of focus - just slightly, but enough to call it a flaw. You should try to ensure that at least one eye is in focus, either by refocusing or by increasing depth of field.

4. Your image is a vertical image, yet you photographed it horizontally. Notice how cropping to a vertical format increases the compositional strength of the picture. The strong diagonal lines give the picture a dynamism that should be capitalized on. Consider the camera's orientation next time you are shooting a subject or scene that is taller than it is wide, and rotate the camera to capture it vertically.


 
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