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nylascotia68's avatar

Camera and Lens aperature and focus speed for a nature shot?

Asked by nylascotia68 (76points) March 18th, 2016

I have a tree that releases pollen in puffs of smoke I would like to capture a photo of this. My late brother was a photographer and left me all his equipment but no “know how”, does anyone know what F-stop and lens aperature would work to get a photo of this natural shot, during the day?

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13 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Not enough info. What kind of equipment do you have?

Not knowing anything else you want a fast shutter speed and fast lens.

nylascotia68's avatar

My Camera is a Nikon D 70 and the lenses are Sigma 150mm, Nikon AF Nikkor 70–210mm 1:4–5.6D, AF Nikkor 18–35mm1:3.5–4.5D,
plus something in a case that says Nikon on the front and CP-8 on the back and appears to be a filter of some sort.

Rarebear's avatar

Any with a macro zoom option?

nylascotia68's avatar

Yes, The 15mm 1:2.8 APO Macro DG HSM D is and it has a handle on the side of the lens.

nylascotia68's avatar

I am not certain which I need to capture the moment that the pollen is released it is really beautiful, I am certain allergy sufferers would disagree, but I would love just to capture that moment. I simply do not know what I should do to get that shot.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

I’m presuming that you’ve seen the process as it occurs during the day, and it’s not a “micro” event (which paradoxically calls for the macro lens), so I’m going to opine that the 70 – 220 mm telephoto will do well, provided the lighting is right.

Do you have a tripod? Because that’s probably a pretty heavy lens to be holding the camera steady and waiting for the event, and a tripod and cable release are going to be the best ways to get a rock-steady shot.

Aside from that setup, the camera itself probably has internal information regarding the light exposure. Is this a digital or film camera? If it’s a digital model, then I would also assume that you can just set up for the shot, wait for it, set the exposure to Automatic and let the camera take care of the exposure. Especially if it’s digital, then you can review and decide whether you need more light, more or less depth of field, more time or less, etc.

With a film camera, I would recommend bracketing exposures once you have the recommended values set by the camera’s exposure meter. (Even my 40-year-old Fuji film camera will help me set up the shot once I set the film speed and exposure time, then play with the f-stops. Surely a more modern Nikon can beat that.)

If you’ve never played with f-stops before, the smaller numbers mean wider lens aperture opening and faster shutter speeds (less time required for the exposure, as more light enters the lens through the wider opening), but also give you the shallowest depth of field, which will probably aid the effect that you’re trying to achieve. You don’t want to capture “the whole tree”, but “the section of the tree where the event occurs”, and leave the rest sort of out of focus so the eye is drawn to what is in focus.

It has been so long since I’ve shot with my old telephoto that I can’t recall if you’ll be forced to use the higher f-stops or not. So, play with it.

kritiper's avatar

Since the pollen is moving, I’d think you’d want a rather fast shutter speed, at least 1/500. The range might be something you can calculate quite well so I would use an f-stop of 8 or 11. Focus on the tree trunk. Of course, this is bright sunlight, good color/contrast with tree and background, no snow or white/light colored sand on the ground. Using film? ASA 400.

Rarebear's avatar

My advice, after thinking about it, since it’s a recurring event, is make this an experiment. Try different lenses and see what you like the best

CWOTUS's avatar

My first impression is to disagree with @kritiper‘s advice (okay, I’ll admit it here, this one time: my first impression with nearly anything anyone ever says at any time is to disagree, but let’s move past that now) and to use a slower shutter speed, which will tend to blur the movement of the pollen release (if it happens with any kind of speed at all), but will on that account show the movement of the process, which might otherwise be lost in the background of the photo.

So my advice would be to experiment with different shutter speeds, too, which will give you varying views of the event. (However, I also doubt that a 1/500 shutter speed would work with a high-numbered f-stop such as f-8 or f-11. Those kinds of fast shutter speeds – at least in natural light – tend to couple better with the lower f-stops, and may not even be achievable with a telephoto lens.)

kritiper's avatar

@CWOTUS I suppose I should have mentioned using ASA800 or ASA1600 film. And with lower f-stops, focus becomes more critical, depth-of-field shallower/narrower.

CWOTUS's avatar

Exactly, @kritiper. Which is why I would suggest exactly that, to get clear focus on the area of interest, so that the rest of the tree / vegetation is out of focus. I would not expect the pollen release to be a highly visible thing, otherwise.

Of course, that assumes close focus on one specific part of the tree, not “the tree in general”. If your assumption was to capture the general “smokiness” of the whole tree, then your focusing and setup advice is sound.

kritiper's avatar

@CWOTUS Depending, of course, on just what the photographer tends to capture, and which way the wind blows the pollen. Understanding depth-of-field and how to make it work plays into this. Focus isn’t as critical if the f-stop is set for a deep depth and a lens of short focal length is used (the Nikkor 18–35mm 1:3.5–4.5D). And use a tripod with cable release.

kritiper's avatar

A good idea to help you understand your camera and what it can do for you, find a copy of “The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook” by Aaron Sussman.

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