Sunday, April 14, 2013

Point and Shoot Macro Photography Tips

My new to me but used 105 mm 2.8 lens for my SLR camera will be arriving tomorrow. Technically it's sitting in the local post office but they didn't deliver my pick up slip until later in the day so I don't get to pick it up until Monday now. 

In the mean time as I anxiously await my new lens, I decided to look for bugs in our yard with my point and shoot set to macro this morning.  I didn't find any bugs so I opted for an easier choice and I "stalked" the flowers in our yard instead. 

I'm discovering that the little point and shoot has a really great macro setting that shows good detail but the only draw back is that the depth of field is so deep that the background tends to look a little busy. I found a way to remedy that in these two photos though. The daffodil was a super easy fix. I just cropped way in and that eliminated the busy background.The ornamental plum however required a little more work and Photoshop technique.

Recently I discovered a technique to manipulate a point and shoot photo's background to look like it was taken on an SLR camera with a shallow depth of field.

Here is a description/tutorial of this technique and how I created the shot of the ornamental plum blossoms.

Since I shot this on my point and shoot camera the original shot looked like this:

Using a Photoshop program (I use Photoshop Elements 11) I first made a duplicate layer and did a little cloning on the petals to clean up some of the harsh shadows since I shot this in direct sunlight. After I was satisfied with that I did a select all and copy. Then I hit control D to get rid of the selected area (since I had hit copy it's in the program's cue and still ready to paste). Then, working on the new duplicate layer that I created I go into Filter and then Gaussian blur. You can adjust the amount of the effect while in Gaussian blur to the degree you like and you can also adjust the opacity slider  for this after you apply the effect since it is on a layer. Next I click on edit and paste. This will make the non-Gaussian blur layer the top layer. I prefer to work with the Gaussian layer on top and then use the eraser tool to bring back the parts that I don't want to be blurred. To do this you will need to click on to the non-Gaussian blur layer and drag it down on top of the Gaussian blur layer. Now you will see that the two layers have changed position. Click back onto your top layer which should be the Gaussian blur layer now. Next use the opacity slider to pull the percentage down far enough so that you can see the image underneath it well enough to work with an eraser tool. The next and tedious part is to erase the parts that you do not want the Gaussian blur effect on. In this instance it's the flower. Once you have all the parts erased that you want to show through just adjust the opacity slider again to the degree you want for the background. For this photo I was able to eliminate our chimney and the trees in the back ground which makes the flower pop a little more now. And here is the result:

I hope this little tutorial was helpful. Stay tuned and as I learn more I'll share what I learn. Thanks for stopping by to read my blog. Happy shooting.


  1. I don't have the budget for a DSLR so I've been doing this for a year with some of my P&S images. You have to watch out for halos and I highly suggest releasing the eraser frequently, otherwise you have to start over if you make a mistake and erase a part you didn't want to.

  2. That is a good point Jenelle. I use the eraser like a paint brush tool when using this technique by releasing it as you said rather than one continuous stroke. It helps to enlarge the photo on the screen so you can see in great detail what you are doing. I was working at 100% or more when I worked on this photo. Decreasing the eraser size also give you more control. It is important to take your time when using this technique to do it accurately. It also helps to not go too extreme with the Gaussian blur as this can help with the blending as well. I like to use a soft eraser "brush" for blending to rather than a hard one.