More Macro Tips from Peter K. Burian

I have known Peter Burian for a long time and nobody—and I mean nobody—knows the technical aspects of photography as well as Peter. He is co-author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide and is a freelance photographer/writer based in Toronto, Canada. Burian is a regular contributor to PHOTO LIFE, AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY, MARKETNEWS, HERE’S HOW and PhotoNews. Peter is an instructor at To see more of his wonderful photography, I invite you to visit his website

In high magnification macro photography the ideal means of focusing is to move the lens toward, and away from, the subject. Shifting an entire tripod a few millimeters can be very frustrating. For those who own an Arca-style quick release system — with a locking clamp holding a flat (rectangular) plate attached to the camera — there is a simple alternative. Order an extra long (6+ inch) camera plate from Really Right Stuff or Kirk Enterprises. Loosen the clamp slightly to allow the plate to shift within the jaws. Move the camera back and forth until you find just the right spot for correct focus. Then lock the clamp for security.

* Traveling by air with a tripod can be a hassle. If you check it as luggage, it may be damaged in transit. A padded carrying case can be useful but becomes another item to drag around the terminal, parking lot, etc. The obvious alternative is to pack the tripod in your suitcase, wrapped in clothing as protection from bumps. Unfortunately, few types of luggage will accommodate a full size tripod, so photographers often travel with a model that’s not large/rigid to firmly support telephoto lenses. The solution came to me at a junior hockey game: buy a large duffel bag used by players for carrying their gear. The bag (from a sports supply store) had plenty of capacity for everything I needed for a ten day trip to Brazil and easily swallows a tripod which is just over three feet long; if necessary, remove the head to shorten the assembly.

* Few photographers seem to venture out in the rain, fearing that their cameras and lenses will be damaged by water. This is a prudent concern but rain can add an appealing atmosphere to land and cityscapes. Several manufacturers offer excellent rain hoods and flexible plastic housings, but for occasional rainy day photography, I found a very inexpensive alternative: a large, clear ZipLok bag. Slip it over the equipment and cut a hole for the front of the lens by screwing a filter into place. Remove the circular piece and attach a lens hood to hold the material and to shield the front element from rain drops. You can probably see through the plastic without difficulty but if desired, a hole can be cut for the viewfinder. Attach the rubber eye cup to hold the plastic in place and cut away the desired section with a small knife. Now there’s no longer an excuse to avoid shooting in the rain, important especially during an expensive trip when the weather simply will not cooperate.


Author: Joe Farace

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