When it comes to still photography I’m a ‘zoom guy’, preferring to shoot with zoom lenses rather than primes. While I use my three Nikon 1 prime lenses extensively for my client video work I almost never use them for still photography. For whatever reason I got the notion in my head to try photographing flowers with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 prime.
Note: Click on images to enlarge.
I captured the images in this article on a couple of mornings when I was out for my regular 5km walk. I began by shooting some very typical images of groups of flowers.
By adjusting my shooting angle and distance I was able to get a good idea on how depth-of-field would be affected.
When doing flower photography I typically use the 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 for general images, and the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 with extension tubes for close-up photos. When shot wide open at f/1.2 the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 provides some additional composition options.
For example, you can see in the image above how focusing on a corner flower quickly renders the balance of the blossoms out of focus.
Rather than have to choose compositions where the background was at a good distance from the main subject, using the 32mm wide open provided good image separation even when the background was pretty tight in to the main subject.
I captured all of the images in this article using single point auto-focus, and with an aperture of f/1.2 for most of them.
Being able to place the single auto-focus point virtually anywhere on the rear screen of the J5 was very helpful to compose images quickly, and also control depth-of-field by choosing very specific AF spots in the photograph.
I did capture a few images at f/2.8 so I could get some practical assessment on the differences in depth-of-field.
I was intrigued with the idea of using an extension tube with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2. I used a 10mm Vello Deluxe extension tube and found that the set-up provided a very interesting capability.
Being able to compose images with quite shallow depth-of-field created more serene and gentle looking photographs.
Some subjects took on an almost surreal appearance.
Shooting straight down into the heart of some flowers accentuated the shallow depth-of-field.
I quite liked the soft, almost floating look that some flowers would take on when shot from directly above.
Shallow depth-of-field could also be enhanced by changing the shooting angle. For example, shifting from a profile view to one that looked down the length of a subject element as seen in the image below.
The 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 will definitely be in my camera bag the next time I plan to do some flower photography. It provides some additional composition options due to its ability to render shallow depth-of-field and is a very interesting lens to use with a 10mm extension tube.
All photographs were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 as per the EXIF data. Images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6, and the Nik Collection.
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