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Help with science fair project?

Postby neatish » Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:59 pm

So I got the idea of working with macro photography for my science fair project and it's proving to be a bit more difficult than I previously thought. I wanted to test which method of taking pictures will get the best up-close shot, but it seems a little bland to me. I have several different ways of taking macro (up-close) photos listed that I can try and prove. but I wanted a little more depth with the project as a whole. As in, what can I add to it to give it that extra thing that teachers and administrators will pay attention to? I also need help trying to figure out a data table to organize the information I get from the experiment. Altogether, the data for the experiment is due on December 2nd, but the experiment will only take a small amount of time, so it's no worries.

Here is what I have so far in the way of my project (plus a research essay, but I'm not posting that here):

Title: Up Close and Personal (/not final?)
Problem/Question: Which method will work best for capturing a picture of an object up close?
Hypothesis: I predict that the macro setting will work best for capturing an up close photo.
- point and shoot digital camera
- tabletop tripod (optional)
- small items to photograph
- computer
- editing software

1. Learn how to use the program/auto, macro, and zoom features on your digital camera.
2. Find a suitable object to photograph, such as a small flower, buttons, or grains of sand. Small, detailed objects that do not move should be best.
3. Set your camera to program/auto mode and photograph your object from a distance of around three feet. You will zoom in on this photo later.
4. Using program/auto mode to take an up-close of your object.
5. Change setting to macro and take an up-close of your object.
6. Download images to computer and open them in a photo editing software.
7. Use the zoom tool on the first image so it resembles the other photos in size and composition.
8. Crop the photo using the crop tool and make sure the dimensions are the same as the others.
9. Compare all three photos and record. Are the pixels visible? Are the objects in focus? Is the color realistic?
10. Open the photo editing software using the same pictures.
11. Zoom in on one photo until the image quality begins to deteriorate.
12. Record point at which image begins deteriorating.
13. Repeat for two other photos.
14. Which capture mode preserves the most visual information on the subject?

Please mention if there is anything I need to clarify or change with any of the information given above! I'm grateful ahead of time for any responses. :)
Also, the information I'm hoping to include on my data table is the object(s?), capture method, quality, point of deterioration, and or the description.

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Re: Help with science fair project?

Postby boydrew » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:17 pm


I think that your experiment is fine so far and straightforward. Your hypothesis that the macro setting photo would be the best seems to be reasonable as it would have more pixels to cover a smaller area. Maybe you could add more to your experiment by trying different distances for each camera mode to see if you can find the pixel:distance ratio for each mode. I'll try to help you with other questions if I can.

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Re: Help with science fair project?

Postby tdaly » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:19 am

Hi neatish,

Boydrew gave you some good advice. Here are a few additional things to consider. First, scientific procedures need to be exact so that your work can be replicated. So, saying "three feet" is better than saying "about three feet". If someone were to replicate your work, but their camera was not at the exact same distance as yours, they might get a slightly different result. Second, if you take all of your pictures at the same distance and you do not change the zoom in between photos--you only change macro vs. auto--then all of your pictures should be the same size and have the came composition. That will be important because if you were to zoom in on one photo--even in your photo editing software--but not on another (and then try to compare the results), you would be comparing apples and oranges. Third, be very clear about what you are measuring. It sounds like you are measuring how % zoom you have to go to until the image quality has degraded. Is that correct? You will want to come up with some specific criteria you use to evaluate whether or not an image is in focus. For example, you might focus on the sharpness of two or three specific edges of the object. Remember that you want someone to be able to replicate your project using your procedure. Unless you specify how you are determining whether the image is in focus, someone else might use a different strategy than you will use to determine whether the image is in focus.
All the best,

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