Archive for fly

Experiences with macro 7 – The End?

Posted in photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by overread

Well its not the end of the season, but it is the end of my time at home, which means returning to uni and also losing my haunts round this area. That means heading into the unknown and not knowing where to find interesting bugs – could make for tricky macro times ahead – so here is one last trip out with the macro.
I have also been experimenting with a demo version of ReDynamizer (ergo the notes on the used shots) which I find to be a powerful, yet requiring some care to use program. I certainly does not like working on weak (noisy) photos and defiantly needs a strong noise filter running over after, but its effect can be very good;

To view exif data review properties of the thumbnails – exif not attached to larger versions

Shot taken with
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
Speedlite 580M2+Lumiquest softbox

f14, ISO 200, 1/200sec

Shots taken with
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
Sigma 1.4 teleconverter
Speedlite 580M2+Lumiquest softbox

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec
This bee (and in the last shot his assistant) was incredibly slow. I think he was having a small sleep on the flower when I found him and he left me enough time to get out the camera and also take a few good shots before he worked up enough energy for flight. He spent most of the time rapidly eating his fill from the flower – and this second shot is currently one of the best I have taken – especially with the little fly that I did not notice at the time.

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec
I really love the jewel like back to butterflies and moths – I think this one is a moth – least he looks mothy to me. Regardless a fine little insect!

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec
Another shot experimented with and whilst I love the closeup of the eyes I am not happy with this shot – the colours and such lack something to my eye and I keep seeing that little bit of wing I clipped off. A good focus and primary subject, but something is lacking here for me.

f14, ISO 200, 1/160sec
I do like these sorts of shots, but I take so very few of them – mostly as when I see a butterfly I always try to go for a repeat of a close headshot – and so lose out on thinking about just hanging back and getting a full body shot.

Shot taken with:
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
Sigma 1.4* teleconverter
Sigma 2* teleconverter
Speedlite 580M2 and lumiquest softbox

f14, ISO 400, 1/160sec
Yes you read right, both teleconverters on this shot. Just a bit of fun at the end of the day – I can’t remember if I got as close as was fully possible with the combo, but I did get close. Focusing was very tricky to get right with both teleconverters attached.

And that is the end of that – off to uni now, though I think I can now handle a macro lens and get some good results – still loads of little areas to improve upon – checking the whole frame; backing off at times for creativity; and learning to control the flash in something other than its full auto mode.


Experiences with macro 3 – the LumiQuest

Posted in photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2008 by overread

Well another exciting day for me – at last after much waiting my Lumiquest Softbox has arrived – that means an end to using toilet paper as a diffuser! Despite some people saying that the softbox is overly large I don’t find it to be that much of a hindrance, though not something I would use for a family trip out since it just that little bit fiddly to attach. I have used elastic bands (thank you Royal Mail for the free ones with my post) to hold the box onto the flash head – I have done this so that the Velcro strips don’t have to be added to the flash head as there are some other diffusers that I am considering getting for different situations which would/might not attach if the strips are stuck onto the flash. This makes attaching the head a little slower and fiddly, but once on its secure with a few bands round it.

All shots taken with:
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
speedlite 580M2+Limiquest softbox

To view exif data review properties of the thumbnails – exif not always attached to larger versions

f8, ISO 100, 1/40sec

f8, ISO 100, 1/40sec

f8, ISO 100, 1/40sec

Ok so not the best angles and depth of field is still very much lacking in these shots, but the colours and soft light are what I value them for.

f6.3, ISO 400, 1/50sec
A shot I am very proud of – the background, depth of field and angle on the insect have all come together to make a shot that works. Now all I have to do is learn from this and repeat it more often

f8, ISO 400, 1/50sec
Clearly learning is not going to happen that quick with me πŸ˜‰

f8, ISO 400, 1/50sec

f8, ISO 400, 1/50sec
A rare moment of me being creative with a shot – taken at full magnification he would not fit into the single frame, so instead of moving out and reducing my magnification, I decided to be more creative in how I framed the shot. I like what I came out with in this and the composition is one that I do find pleasing.

Overall I found the lumiquest to be a fantastic addition to my kit, its more refined at softening the light than the toilet paper was and its also simple to use – a very worthwhile addition to a flash setup.

Experiences with macro 2

Posted in photography with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2008 by overread

Well out I go again, this time out I was a more determined to get my depth of field up – so I left the teleconverter in the bag and shot with the lens without any support at all. It should be noted that this is also meaning that I am now operating at 1:1 macro, whilst with the 2* I was operating at 2:1 macro. I really like the boost in magnification, but the loss of my depth was costing me shots.

All shots taken with:
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
speedlite 580M2+toiletpaper diffuser

To view exif data review properties of the thumbnails – exif not always attached to larger versions

f13, ISO 200, 1/25sec

f13, ISO 200, 1/20sec

Well first off some familiar ground with the fallen apples again, I don’t tend to hang around long here mostly as its full of wasps and the ground is often wet from the taps used to clean and refill the water dispensers for the birds we keep. Still a good place to guarantee some insects, if not easy shooting angles. Most of the time they have their heads down inside the apple eating.

But now for something much more exciting than flies – DRAGONS – or rather in this case damselflies – real dragonflies can’t reverse their wings to follow the line of thier bodies – they have to remain outstretched.

f8, ISO 400, 1/2000sec
background has blurred fantastically well in this shot – mostly due to the fact that it is so far off. This shot was tricky not only because they (there were two at the time) were flying around erratically and landing on the same stem, but also because that stem was out in the pond water – so I had to lean out over the water to get this close-up shot – risky with my camera – I was determined not to slip and drop it!

f5.6, ISO 200, 1/160sec
Getting a full side body shot in focus is hard with these insects since their bodies are so long – one can either move to catch the damsel on the side, or close down the aperture and go for an increased depth of field.

f9, ISO 200, 1/60sec

f9, ISO 200, 1/200sec
Sadly 1/200sec is the fastest sync speed for my camera and flash, though there are some increased speed settings I am not familiar enough to use them yet. That and the erratic flight nature of these bugs makes a shot like this very tricky to get.

f8, ISO 400, 1/200sec
Taken against the greeny water of the pond, not the best shot, but one I really like for what the damsel is doing. Shot at several different ranges, this was the closest I got before he finished/flew off.

Overall I think I learnt quite a bit from this trip. Firstly I learnt that I did not need to have my 2* teleconverter to get the macro shots I was after and that in fact this could be hindering me in getting my desired shots. Also it showed me where my interest in such a shot really was – not the background blur – but with the depth of detail with the subject itself – it sounds simple to type, but its something that before I was not considering as I sought after background blur effects.

Experiences with macro 1

Posted in photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by overread

Well back from the holidays and with the new kit I was eager, now that time was my own, to start experimenting with the macro gear and seeing what I could get with it. Added to my excitement was the arrival – 3 days ago – of my birthday and amungst the various items there was a Canon battery grip and remote cable release for my camera. Not only that, but also a lowepro Mini Trekker bag which holds (just) all my current kit as well as the tripod. The battery grip is not fully attached to my camera and is not likely to come of any time soon.
Anyway back to the photos:

All taken with:
Canon 400D
Sigma 150mm macro
Sigma 2* teleconverter
Speedlite 580M2+toiletpaper diffuser

Sadly the story starts off with a bit of a mess – my flash batteries died on me, but I did not notice till too late and a small host of shots were lost simply due to underexposure without the flash for support – a great shame. Then I found out why its important to use “white” toilet paper only

f16, ISO 200, 1/100sec
And this is after saving the shot form a horrible red tinge as a result of coloured diffusion paper – lesson leant and paper change so at last some shooting can take place! The rest of the shots I took round some fallen apples which proved to be a great source of attraction for bugs

f13, ISO 400, 1/40sec

f13, ISO 400, 1/40sec

f13, ISO 400, 1/40sec

f13, ISO 400, 1/40sec

Well there is a similar pattern in these shots – the bokeh is great, really blurred and soft, but the depth of field is really lacking. In a few the angle of shot makes up for the limited depth to the infocus areas, but its not enough really. A shame, but this is part of a feeling that is getting stronger – that the 2* teleconverter is just too tricky to use handheld without focus stacking or longer exposures and retaining its depth of field with me. That and its a swine to focus with, the focus is razor thin with this setup and I was only able to shoot as I did because I was resting on the ground and so could use a slower shutter speed without fear of shake.

First shots with Sigma 150mm macro

Posted in photography with tags , , , , , , on July 27, 2008 by overread

Well I now own a brand new Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens – and a fantastic lens this is. A league away from my sigma 70-300mm macro, this new lens is capable of 1:1 macro as well as up to 2:1 (twice life size) when combined with a 2* teleconverter. Its well built, light enough to handhold and has a few nice features that even Canon L lenses lack – notably:

a) The lens hood is thicker and more durable than the canon L plastic hoods.

b) the tripod collar allows me to remove and attach the lens to it without having to remove the camera first – this is great when working on the move and wanting to go from tripod to handheld – granted there are quick release plates out there, but you still have to hold the collar on the lens – which can be a distraction.

All in all I was very please to get this lens and – needless to say – I did a lot of macro shooting whilst on holiday; though conditions were less than perfect with wind being a constant bother (and me being too lazy to get up in time for early morning insects in their slow period).
So here is what I got on holiday – I was also in a bit of an f2.8 addiction, hence I messed up the depth of field in quite a few (note becomes 5.6 with 2*TC).

All shots taken with:
Cannon ESO 400D
Sigma 150mm f2.8 Macro lens (teleconverter used on some – noted photos)
Speedlite 580M2 + diffuser (its still the toilet paper idea!)
hand held

For exif data save and review properties of the thumbnail version only – exif not attached to larger versions of shots.

First shots – on the windowsill

f5.6, ISO 400, 1/160sec + 2*TC

f16, ISO 400, 1/200sec + 2*TC
first of a series of wasp shots – as you can see with the 2*teleconverter even f16 has a small depth of field to it – part of the trade off for a greater level of magnification.

f16, ISO 400, 1/200sec + 2*TC

f16, ISO 400, 1/200sec + 2*TC

f16, ISO 400, 1/200sec + 2*TC
The side of the windowsill is starting to appear now – obscuring some of the wasp as he has a clean.

f16, ISO 400, 1/200sec + 2*TC

In the Garden

f2.8, ISO 100, 1/160sec
Link to 100% crop
I still really like this shot – one of my better bits of composition, it’s just a real shame that I stuck to that wide open aperture and lost the depth of field – even without the teleconverter the line is very fine.

This next series of shots I took on the side of a tree due to the wind making focusing on insects on leaves extremely difficult – the tree eliminated on problem, and also acted as good support to lean on when shooting.


f13, ISO 100, 1/1600sec + 2*TC
Link to 100% crop

f13, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC
Link to 100% crop
I am very proud of this shot – aside from the cutting off of a whole section of the bug, the angle and depth of field have worked really well. To get the rest of the bug I would have to had moved the focus back to around 1:2 on the lens *which with the 2*TC would mean 1:1 magnification.*

f13, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC
Moved the focus back in this shot – though clearly not enough to get the full insect

f13, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC
First of a series of experiments in angles with a fly on the tree

f16, ISO 400, 80sec + 2*TC
Going for a greater depth of field – though if I had a perfect overhead shot I should not (in theory) need such a great depth.

f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC
Link to 100% crop
I rather liked this shot – interesting angle, even though the depth of field is – again – not perfect.

f13, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC

f13, ISO 200, 1/100sec + 2*TC
Link to 100% crop
I rather like the warm colours and sharpness to the face that I captured in these two shots.

Husky Eye shots

Don’t ask me the why, but one objective I have is to get a close up macro shot of our huskies eye – of course this proves to be very much harder than it sounds as the only time that her head is not moving its sleeping – and then the eye is somewhat hidden πŸ˜‰ – so far my two best examples:

f2.8, ISO 100, 1.50sec
See what I mean about sleepy shut eyes!

f5.6, ISO 200, 1/160sec + 2*TC
Well a little better, but not the sharpness I am after.

Lessons Leant

1) Macro photography is not easy to focus on, I picked up loads of shots where the focus was just off the eyes, or totally missing the insect. Wind is a major problem with this regard.

2) The 2*TC is not the perfect addition – whilst I really like being able to get 2:1 macro, I am losing the depth of field many times – so I think changing to the naked lens for a while might be in order to get that depth of field back; whilst improving composition for other times when using the 2*TC

3) Keep an eye on settings and keep the aperture closed down as much as possible for the greatest depth of field.

4) No matter how hard macro insect photography is getting a huskies eye in macro is at least twice (if not more) as hard!