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Posts tagged “Macro photography

Technically good

At this time of the year I am taking pictures of the flowers in my garden. And there are so many – too many – good shots – to mention or to post. Pick. Right! I suppose the bee that flew into my picture would be serendipitous. Fun! Yes, pick one. I can’t. With so much material to edit, I am helpless to pick a single image among the lot. It’s ok. No need to be alarmed. We can post as we may. It’s all in fun. There was a time when film cost money and experimentation was limited. Nowadays I am no longer constrained. It certainly allows you to explore and find new ways to do things.


Do you see…

…what I see. Ha ha. Christmas in July? August? Macro is a counter-intuitive term to me. It should be macro. So?! Whatever. I see detail. I cannot see it (fine detail) without that macro lens, and only after post-processing. Do you?

Here’s how it goes: The detail of the (hairy) pistil is only evident when you enlarge the image by about 10X. Oh! Ah! There’s a fine line between ooooh and ah!

Dammit! (an aside) All of this posting ain’t free. You run out of storage space and pay WordPress an annual fee. Damn! So, I’m outta space. Just now! Just this very post! And, I gotta pay – more! I almost stopped publishing. Oh, well, I guess the show will go on. Send money please….

At the end of the day, it’s all macro, through my macro lens. But, some things are enlarged further. I could do it all with normal lens – mostly, but not all. Technology?! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Colleen, the credit card bill went up again.


Summer

It’s summer flowers. Details. Close-ups. Color. I like water – shooting the droplets on the petals. You can do it after the rain, after watering, or just use the mist setting on the water nozzle. Parts: a detail of the flowers – stamens, etc., is always worth a moment’s effort. Same ole’? I try for something different. No matter. The color palette will always keep you interested. Alas, the days are getting shorter once again. My thoughts turn to fall.


Focus

Macro photography has the great benefit of delivering flower detail you might ordinarily not notice. Lessons! Or, macro may easily enough fail to deliver the essence of the subject. Hit or miss? Hibiscus, did you know the pistil has fine hairs? Did you ever care? The African daisy has central sex parts, the focus is critical to draw interest. Asian lily, focus on the stamens and the focus on the petals is lost. Is the picture lost? Nemesia, has a small protruding hairy tongue. I bet you did not know that and probably never cared till I pointed it out. A slight breeze makes it impossible to focus on this fine detail. You look at a cluster of flowers and just notice purple or yellow. I can tell you the my nursery folks were mystified that I sought to purchase their flowers with the little protruding tongue. Yup, right, crazy! …Too much tequila before he went to buy plants.


Summer flowers

I garden in containers. We get a maximum show of color for months. This year I was late because I had an injury. But we finally got things planted. I try for the usual flowers and then go for ones that are good photo subjects. Of course! Last summer I got a macro lens. Close ups! Now, we’re talking! Goose family? Pigeons? Dove? There are lots of chicken houses in DE. I was surprised to find pigeons? Huh?! I cannot find any reference to the place on the internet. Go figure. My cats are appreciative. Some red grass that I plant is fair game. Yes, my cats eat grass. No matter. I get good photo ops all summer long. I cruise the garden a couple times a day. Aside from straight on shots, I seek detail and images that are less common than catalog view. There is a flower that looks like the Rolling Stones tongue logo… I had it in my pictures last summer. So far, I have not found the flower again. But, there will be color! We will have a gorgeous garden and no one else will worry over the details. My trusty macro lens will find plenty to shoot.


Too much

Today. It’s lessons!… I have learned. We move forward by making mistakes and then correcting our errors. Right? I’m gonna hit a bunch of things I learned this summer. If it’s boring, look at the pictures and … see you tomorrow.

Water: I used the “mist” setting on the nozzle and got water droplets. A little is good. It even looks natural. And, too much? … looks contrived. No! No Photoshop, too much work.

Focus: A good macro lens is unforgiving. There is no depth of field to speak of. Focus is critical. Within a single flower, focus can change the whole feeling. Example: yellow flower. Failure. All summer I have tried to find the focal interest. No luck. it’s just a blurred mess. Red – petunia – flower, focus shallow (petals) or (deeper) stamen? Purple flower, it’s near impossible to get all of its parts in focus. Yes, I manually focus. No, I did not quite get it right.

Timing: See, the praying mantis. Two black dots for eyes? Blink. One shot open and one shot not? Really? Macro – I could not get the whole of the bug in focus. I settled for the head and “eyes.”

TMI? It’s why I love photography. Not like, love. Well, I love my wife – first and foremost. (Ha! I live another day.) There are challenges. I am not perfect. I try different things. And, very much unlike in a medical practice, no one dies! Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect.


It’s late

But, it’s never too late to learn a new trick. I discovered beefsteak tomatoes. Ha ha! Everyone else knows them. I am late to the party as usual. Colleen bought one. I just about let it go bad on the counter. Then, we got mozzarella. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Instant revelation! I was stunned. I don’t think I ever ate a beefsteak tomato before? Or if I did, it was not a true tomato?

An aside? I shoot macro images. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot see the details the lens captures until I start editing. The details! Water droplets? Subtle and not noticeable until I enlarge the image. Yes, I feel like some images were shot with my eyes closed.

Focus? Dead on accurate – the cat (Peas) – or, it’s not a shot. You aspire to a different standard.

And that beefsteak? A simple recipe. Good lighting. Luscious color. Mmmmm….


Learning curve

Hey! Look how close I got to the dragonflies. They were all over my yard. They land on a point and rest. They move away when you approach but tend to circle around and alight on the same spot. They get used to you, hence, I was able to get in close. I presume the western wildfires may be responsible for the spectacular clouds blowing in from my west. And, what else is there to add to the fact that my spiffy macro lens catches great flower details. Yes, enlarging the images in Lightroom lets me appreciate things I might never otherwise notice. (Double click the image, it will enlarge somewhat.) I’ve been at photography a long time. … and still learning.


Vertical

When I started in film, “they” always admonished me to hold the camera vertically – get a vertical shot – about 10% of the time. Or, more. Nowadays, I shoot 99% with the horizontal computer screen in mind. My shots are mostly horizontal. I can crop vertically, easily enough. Or, more than ever I hold my camera tilted off horizontal to get a more “street” or “edgy” look. Ha! The cameras I have all have a horizontal ‘indicator’ to hold you perfectly aligned which is anything but what I want to be. Come as you are! My images turn out vertically sometimes because I am holding the camera so far off horizontal. To which I might ask, if you have a round flower, does it matter – horizontal or vertical? To which, I might add, I never met a rule I didn’t try to break…


Macro – detail

It’s not microscopic photography. Once upon a time, I did plenty of medical photography through an operating microscope. Macro photography is focusing in on the small details the eye will usually not see unaided. The macro lens brings that detail into focus. In this manner one can see the fine hairs on the stamens or almost make out the individual grains of pollen. It’s fascinating. It’s eye-opening. I can demonstrate detail that I never saw in the past without the aid of a macro lens. It elevates your perception and appreciation above the ordinary flower photo. I don’t think I could get these results with an iPhone. (Go ahead. Zoom in on the images to see the extraordinary detail.)


Déjà vu … again

As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.

Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.


Game changer

I need(ed) a kick in the pants. Boredom? Stagnation? Progression? Rut? I started taking flower pictures in earnest last summer. Sure, I have tons of flower pictures from the past. Yawn! But, last summer I started paying attention to the little details. I discovered I had been missing a lot. This spring I convinced myself to get a macro lens. I had a macro lens. It was an old clunky mechanical macro lens, now decades old. There were a myriad of reasons to justify the purchase of a new toy. I am acquisitive and have been all my life. Why not indulge? I did. I got a spiffy full frame mirrorless camera body to go with it. Don’t ask. Boys and toys. It has been a game changer. I am, for the moment, shooting exclusively, extensively, with the new camera and macro lens. Better images? Sure. You can also do the job with about any other equipment. But, like cars, some are better suited to the task. Ease of use and consistent results help. It is similar to the improvement of my dive photos after I started using a dedicated underwater housing and a flash strobe. Unless you are a gearhead, you will not likely understand. Maybe you will nod indulgently like Colleen. Part of what I love is that she (Colleen) understands too well my exuberant enthusiasm. Her spinning wheels are much larger (size) examples how much fun it is to have different tools for the same task. Why use different spinning wheels? Each (wheel) brings something different and, so, brings joy to the task at hand. I like different cameras (not too many) for what they can do to get the image I have visualized. I firmly believe that iPhone is not the best tool for most situations.


Tiny details

Ho hum. Another flower picture? Yawn, boring. Till… I noticed the tiny details. Last summer I shot the flowers in my garden with a regular camera zoom lens. The details I captured were eye-opening. This year I updated my gear and got an (up-to-date) macro lens. I got the right tool for the job. I can appreciate the improvement in my images. I was used to a wide-angle view of the garden. Now, I see and capture tiny details. Learning a new trick has been fun and introduced interest once again. I am challenged to illustrate things we would not ordinarily notice in the common flowers in our garden.


Depth

As if you might care – macro photography has a very limited depth of field. This is good or bad. I have had to adjust. The critical focus makes it imperative to be certain of the point of interest. Lack of focus is unforgiving. Either you got the shot or not. Ok! Enough! You want to see? The African daisy is in focus at the back and not the front. It’s subtle but makes all the difference between “ok” and “wow!” If you didn’t notice or don’t care, good for you!


New toys

For the longest time I resisted getting a real macro camera lens. These are the first sample images from a spiffy macro lens I acquired toward the end of April. The camera has a very shallow depth of field. Focus on the subject is critical. The right tool for the right job – I had resisted for so long. A few brief moments later, I am convinced. The last time I was enlightened like this, was, when I upgraded my diving equipment. It’s still too early. But, I suspect my images will change for the better. No longer am I tied to the concept: when you don’t have a hammer, a screw driver will do. It’s nice to eat with a knife and fork.