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Another Portrait

Another PortraitTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

This is one of the hopper family of true bugs (Hemiptera). They are very small and given their preferred natural settings, can be seen against dramatic backgrounds. Given the bug’s small size the need for magnification leads to a very narrow depth of field and little artistic leeway. This is one of those animals that is indifferent to your presence and will sit and stare, turn its back or wander quickly away. I almost always try to get the insects face on and that make it harder to precisely identify the creature.

Blue (and a word about flash)

BlueTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Amazing what a bit of flash will do. My use of flash is not as studied as some; my subjects are usually impatient insects. However, given time with a subject the ability to balance flash with ambient light is significantly easier. My methodology of flash on manual at 1/8th power, camera on 1/250th speed (the highest flash synch speed on my camera) and fstops around f10-14 usually work, the variable I play with is that range of fstops. This is great for macro on my camera the best starting point may differ for you. The amount of diffusion I use is also a factor and probably equivalent to minus two fstops in light (Lastolite Ezybox softbox 8inches by 8inches and double baffled). Without diffusion the flash power would be much less than 1/8th. In this photograph I fiddled a bit to get just a kiss of light on the inside of the flower that I could enhance in post-processing.

Butterfly and Some Comments on Detail (Two Photographs)

Butterfly and a big difference in detail-1To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

These are two photographs of the same butterfly, one taken at f7.1 1/250th of a second and 100 ISO and the other at F16 1/200th of a second and 400 ISO, both with flash. The flash has compensated for a significant amount of the jump in aperture, Besides the difference in backgrounds, we can note that in the lower fstop and lower ISO we get some fringing on the leaves. For those afraid of noise at high ISOs beware that there may be other issues that arise from staying at the native ISO. I tried to remove the fringe but efforts at fixing chromatic aberration led to purple fringing. This tells me that it is more likely related to the narrow depth of field and is a reflection of the background. This is a minor issue but if I wanted to print the photo for my wall, I would have to do more serious editing.

Butterfly and a big difference in detail-2

Tonality and Light

 Tonality and LightTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

The light hit this flower just right. In post processing I first wanted to further mute the background where the light had fallen off and ensure no distractions. I then wanted to bring out many of the details and used a Nik filter to do that. I find with Lightroom and other programs that auto settings tend to compensate for problems like dark photos, even when this is not the case. Inevitably in shooting animals at a distance, environmental issues like mist or moisture will wash out a photograph. In fact in many of my photographs I tone down the highlights for just this reason.

Heron Reflections (two photographs and a few comments on format and problem photos)

Heron and reflections-1 To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Herons standing in water often mean wonderful reflections. This was the case here, but with a long lens (e.g. 300mm) you can only back up so far to get the larger picture; the solution is to tilt the camera into portrait format. The web does not favor portrait format, it means a smaller picture than a horizontal landscape format. In the second portrait photo, the bird is certainly more interesting in his Boris Karloff pose but unfortunately this pose lasted for seconds and I was unable to adjust to get a better shot (it’s a bit soft and the light hit the highlights of the bird in unfortunate ways). I brought down the highlights and shadows to fix this, but parts of the head were without any detail. It is the same bird.

Heron and reflections-2

Bokeh and Macro

Bokeh and MacroTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

It is no secret that macro photographers crop their photographs significantly. They take advantage of the megapixels in their cameras to get the detail in the smaller frame. I know there is a school against anything but formatting for print and doing only minor creative cropping. For some, cropping for pseudo magnification is simply wrong. I don’t agree. I will agree that there are challenges with my more liberal approach. One of which is that when one has nice bokeh (the out of focus circles in the background) it can overwhelm the subject due to the increase in size of the bokeh. That said it was neither raining nor snowing and large balls of light are an artifact of the combination of lens and fstop and add a poetic touch to the photograph J

A Large Dandelion?

Large Dandelion?To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

The size of the plant is made apparent because of its surroundings. When size and environment are not clear in a photograph your subject needs to be very strong. Another point about this photograph is that in the translation to a digital file the rich golden color was lost. You get the most dynamic range in Nikon cameras by using the neutral color control setting but then you also lose some contrast and color vibrancy. This deficit has to be made up for in post-processing. Gentle use of the white balance controls will give you back the vibrancy and allow for more contrast. With the increasing numbers of megapixels in cameras, a great final touch is to ensure you have pulled out the level of detail you want with an external plug-in (Topaz, NIK, On One, Macphun etc.).

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