A Goose on Ice and More on Macro (Two Photographs)

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A goose on ice sounds like a delicacy or at least a vodka.  But actually the geese we see in the early winter seem to enjoy the ice and handle it well. The lighting and pose is what caught my eye.

Macro: The Diffusion of Light

One of the more debated elements of close-up macro photography is how to diffuse the light, soften it and make it more natural. The larger the light source and the closer the subject to the light the softer the light is (again I will spare you the science).  A long explanation of diffusion can be found here: http://extreme-macro.co.uk/macro-diffusers. The easiest solution to this (in the field and indoors) is to place a a diffuser over your flash. You can make your own or buy one.I use the Lastolite EZybox (Manfrotto). The diffuser makes a huge difference in getting great light, once on the camera you just have to experiment with the power of the flash and the aperture. High-end flashes usually have a place where you attach an external battery pack. With a Godox pack, for instance, you can shoot 40 shots at high speed without stopping and the battery will still last for several days, in my case months, without the battery needing recharging, (the plastic holders that are sold to hold eight rechargeable batteries break too easily in my experience).

Macro: Extension Tubes and a Special Note on Winter Photography (Two Photographs)

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Macro: A 105mm macro lens will get you close, but it may not get you a safe working distance from your subject while getting you close. This is where extension tubes come in. They allow you to focus closer from farther away with any lens. Extension tubes go between the camera and the lens, they may have the connections that maintain the electronic links with the camera or they may not. Kenko makes a good set, but there are others. While you lose a bit of light, an extension tube  allows you to focus closer from farther away. I often use a 12mm extension tube that gets me optically close to the bee but not close enough to offend the bee.

The duck has nothing to do with macro or extension tubes and everything to do with handling difficult lighting situations. Ice and snow show up as bright blue in winter photography unless under-exposed by a couple of stops. The catch is how this affects your subject, it may not look great under exposed, and hence the choice, to do it in camera or in post production. In post, assuming flexible software you can selectively remove the blue. And in case you are wondering, the blue is a result of how the light meter reads the color white (similar things can happen with wedding gowns). In these photos I wanted the ice to show as ice and the steel grey look worked for me.

Macro: Not Urbex (Three Photographs)

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Urbex photography is photography of the insides of abandoned building and factories, and while these are abandoned buildings, they don’t meet the definition of urbex. Some things that are key to macro/close-up photography apply to all photography. Getting detail in photographs is one of those things. We get detail with a steady camera, appropriate shutter-speed (or artificial light) and sharpening in post-processing. While books have been written on at least two of theses subjects, there are some simple basics I will cover in upcoming posts.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly (Three Photographs)

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On a road trip out-of-town we ran across these old buildings that reminded me of an old movie set. I wanted that old western style of photo. Gives a bit of character to the abandoned. The buildings are on a hill you pass just as you enter the town of Renfrew, Ontario. Given the location one would think something could be made of this location and buildings. They do have some character.


Shadow Doodles (Two Photographs)

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In my posts I have spoken a lot about shapes and form, reflections and shadows. These photographs probably illustrate those concepts better than any thing I could say or write. I thinks its better expressed in the monochrome because the subject is much clearer. In my view it’s art, almost abstract, but a clear result of the right light at the right time of day.

Spreadwing Damselfly (Three Photographs)

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This is a rare type of damselfly in my area and when I see them they are seldom within range of my 105mm (with an extension tube). A lovely and cooperative insect that returned to the same spot after a brief flight. The wonders of macro photography limited what I could get in focus. One of the drawbacks of using extension tubes is that you cannot focus at infinity; you have a narrow range of focus, added to the narrow depth of field. Taken at F11 (full-frame conversion F16.5) but at the outside range of my focus, unfortunately I lost some focus on the tail.

Polarizing Filter (Two Photographs)

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Polarizing filters are very effective for darkening skies, removing haze and for better photography of subjects underwater through the water. For a very long time it was said one could not duplicate the polarizing effect in software. You can see in the two photographs the difference a polarizer makes (mostly in being able to see the bottom of the lake). The first photograph is with the polarizer, the second without. The subject is a snapping turtle prowling under water. The software I used for this is Macphuns’ Luminar, which is a full editor. Once it includes cataloguing it will be a rival to Lightroom (for Mac only). It has a lot of interesting filters. I’m not getting rid of my polarizer, but if I forget it at home or don’t have the opportunity to put one on, well I can fall back on Luminar.