Posts tagged “Close-up Photography

Jumping Spider (Three Photographs)

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They say you’re never very far from a spider. That does not mean they are easy to find or conveniently located. This one’s on the wall behind our bed. My wife called me to grab my gear and get a shot, the best of the best are here. For the record I captured him alive and released him on our balcony. Hopefully he’ll be back.

Excitement on the Trail

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All kinds of wonderful things happen in the forest, most unpredictable. But when a mating pair of dragonflies landed on my wife’s hat when she was taking a photo it was hard not to laugh!


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Overcast skies make for great soft light. But just like soft light in studio you lose a bit of brightness and detail. In addition, nature photographers have to deal with trees and shrubs blocking light. Challenging but fun.

Colourful But Back-lit (Two Photographs)

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There are many ways to be creative in photography. As cameras advance in technological sophistication we get new possibilities. One of which is the ability to ignore ISO and pull more out of shadows with little noticeable grain. It worked in these shots of a sweat bee.

Butterflies (Two Photographs)n

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When I am shooting in nature I try to get some context, contrast, or framing. Not always possible but I find focusing on just the subject is bit too clinical and not necessarily creative photography. An added bonus is it makes shooting some subjects just a touch more challenging.

Hummingbird Moth (Two Photographs)

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The second photograph could be my ode to Halloween. Hummingbird moths look better just a bit further away. Their flight pattern is more like helicopter than a plane which makes some shots a little easier.

Monarch in the Light (Two Photographs)

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If you read my last couple of posts on colour and shadows you will notice in these photos taken a few seconds apart, the change in colour due to shadow and positioning. It’s not a question of which is right or closer to reality, but that colour and shadow are variables. As a result there are choices to be made when taking the photos and some latitude when it comes to processing. In this sense (and others) photographers interpret reality.

Painted Lady Butterfly (Two Photographs)

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By far the most compliant insect I have seen. They pose! It takes a bit more movement to frighten them off, and they usually have great eyes. Whenever I find one there are dozens and its great fun for photography.

Contrast (Two Photographs)

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In photographing insects its always great to have colour contrast. Many insects blend in with camouflage so colour contrast is nice to have rather than a must have. Besides beautiful flowers add to any subject.

Awkward Angles (Two Photographs)

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Since I started writing about photography, I have made a point of suggesting that photos taken from different angles or perspectives make it more likely you get a unique photo. And it is true that some angles result in awkward looking shots but sometimes those angles may be all you have to work with. In my case that means taking more shots however I can when the subject is interesting, in the hope of a successful shot.

Studio Setups (Two Photographs)

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Studio work is something I’d recommend trying. I worked in pro studios as a teen and it taught me the basics. Since then I occasionally take the opportunity to try setups at home. I continue to learn new techniques, about lighting, backgrounds, exposure etc. For backgrounds here I used scarves; the camera was fitted with a 50mm lens and the light was generated by flash.

Wonder (Two Photographs)

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In the past I was wary of any insects and scared of spiders. As I spent more time on nature photography, I learned a lot more about insects and spiders, bought some books did some studying and I was amazed. The feeling quickly translated into my photography. The butterfly you see here, I believe is a common white admiral, but its colouring, its eyes its pose, its patient work, are a wonder of nature.

Tree Frog (Two Photographs)

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Cute little frog but unfortunately small and somewhat skittish. I say unfortunately as everything around it in the bush was bigger. It’s great when you can show scale and relative size of something in a photo, but it is not always possible.

More by Silas Qayaqjuaq (Two Photographs)

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The two statues by Silas gave me an opportunity to play with light and some close up photography to get the details I wanted; especially from the material (bone) in this carving. There are a surprising number of things around the house that make for good photographic subjects.

The Bee’s Knees (Two Photographs)

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The bee’s knees is an expression of unknown origin but indicates something of excellence or high quality. Given the importance of bees to the environment, our food chain and our well being, the title seems appropriate.

Close-Up (Two Photographs)

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While I am experimenting with extreme macro, I don’t want to lose sight of the great results possible by just getting a little closer. In nature especially there are many things that amaze when you look at them more closely, like this echinacea.

Painted Lady (Two Photographs)

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I could spend all day shooting painted ladies. Unlike most insects they are tolerant of close up photography, preferring to eat than fly away. A remarkable butterfly to watch at work. In addition, they seem to love to land against good backgrounds!


Experimenting (Three Photographs)

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These were shot in a garden where I was at a loss as to what to shoot first given the options. I wanted something new and fresh. I had the idea of just photographing form. I enjoy photography most when I am experimenting and/or shooting something challenging.

Copper Butterfly (Two Photographs)

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Besides the incredible detail of this butterfly, what amazed me was the camera, the Nikon D500, 200-500 mm F5.6 lens at 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 of a second at f8. The D500 is a great camera and I cannot complain about the lens (though it did stick and I had to send it back to Nikon, who fixed it for free in under two weeks).

Hairstreak Butterfly

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There are many small butterflies and among them are the hairstreaks. I had a look in a number of reference books and had no luck in finding a specific name for this hairstreak. This poor fellow is getting on and its wings are fraying. It is more difficult to get butterflies face on and if you do try it, it may be at the expense of determining their taxonomy precisely. I find the faces more interesting than the taxonomy, but entomologists, specifically lepidopterists, are free to disagree 🙂

Assassin Bugs (Two Photographs)

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This was my first attempt at Assassin Bugs. I was quite pleased to get a male and female in one place at the same time. The male is easier to find, the female blends in. I would not have seen the couple had it not been for the fact that we were patiently waiting for a bird to come back to a nest. Getting a little bored I had a look around to see what else was about. In the weeks since I looked for more examples but it was a long time before I saw more of them (their camouflage is generally excellent). Assassin bugs are determined enough not to be bothered by a photographer. Their name speaks to their stealth and how they prey on a number of other insects.

Assasin 2

Purdon Conservation Area – The Butterflies (Four Photographs)

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Yesterday I posted the Lady Slipper Orchids, today it’s the Skipper Butterflies. The butterflies were a surprise and almost seemed sedated, if they landed on you you had to push to get them off. During our visit we saw hundreds of skippers. They moved slowly and deliberately, covering the flowers. I did a few close-ups here to show the detail of the butterflies. Finally, and for reasons unexplained, the skippers could be found in the bowl of almost all of the Lady Slippers. The Lady Slippers are not carnivorous, but some skippers and bees get caught in the bowl and cannot get out. The plants are considered endangered in the U.S.A. and some believe that the skippers dying inside may not help matters much.

Prudon Skippers-3

Prudon Skippers-4

Prudon Skippers

What’s in a name? (and a reminder about white balance.)

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Two relatively ugly insects mating on the ground probably doesn’t make for a spectacular photo. However, it’s the back story here that taught me a lesson. Frequently people ask me what I’m shooting, the relatively large soft box I use for lighting raises curiosity. I was taking this picture when a person came by who is normally of few words and told me they were cadaver beetles. Now if you know what it is like to look up insect names, you will understand my appreciation of this tip. On returning home none of my books had reference to a cadaver beetle and I have a lot of reference books (the pictures in most reference books are not always helpful – think police station mug shot portfolio). Google was more helpful, it came up with American Carrion Beetle and with that my reference books worked somewhat better. Had I not had the original hint I would not have known where to begin; popular names of insects change all the time and the entomologists are working on a new taxonomy of beetles so figuring out what is what can be a bit tricky. One other point about these beetles is that they perform a sort of taxi service to dinner for some other smaller insects. From a photographic perspective, what made a huge difference to this photo was setting the white balance in post-processing. I do not do that often enough but it can really help make a photograph work out right.

Insects and a Comment on Cropping (Two Photographs)

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Is it possible that there are people who do not appreciate insect photography? In my defense insects in the wild are best, insects, found in the house or eating the garden are not so good (we have a catch and release policy in our house). In any event one of my photographic passions is the photography of insects. My aim in posting insect photography is to show a world of animals most people will never see. In this case we have some flower flies (family Syrphidae) mating.

I was told early on by a published insect photographer that cropping was inevitable with close-up photography. Most cameras today, apart from the point and shoots have 16 to 40 megabyte sensors with most in the 16 megapixel to 24 megapixel range. This was taken with a 24 megapixel camera and heavily cropped (over 80%). Obviously the closer you get the less you need to crop, but how close you can get before your subject leaves or before you are out of your comfort zone are equally important. (One caveat is that there is a limit to cropping when the picture starts pixelating.) The photo below cannot be cropped much more that it is. But there are other considerations to take into account and they have affected all of my photography regardless of size or type of subject. The center focus point in most cameras, dead center in the frame is most accurate and most effective. Using it to advantage means centering your subject, there are a lot of circumstances where fast critical focus is needed. Shooting like this means cropping in post. Our focus on a given subject can be like tunnel vision and we may miss things in the frame, shooting wider and cropping later helps. If we want to apply rules (rule of thirds, golden triangle etc.) it is easier in post than in camera under these conditions. In effect the crop gives us another artistic tool, to create our final product. Most nature photographers crop most if not all of the time and how a picture is cropped can lead to all sorts of debate on the web. One of my photos a few years ago was re-cropped by a participant on a forum. Had this person not been the officer who prepared the U2 photographs for Adlai Stevenson to present at the UN during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I might not have been so happy to see the results 🙂 Lastly, and I am thinking along the lines of those challenges where a photo is processed in more than one way, cropping can mean one frame has more than one photograph in it. Purists who believe that out of the camera perfection is possible and the only approach will be disappointed with my suggestions. I won’t be taking their calls.

Flies mating 2