Posts tagged “Insects

Damselflies (Two Photographs)

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I seldom process insects in Black and White,however, I am noticing a few advantages. The eyes of damselflies are hard to focus on as they fluid filled, this matters less in black and white. The wings also stand out a bit better. What is lost of course is the wonderful blue of damselflies and their stripes, while prominent in black and white, don’t have that racing strip look. Everything has trade-offs.

A Lot Going on (Two Photographs)

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Besides the dragonflies mating we have wood that shows the tunnels of beetles coming into adulthood, color and other elements that hint of fall. Sometimes busy photos are not so bad especially if they have depth. It’s finding complex scenes that you hope will work that is the challenge. Artists often go out on a limb, so to speak, to show something new or something they think has potential. Why not photographers?

Downward Gaze (Two Photographs)

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I have written before about how easy it can be to take grasshopper photographs, (they jump once and the key is to  find where they land after that). I have done a lot of photographs in both black and white and colour, and there will be more I am sure. One reason for this is that I want to learn more about black and white, the other is that the same photograph in colour and black and white are very different. There are many occasions where a photograph does now work either way or looks better in one of the other. It’s a learning experience for me.

A Male Midge (Two Photographs)

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The midge is one of the smallest creatures I can shoot hand-held. That marvelous mane of bristling hair reminds me of some theater costumes. Midges for the most part are an annoyance, collecting in clouds you don’t see until it’s too late. Once you find some bushes that they like you can revisit those bushes and find them in pairs or alone. They are seldom disturbed by the camera or the flash.

A Milkweed Beetle and a Note on the Rule of Thirds (Two Photographs)

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People who have read my blog for while will know I do not consider the rule of thirds anywhere near a law, though it is helpful. For those unfamiliar with the rule here is a link (Rule of Thirds). Recently I read about a couple who returned their wedding photos with a number of complaints including the lack of the use of this rule. So why don’t I think its law or even a rule? Because composition is part of the art of photography, if one rule of composition fit all it would not be an art. Why is it useful?Because it makeIs you think about composition. There are many other general ideas for composition you can read about, negative space, the golden spiral etc. It’s the word rulethat misleads. It’s your composition that should lead the audience‘s eye to your subject and if the rule helps thats great. One of the photos of the beetle in this post follows the rule the other does not.

Milkweed Bug and Aperture (Two Photographs)

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As you get closer to a subject like this milkweed bug, the depth of field shrinks for any given aperture. At F 11 I would expect to get a farmhouse a mile away in focus from front to back. This milkweed bug was taken at F11 and as you can see it’s not all in focus. Had I used F 16, slightly more would be in focus but due to a phenomenon called diffraction I would get a soft result (a complicated explanation and calculator for when it is most likely to happen can be found at My rule of thumb is max out my F stop at F14 and rarely go to F 16. You will also see here what is called selective focus, our subject is mostly in focus and not much else. More importantly you should be aware that the size of the camera sensor affects depth of field (multiply the Fstop by the crop factor e.g. a Nikon DX  crop factoris 1.5.) So on a full frame camera like the Nikon D800 thephotos here would have less depth of field at the same aperture. Macro and close up photography benefit from smaller sensor cameras.

Macro: Lady Bugs and The Perfidies of Aperture

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The two photographs show different kinds of lady bugs, in the shot of two insects the one on the right is a young lady bug (an “instar” e.g. an earlier stage of growth). There is a world to learn about when it comes to entomology. You can join  to help with identification and if you send them your photos of insects you cannot identify, the entomologists will help. There are some other great guides to insects.Arthur V. Evans, Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America was my first guide and still a wonderful help.

Macro: There are two things in short supply in close-up and macro photography, depth of field and light. The closer we get to something, the narrower the depth of field at any given F stop and the less light reflected off our subject. If you get close enough into the true 1:1 macro range, depth of field becomes wafer thin even at F 16. If extreme macro photography is your thing then I suggest this site:

If we stand a little further back  and are prepared to crop images like many if not most pros do, then we can avoid extreme solutions. Some say its best to shoot insects side on, that is supposed to get you maximum depth of field but is not the most practical solution. Moving back and cropping in post production is, the use of extension tubes is (see yesterday’s post). The point is to be prepared for the lack of depth of field. Using F stops above F 14 can lead to some softness (diffraction of which more in another post). There is a lot of science behind the comments here but I will spare you. Next I will propose solutions for the lighting problem.

In an earlier post I mentioned that aperture should be multiplied by the crop factor, and that as a result crop factor cameras give some advantage in macro photography. Mike Simms commented on this issue: “but the speed/light gathering properties of the aperture remain the same. In other words if your settings on a full-frame camera were say F2.8 at 1/2000sec at ISO 100, that does not mean that the exposure would become an F5.6 at 1/1000thsec at ISO 100 on an M43 sensor with its x2 crop factor. On the M43 your exposure settings would be identical to the full frame camera, only the depth of field would act like F5.6.”