Posts tagged “Macro Photography

Jumping Spider (Two Photographs)

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Four years ago I would run in the opposite direction from any spider. Today if I find one in the house I capture it and release it and I quite like taking pictures of spiders. Few are as attractive as the jumping spider family. This particular spider is exhibiting what humans think of as curiosity, and it’s a trait ascribed by many to jumping spiders. When I come across a jumping spider and it sees me it rises on its front legs and stares back. In fact it’s probably in a semi-aggressive stance trying to look bigger. These spiders are harmless and people do pick them up and have a look at them without problem. They are not above jumping onto your clothes (I have had more on my jacket than I have been able to shoot!). Given their diet of flies, mosquitoes etc. we should be grateful for their work. Very impressive creatures, it’s amazing to watch them do their high-flying act from one bush to another. These are old photographs, published for the first time.

Dragon Storm (Five Photographs)

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I missed the dragonflies emerging from the water again this year and only came across their discarded shells (exuvia). You can see these in the third photo. The strings are part of the larval breathing system. However, I was able to see my first dragonfly swarm. Hundreds of dragonflies were flying about in a relatively small area. Nothing hostile, nothing frightening – it was just a wonder to see. Normally dragonflies are a bit territorial but as you can see they hung like Christmas ornaments off the bushes. From my readings these swarms occur when food is plentiful, and indeed the midges that had plagued the park were not in evidence where the swarm was present.

DRgonfly Storm -2

DRAGON Storm-3

DRAGON Storm-2

DRgonfly Storm -2-2


Skippers and Backgrounds (Three Photographs) and more on Sharp Photos

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I have written about backgrounds many times on this blog, to the effect that they can make all the difference in a photograph. It’s not just about Bokeh but non-distracting yet complementary backgrounds. In these three shots I have done different things. First I used a narrow depth of field to get the yellow flower to defocus in the background. Second I positioned myself to take advantage of the out of focus flower, this resulted in a large number of shots as I was not quite certain if the sun-like flower should be behind the butterfly or beside it. Thirdly in Photoshop using Levels, I changed the color palette behind the butterfly by letting the colors come out of the shadows (brightening the mid-tones). I think the first one works best, but I show the others as examples.

Part IV: Sharp Photos and the Camera

Most cameras will add some sharpening to your photo as it’s shot, and not just for the JPG you see as a preview on the back of your camera. Your processing software will also most likely add a touch of sharpening on import. Processing JPG files is not ideal for the sharpest photos. Raw format (DNG,NEF,CR,OR depending on the manufacturer) gives you more room to deal with sharpness in post-processing. Color modes like landscape, saturated etc. add more sharpening than shooting with a flat/neutral color mode. Raw files give you room to add sharpening and bring back color in post-processing. You can magnify the shot on the back of your camera and this gives a good idea of the sharpness, but not always. In close up photography, for example, what looks soft may be tack sharp when on your computer, this is because the image on the back of your camera is a small JPEG and not the actual photo. Next, sharpness and camera supports.

Skipper Butterfly-2Skipper Butterfly-3




Bees (Two Photographs) and more on Sharp Photographs

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I am not sure if these are sweat bees or mason bees. Taken at 300m, handheld, 1/2000th of a second at ISO 640.

Part III: Sharp Photos and Lenses.

There are many things the industry looks at in lenses to ensure quality. One of those is resolution. Today’s camera sensors are not the issue, lenses are far more important in terms of resolution. Complex studies are made of lenses to determine their resolution, Cambridge in Color has a technical brief on resolution ( Without going into too much detail, resolution is one of the reasons why professionals say that good lenses are more important than top of the line cameras. Zoom lenses tend to be less sharp than prime lenses. There is a way, however to ensure that any lens is at its sharpest. Avoid shooting the largest aperture, lowest Fstop. I have a F5.6 lens and I shoot it at F6.3 for very sharp shots, my F2.8 lenses at F4 etc. Others find F8 works for them. With variable aperture lenses, say those that have smaller apertures when you zoom out, the same principle applies but you may have to experiment, such as, by photographing a newspaper against a wall several feet away. Next post: shooting sharp.


A Beetle (Three Photographs)

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This is a member of the Carabidae family of beetles and probably Playtinus Cincticollis. Finding the name for an insect is part of the fun (sometimes all I can find is the Latin name). These are common and normally nocturnal but attracted to light. I saw it in a shady corner and without artificial light it would have been impossible to shoot. Now these beetles tend to eat other insects, often pests, so they are welcome in many places. Their defense is a noxious spray that can hurt other animals including humans (something I was unaware of when I took these shots). What was noticeable in the time I spent taking the pictures was that this was a deliberate creature with long legs capable of significant speed, but it was moving slowly examining everything including me. It is not one of the more beautiful beetles but it certainly has presence.

Platynus cincticollis-2

Platynus cincticollis

Damselfly Party (Four Photographs) and a word on lenses

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This was an extraordinary opportunity, four damselflies mating. There are two sets of photographs here each cropped to 8 1/2 by 11 and processed the same way. The first two photographs were taken with a Nikon D7200, a 105mm (d) lens, and a 20mm extension tube at 1/250th, F14, ISO 400 and flash. The last two photographs were taken with a D500, 200-500mm lens at 500mm, 1/320th , F7.1, ISO 400, no flash. Frankly I like them all. It goes some way in making my point that with close up photography, lenses are often not the main consideration; light, positioning, focus etc. are.

Damselfies in Love-2

Damselfies in Love-3

Damselfies in Love-2

Lady Bug (Three Photographs)

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These were done with the same technique discussed in yesterday’s post – the Orton Effect, although I will admit it is much toned down. This ladybug was the first I saw this year (May). This beetle seemed determined to get to the end of the branch, but as you can see once there it turned around. I am sure it was looking for leaves but with the cold May we had, they were few and far between.