Posts tagged “Macro Photography

Macro Gear

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My preferred gear, for many years, when shooting insects was my Nikon, a 105mm macro lens, an extension and a soft box on camera with flash. This worked well for insects in the wild. But I rarely if ever took photos at life size 1:1. During the pandemic I am avoiding the parks, too many people. From previous experiments I had an original Nikon bellows, and a really good 50mm Nikon enlarger lens (recommended by http://extreme-macro.co.uk/) but I had a hard time getting good results with that and a generic focusing rail. It was clear I needed to find another way. The photo here is of a small part of a candy wrapper . My new set up has the bellows automated on a macro rail (wemacro rail and stand). That and some specialized software looks much more promising.

 


Macro

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This seashell was taken with stacked shots at larger than life size. There are three types of macro: 1) pseudo macro, what most of us call macro but is really close-up photography. It seldom if ever gets to life size shots. 2) Macro, the real thing, This results in photos where small things are larger than life (e.g. over 1:1), and then there is extreme macro where images are 5 times life or more. This photo is are over 1:1, less than a centimetre of shell filling the frame (cropping does not change magnification). It’s a project to help avoid boredom during the pandemic. I don’t pretend to be an expert. I have had many failures and still working for the best results.

 


How much magnification? (Two Photographs)

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I am told that to get to 10x life size, a microscope and loan from the Government is required. 3-5x life size is a fairly good extreme to begin with. My bellows with a 50mm enlarger lens, and a 24mm extension tube can manage about 4:1. To get some context, here are details of Canadian and US dimes. Specifically the Queen’s profile and Roosevelt’s ear.

 


That Bee (Two Photographs)

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Another sweat bee, doing its thing and taking off. Because of their colour and antics they are the most popular type of bee in our local woods. They are best found in late summer when they are looking for their final meals of the season.


Love and Hate, Macro (Three Photographs)

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What I like about close-up photography is that I get to see things I otherwise would never see. On the other hand narrow depth of field, difficulties with light and capturing detail lead to some effort in achieving a good result.


Bee Fight (Two Photographs)

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I was very surprised to learn that bees fight. This bout took about 4 seconds, and in the last round the bee on the right chose to fly off, leaving leftie to carry on pillaging the flowers. Nature Photographers are always on the look out for the unusual. This time it just happened while I was trying to shoot a metallic bee.


Hairstreak Butterfly (Two Photographs)

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I have posted photos of the Hairstreak before, so this time I wanted to try a black and white treatment. Black and white brings out elements that colour hides and also brings out a bit of drama (almost always a good thing in photography).

 


Hummingbird Moth (Two Photographs)

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If you see one of these wonderful creatures, time is not on your side. You need a super fast shutter speed and great reflexes just to get a few good shots. The moths are almost always in flight and hovering means a bit of jitter. Nonetheless they are quite a catch as they are not common where I live.


A Bee on Echinacea (Two Photographs)

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The echinacea flower is a favourite of bees and makes for a classic bee shot. The trick is to take many photographs while moving closer and filling the frame. My preference is to have the bee less centred on the flower, but I get what I get.


A Hornet (Two Photographs)

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Hornets are not my favourite subjects and fortunately I don’t see many. This one took me by surprise. I saw an insect but it was not until I got close up that I realized what it was. Thankfully it was otherwise occupied and ignored me.


A Slight Obstruction (Two Photographs)

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Insects often try to hide behind things, as do rabbits etc. I was once asked what I do about that. I explained that sometimes it doesn’t matter, sometimes it tells a story and sometimes it’s annoying. Two out of three are not bad odds for a good shot.


A Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

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When I took these photographs I had never seen these butterflies before. The camera overexposed the photos, but not so much that I could not fix it later. Like most butterflies the visit was short but sweet.


Little Guy (Three Photographs)

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I was tempted to enlarge this photo because of the detail in the bee. However, I thought the surroundings complimented and framed the bee in an interesting way. You can often format a photo in different ways making for very different photographs, I prefer consistent series when I can manage them.


Solo Monarch (Two Photographs)

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Monarchs are marvellous butterflies and having posted a pair mating earlier this week, I thought I would try a solo monarch in black and white. I have published the colour version for comparison.


Mating Monarchs (Two Photographs)

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I may have posted these before; but they were one of the highlights from last summer. I doubt I will be seeing anything quite so good this year. In fact I am seeing little opportunity for photography without risk these days. I took a quick look at a favourite nature reserve and it was packed with people.


Hanging In (Two Photographs)

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The way these dragonflies have landed illustrates how delicate and light they are. I have seen naturalists capture them and hold them in their hand before letting them go again, a very delicate manoeuvre. In photographic terms the position of the insects says something about them and that’s a story.


White Admiral Butterfly (Three Photographs)

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This was one very nice butterfly, and I took over sixty shots (more to come). It was late in the season and as you can tell from the last photo its wings had been damaged, a sure sign of age in a butterfly.


Flying Bees (Two Photographs)

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I have mentioned bees in flight before and the problems of capturing shots of them. These were taken at a relatively low speed for anything in flight 1/800th of a second. These shots were enlarged and I would prefer to be closer to the bee for more detail. I am beginning to think that taking shots of bees in flight is not a skill but luck.


Issues with Bees (Two Photographs)

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I have taken many photographs of bees as my long time followers will know, but very few in flight or moving. These are typical of shots taken with a high shutter speed and a fairly large aperture. Taking photographs of bees in flight is challenging because they vibrate at high speeds even when appearing still. It’s why I mostly stick to bees that have fully landed.


Painted Lady (Two Photographs)

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Butterflies are beautiful in flight and on flowers. On the latter they are sometimes like ballerinas. I try to shoot butterflies in a way that I can see as much of the body, eyes and wings as possible, and against as good a background I can get.


A World Without Bees (Two Photographs)

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I could not imagine a world without bees; they do so much for us as they are prodigious pollinators. As for photography, they make great subjects. It is sometimes hard to get great detail in the body shadows, or see the eyes. For me that depends on the sun, as I chose not to do too much work in processing.


Damselflies (Two Photographs)

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I remain impressed with the combination of the Nikon D500 and the 200-500 F5.6 lens. I have shot damselflies up close with a macro lens and it’s not just more difficult but the closer you are the more likely your subject will fly off. That is much less likely with a 500 mm lens.


Lotus Borer Beetle (Three Photographs)

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This longhorn beetle is a real pest and its rather hostile look does not help its image. You can see on its back the distinctive “W” markings. I have never seen them in flight and they are not easily disturbed by noise or flash.


Dragonfly (Two Photographs)

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Not all dragonflies are wonderful up close and one seldom has the flexibility for too many perspectives in shooting them. In these two shots of the same insect you can see some of the issues, such as how much is in focus.