Posts tagged “Photo

The lens (the tenth in The Frustrations Files series)

The lens1To view more of my photography please click on

They say the lens is more important than the camera. Spend on the lens save on the body. There is always discussion about whether you need to cover the range from wide to telephoto. Obviously budget drives a lot of this, as does what you want to photograph.

Lenses have advanced in design; we now have image stabilization (more insurance than a guarantee), perfected lens hoods and lenses designed for cropped sensors. The truth is that some older lenses are better than the latest lenses and not just in quality of glass, lens formulas etc.. One lens that disappointed me was a macro; on its predecessor you could limit the auto-focus to the lowest end (e.g. closest focus distance range) and that made sense for a macro lens. Its successor does the opposite for no obvious reason.

Manufacturers have done a lot to get cameras into the hands of consumers, and not all plastic lenses with variable apertures are bad (some are excellent e.g Nikon 18-55). The top of the line lenses will always be primes with single apertures operative through the entire range of the lens (e.g. a F2.8/24-70mm). Many of these lenses are pricey. Shooting full frame lenses with an AP-C sensor body seems a waste but you get to use the best part of the lens, the center.

The modern designs are no different than older lenses in forcing us to learn the best aperture for a specific focal length, that point where the lens operates best.

Tele-converters are popular because they can double the focal length of your lens, but at the cost of an Fstop or two and image quality can suffer dramatically if the right aperture is not used (the Nikon 300 2.8 is great with 2x tele-converter but only set at f8).

I am a fan of the ability on some lenses to go from auto to manual focus with a twist of the focus ring.

It’s not unusual for a professional level kit to begin with a 24-70 (f2.8) and a 70-200 (f2.8), with that combo most everything is covered. You can go further and get a wider-angle lens and/or a super telephoto, and there are specialized lens for macro-close up, architecture, primes for street and portraiture as well as wide to telephoto zooms for travel.

Building your kit of lenses can take some time and research. It’s a pity to buy an expensive all-purpose lens and discover its too slow and unusable in certain light conditions; so think carefully of your potential uses for the lens, bearing in mind your camera’s capabilities.

Damselflies in Tandem

Damselflies in TandemTo view more of my photography please click on

From my reading this illustrates the hold that the male places on the female until she decides to move her body under the male. When that happens the two form a heart-shaped formation, which is simply amazing. I have some shots of this on my SmugMug website. Chance plays a significant role in taking pictures of mating damselflies. In this case they are taking a pause before flying off and finalizing the relationship. I waited for them to form the heart formation but they stayed in this position as they flew away over the water and out of sight.


A Burst of Light

A Burst of LightTo view more of my photography please click on my newly designed SmugMug site

Flower photography is not just about flowers, like all photography it’s about impact, context, light and tone. In this photograph there is the contrast between the flower and the background, the context that tells us it is in a garden, and the light and depth of field define the flower.

Most importantly for this photograph, I wanted to emphasize the interior of the flower. I wanted to see it come alive regardless of the background; a more faded background might have made a difference. However, I used artificial light and a fstop of f25 (older lenses have some very small apertures). That combination highlighted the flower and defined the interior.

This was one of my experiments with artificial light to see if I could use it as described above. I am still learning and experimenting with this technique, sometimes it’s not as successful as this, but it’s fun.

The Buttercup

The Buttercup!To view more of my photography please visit

The petals of the buttercup collect light like a reflector posing interesting challenges.

In these situations to get the detail in the buttercup you end up under-exposing the background, as in this shot. Now you could increase the shadows etc. in post processing but you run the risk of a very noisy/grainy distracting background. If you evenly light the scene the detail in the petals is lost. Again we could use software to balance detail with background light, but it would most likely look artificial.

In this photograph the background is darker, the sun lighting the petals is what the photograph is based on. This is one of those occasions where we can marvel at the human eye and brain that can balance a huge range of light and keep the detail. Unfortunately even with new high dynamic range techniques we seldom get close to what our eyes see. The photographer’s job is to decide what to emphasize given the limitations.

Butterfly on a Daisy

Skipper Butterfly-2To view more of my photography please visit

Normally our eyes are drawn to the brightest object in a photograph or the area of greatest contrast. If there are two bright spots our eyes get confused and generally discount the photograph and have to take a second look to make sense of it. In some cases you can crop this problem away.

In this example the eye is drawn to brightness and definition. Where the Skipper sits is both in focus and bright, and I hope your eye is lead to it. The rest of the photo is context. To crop the photograph would mean removing evidence that this was taken in the wild.

Having spent time with people who capture insects, bugs etc. to photograph or study, I find it more challenging to stick with creatures in nature. I am less concerned about identifying the creature, although that is interesting, and more about the quality of the photograph. The challenge is not finding the creatures, it is about finding the creatures where you have the ability to get a good angle, enough in focus, and the light to make a photograph worthwhile. I have thrown out more shots for bad focus, bad lighting, and bad angles than I have because the creature was boring to look at!

Forest Cabin


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Markets and Merchants


Link to my new Gallery At Smugmig

 I have posted some”new photos” that have not appeared on WordPress.  I say “new” because a few are from the film days of yore.  I hope you will take time to visit them.