Category: Macro

Juxtaposition of Space…

I’ve reshuffled things about the house to come up with a dedicated studio area for the time being until I can come up with a better solution.

The idea is to separate me from the computer and the editing software, and go back to experimenting with the equipment and up-skilling myself on that which I use less often. Things such as the miops trigger, a couple of my other remote controls for interval shooting etc. It’s annoying sometimes finding you’ve forgotten how to use something or can’t remember how to access that feature quickly. The only thing I know to fix that, is practise with it. It also gives me an area to mess with prints & frames, and have all my equipment in a single location.

At this stage I can fit a reasonable size backdrop in there, albeit only a short shooting distance, which excludes some lenses for portrait work unless it’s just the upper shoulders & head.

There’s also some good light that would allow some studio macro work for some small set shooting. I like to shoot my Flora & Fauna macro work outside in the natural environment, but there are times I want to experiment with something that’s clearly NOT alive, and the “authenticity” is not a factor. Also some of the Focus stacking can be done inside which makes it far easier to control some environmental factors.

Now having some alternative lighting options should give me the ability to make better use of more time!


Using the Camranger

I have to say that I looked at this device a while ago when I realised that Nikon just wasn’t going to put wireless on a lot of it’s cameras for a while yet. It also offered way more possibilities than the Eye-Fi devices did, even though they were handy. I still use them on occasion, for a quick transmission of photos to show someone. The Nikon Wifi units such as the WU-1B or WU-1A themselves seem of little use to me in their current incarnations, and better units cost significantly more but with no better functionality until you reach the $1000 price range.

The best feature for me is of course the iPad application. It allows me to stop cramping myself into some ridiculously tight spots.


Using the Stackshot

Stackshot-with-Nikon-D600-AF-MICRO-NIKKOR-200MM-F4D-IF-ED

This has been a boon to my Macro Shooting. It allows for absolutely startling Focus Stacking. Given that manual focus is the best option for macro shooting most of the time and even if it wasn’t necessarily the best way to go, I’d rather not use the auto focus with my Nikon 200mm F4 Micro. My one criticism of the lens is that the toggle for the manual / autofocus is fragile and the only real plastic on the lens. Others have commented that over time this is a potential failure point. I’d prefer to not use this particular component of the lens at all. I like to leave it set on Manual and not change it at all. There’s really no need given that the Lens was bought specifically because it’s the best Macro Lens Nikon offer at this stage short of Microscopic Technology.


Beautiful But Deadly If You’re an Insect…

Sundew

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours shooting Sundew that I have growing (natively) up the back of the yard. I’ve always been fascinated by Carnivorous Plants, and although Sundew aren’t as “notorious” as Venus Flytraps, or Pitcher Plants, they’re just as interesting. I think I’m very lucky to have these fascinating plants growing in my backyard “as is” mostly all year around. Not sure I’ve noticed them flowering every year though, but I guess they must.

These ones seem to have only a single flower at a time or possibly one only each time they flower (currently not sure). I believe this one to be Drosera Rosulata “giant” ( white flowers ), and I’m fairly certain the critters around the Stamen are Mites.

These were a good opportunity for the “Stacking” technique I’m using at times, as they are extremely low to the ground, so tend not to move even in a mild breeze. Of course there’s always the chance that the lighting levels can change drastically and quickly at this time of years, but I hoped to get around that by a higher number of shots with more overlap of DoF. That allowed me to drop several if I needed to because the light wasn’t consistent.

Although this shot had preliminary work in Lightroom (Ver. 6) it was then exported and worked on in Helicon Focus before being finally finished off in DXO (just to make you happy Stefan) which I’ve not used much yet. I think it’s come up quite well.


‘Tis the Time of Fungi…

Cortinarius-Archeri

A few hours walking along the side of a road not far from home offers a range of Fungi different from the Chalet de Darriwell. Quite a few I’ve not seen before.

Armed with my new CamRanger, the trusty Nikon Micro 200mm F4, D600, mini tripod and iPad, I took a jaunt up Fisken’s Road on the suggestion of a Neighbour. I wasn’t disappointed (see Flora), I can easily spend another trip there just as enjoyably. I was treated to a variety of new Fungi, most of it Mushrooms. Late Autumn and early Winter can be just as “fruitful” as Summer.


Ode to Fungi…

Here’s a couple of shots done using the Focus Stacking technique not by hand, but rather using the Camranger & it’s associated software for the iPad. Click on each to see a better resolution for the photo.

From one side trying to pickup the back curl.

 

Saffron Milk Cup

From another side trying to follow the curve along the gills.

 

Unfortunately for this mushroom, seconds after I finished shooting, it was broken in half by two furbags, one in hot pursuit of the other. All in fun, but not fun for the poor old fungi!


Calibrated and On Course…

Well at some point when printing photographs you become concerned about the differences in printed media to the scene as edited on the screen. To that end I’ve bought a device for calibrating the monitor. To be able to see the difference I went and had a few recent shots printed at my usual Photography Store, and brought them back to compare again before calibrating. Upon doing so I must say I was concerned that in particular these shots looked considerably less vibrant than I expected.

Interestingly after calibration there was little difference between what I’d had printed and what I saw on the screen. In summary that means I will have to re-edit most prints that I’ve marked for printing or have up for sale. But enough talk, let’s look at examples.

Here is the first print. After the Calibration there was a definite correlation between the screen and the physical print from my photography store print.

Puffball

Then follows the same photo, re-edited after calibration to be about what it appeared on screen to me BEFORE calibration. There’s considerable difference, and although I’ve yet to have this printed, I am fairly confident now that the physical print will match much more closely from now on.

Puffball Pre Calibrated Monitor to Printer

I’m looking forward to reprinting some of my favourites! And, I’m actually glad I’ve yet to make a sale so far from the business, because now I’m much more confident in the quality of the print that someone will be buying. I know now that they will be getting my best.


Stacking It On…

Flowering-Sundew-Drosera-rosulata-“giant”-white-flowers-Plus-Mites

More practise with the Focus Stacking technique in mind this afternoon. Had Stefan drop over and while he was experimenting with his new Fisheye lens, I was crawling on the ground with the 200mm Micro and mini tripod while lying on a blanket to keep the dampness off myself. The toughest parts so far are making sure to overlap the DoF outer range, and getting the shots done in a quick enough time so lighting and other exposure factors in the environment don’t change too noticeably.

So for a couple of hours shooting this afternoon, which admittedly was pleasurable in itself, I really only came out with 5 shots overall that I’m happy about the end result.


Cold Autumn Afternoon

Cold Autumn afternoons are still full of opportunities if only one can muster the effort to get out there with the Camera and seek the beauty that’s present even in such weather. So while I’m out shooting in the backyard, the Furbags come out for some exercise instead of getting fat lying on the slab in the study!

This afternoon I had my first real session of practising shooting with Focus Stacking in mind for the shots later. This is a technique I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Today I took shots with that technique in mind for the post processing. I have to say that my first impressions have left me in awe of the opportunities this opens for my Macro shots in the future.

This first shot

is around about what I’d normally at F8 using the Nikkor Micro 200mm fairly close to the subject.

This next shot is a “composite” of six shots with slightly different focal points and all exposure factors the same.

Of course there’s a nifty bit of software involved to make this happen, called Helicon Focus, not cheap but works damn well. The above is not necessarily a great shot or perfect image, but it’s enough to demonstrate the technique. Over time I’ll become more practised and the shots will become better. But still a good afternoon’s work was done. I’ve some others to work on later, this was just the first to confirm how to make it work.


Real Glass at Last…

Scrum

Well I know I will pull better with this as I go, but I will definitely say I’m happy with the Glass. My Nikkor AF Micro 200mm F4D IF-ED arrived yesterday. It’s going to prove magnificent with more practise. The focus is wonderful and sensitive, feels responsive and solid. A pity I was lacking subjects today, light a bit on the poor side while I was trying to get used to it.

Still I was lucky enough to see some native bees, Nomia I think, out the front yard for something different. Challenging shoot though because the little fellows were continually moving. I had to open the aperture enough to be able to get a high enough shutter to freeze the action, and balance precariously on the tripod to be close enough to make it worth the shot!