This leaf footed bug - possibly Acanthocephala terminalis - showed up in my house recently, so I arranged for a macro portrait session. This is 69 stacked images taken at approximately 2.5x lifesized. Click on the image for a much larger file.
February is coming to a close and with it the 2014/15 snowflake photography season starts to wind down. Ironically I've had few opportunities to photograph snowflakes in the past few weeks not because winter is fading and things are warming up, but rather because it is so cold that Lake Michigan has almost completely frozen over. As the ice cover grows on the lake there is less lake effect snow.
Here's a handful of snowflake photos, most from today but with two from last week. All were exceedingly small and were photographed using a 50mm lens reverse mounted on over 350mm of extension - one very gangly set up! Click on the images for larger files.
Two more snowflake photos from last week's storm. These both look like they were forming into sectored plates but show some rime, wear and other irregularities. Both were quite small and I had the reverse mounted 50mm lens on close to 200mm of extension for these. click on the images for larger files:
A few pictures of trees - older exposures taken on 6x7 negative, reworked using newer techniques (click on the images to see much larger files). This first image is a back lit maple, taking in the Allegan Forest. I still see this tree regularly, but the DNR has started dumping brush and other trash behind it, so it no longer is very photogenic. Taken with a Pentax 6x7, Tri-X 320 in HC-110 Dil H. A number 11 green filter helped lighten up the scene:
This massive tree is in the Ft. Custer Recreation Area (next to the Fort Custer military facility.) Another 6x7 negative reprocessed in 2015 - don't recall the film type on this one:
We had a moderately strong winter storm in west Michigan yesterday, leaving just under 14 inches (35.5 cm) of snow - now being dubbed the Groundhog Day Snowstorm. Unfortunately, the quality of the snow crystals was lacking and despite shooting for about 9 hours (on and off) I only managed to get a handful of acceptable images. This is the best crystal I saw all day... The plate of glass that I catch the crystals on filled up with dusty bits of broken snowflakes when suddenly in the thick of it all this very nicely formed stellar dendrite lands... Not only is it well formed, but it also did not land on top of a lot of debris and detritus, which happens all too often in heavy snows.
The image above is my best take of this crystal - taken with a single red led "lens" (the cover that snaps over a holiday light) on the flash. I positioned the flash so that the red lens was at the edge of the frame, resulting in a crystal that is generally lit by the white light of the flash with red light entering at an angle to create colored highlights.
Before using the red light I tried a few experiments with the yellow lens. Here's the best of those:
In this case the yellow lens is directly below the crystal, so it is getting the full effect of yellow light. In my last experiment I noted the blue color in the crystal, and that is repeated here. I had wondered if it might be the result of the multi-white balance setting, but in experimenting yesterday I found n that multi white balance had no effect on the blue crystal phenomena - so it much just be how the crystal bends the light! I experimented with the yellow filter on a few more crystals, but ultimately abandoned it in favor of the red filter.
More images from yesterday's storm will be coming...
A respectable snowstorm has been working its way through the Great Lakes region today, and I've most of the day outside alternately photographing snowflakes and shoveling them off the sidewalk. Taking a break right now and planning to head back out once feeling returns to my fingers and toes...
Here's the first shot of the day - a very small plate that maybe started to grow towards being a sectored plate, and either stopped or had the plates worn off. This was shot with a single red lens on the flash - I'm not sure what the striations are in the crystal itself. Maybe they are stress fractures - the wind has been howling like a banshee all day and bashing the snow crystals to pieces.
Click on the image for a larger view.
Made with a Pentax K-3, DFA 50mm macro reverse mounted on lots of extension.
Here's an image that still speaks to me - the full moon setting over the South Haven, Michigan, lighthouse:
I made this image back in 2002 and of course on film. Got up early to get to the beach on time, and set up the camera and tripod on an ice dune along the shore, south of the lighthouse. It was -12F (-24C) - i.e. damn cold! - and a steady breeze blew off the lake. I loaded Kodak E100S (if I recall correctly) into my trusty Pentax Pz-1p and shot 3 rolls of film before the cold overwhelmed me. Back at my car I dropped my keys, and actually had a hard time picking them up and getting my fingers to work them into the door.
Another photographer showed up shortly after I arrived. Like me, he had watched the moon rise/set times on an online almanac and picked a time close to dawn when the conditions would be right for this kind of shot. (You need to shoot the moon in twilight if you want to balance the lighting between the moon, and the earth here below.) He had driven up from Indiana, considerably farther than my short trip. I don't remember his name, but we grabbed some hot coffee and breakfast at a nearby fast food joint.
The ultimate irony: the extreme temperatures were just too much for the Sigma EX 70-200 f2.8 lens I was using. When the lens chilled down the aperture opened up and would not close. In fairness to Sigma the temperatures were far below the stated operating range for the lens. So, when I picked up my film from the lab I was horrified to see that all of the frames were just blank - all but the first 3. So, here is one of three...
Lighthouses are not a subject matter that I seek out much these days, but I enjoyed photographing them in the past. I came back to this image as part of a project to rebuild my archive galleries on this website -which you can find here:
I recently put together a new collection of 100 snowflake photos. The gallery ranges from some of the first photos I made (on film) in 1999 through photos made in early 2015. If you are interested in seeing more snowflake photos, follow this link:100 Snowflake Photos (or click the snowflake photo below). Enjoy!
We had a few hours of very light snow yesterday. Unfortunately most of the snowflakes that fell were rime encrusted and poorly formed - like this one. I tried to use the opportunity to experiment with lighting the snow crystal with a yellow light source. For reasons unknown to me, this crystal took on a blue hue, while the golden light filled the background. Maybe it is an artifact of the camera's white balance adjustment, especially since the multi white balance feature was enabled and may have tried to compensate for what the camera thought was different light sources.
Well - better blue snow than yellow snow, I guess!
I light these crystals with a flash mounted below the subject. In a few cases - when the snowflake is opaque and the light cannot pass through it - a slave flash is added above. The flash is the sole source of light when the image is taken, to minimize any effects of camera shake. Given that I use a simple tabletop tripod, and the that the lens is typically mounted on lots of extension, vibrations are always a problem. Instead of trying to fasten things down to be rock steady, I rely on the high speed flash to counter the effects of any vibration.
To color the flash, one or two of the colored "lenses" from C6 LED Christmas lights are placed directly on the flash - like this:
The gradient in the images is achieved by moving the flash slightly. Move the flash a few millimeters in one direction and the light will be dominated by the color of the globe. Move it a little too far in the other direction, and the color will be nil. But in the "just right" location, a nice gradient results.
The next possible snow here in Michigan is predicted to be later this week - hoping to continue with some experiments in lighting at that time.
For those interesting in seeing more snowflake photos, here is a gallery of 100 selected snowflake photos from 1999 through early 2015: 100 Snowflake Photos.
The snowflake photo above was made with a Pentax K-3, DFA 50mm macro reverse mounted on extension and maual flash.
Another attempt at extreme / stacked macro (click on the image for a larger file.)
This is roughly 2.5x lifesized and was taken with a Pentax K-3, DFA 50mm f2.8 macro on extension tubes at f 4, AF360FGZ flash. The tubes have the contacts needed for lens to camera communication, I was able to use the flash in P-TTL mode.
This is a 70 image stack, combined in Zerene Stacker. In my last post I commented on comparing the results between stacking images in Zerene Stacker and Photoshop, with mixed results between the two. In this case Photoshop choked on combining these images - even after alloting 750 gigabytes of drive space in scratch disks, it ran out scratch space when trying to combine the 16 bit TIFF files. It did suceed with 8 it TIFFs, but with lots of halos and other issues. So in this case, the nod goes to Zerene Stacker.
Finding high quality insects subject this time of year is difficult - these stinkbugs are the only insects that seem to appear now an again during warm spells. In a few months I hope to be able to present some more interesting subjects.