I spent last week hanging out in the Hocking Hills State Park in southern Ohio, hiking some of the trails and looking at waterfalls and caves. Here's a photo of the upper falls near Old Man's Cave (click on the image for a larger view):
It's a little misleading in that the place was teeming with tourists when I took this photo. I did not have a tripod so I took a bunch of images at the lowest shutter speed that I could reasonably hand hold the camera - 1/8th of a second. It was a decent compromise in that any single image what reasonably sharp and the water was slightly blurred. Post processing the images today, I stack focused the group in Photoshop and that increased sharpness considerably by blending the sharpest bits of each of the 29 exposures. I then averaged the exposures and that created a more pronounced blur in the moving water. I blended just the blurred water from the averaged composite into the focused stacked composite for the final image. It would have been better to use a tripod and a ND filter, but this way I didn't have to carry so much while hiking.
Yesterday I visited a favorite pond in the Allegan Forest. For years I knew the pond as a seasonal marsh which went dry every summer, but over the past decade or so it has steadily filled up with water and no longer goes dry. It is host to an enormous number of dragonflies and also frogs, toads, turtles and more. Periodically, a huge number of these tiny toads flood the grassy savannah near the pond:
This is an Eastern American Toad, Anaxyrus americanus. It was quite small, roughly comparable to a US one cent piece in size. Here is a very crude comparison shot:
The field was teeming with these little toads yesterday, something that happens now and then in late spring or early summer. There were literally thousands of these tiny creatures making their way through the fields and into the adjacent woods.
The fireflies (a.k.a. Lightning Bugs) made their appearance here in SW Michigan in the past week or so. Here is a closeup:
Seventy stacked images in two passes. Magnification of approximately 7x lifesized. Pentax K3, SMC K 24mm f3.5 reverse mounted on extension.
I try to make at least one improvement with each of these super macro sessions. In this case I changed how the mounted insect was supported. I had been mounting the insect on a pin and then sticking the pin into a ball of putty. This allowed for easy positioning of the subject, but it could move slightly (specifically - sink slowly) and that has become more apparent at higher magnification. In this case I simply positioned the mounted subject into surgical clamps, which held it tight without the gradual sinking, but made positioning the subject a bit more fiddly. I also used 3 flashes, all manual, for illumination, changing from the two flash setup I had been using.
Here in Michigan these beetles are often called "June Bugs" in reference to the time of year when they appear. They can be extremely common - this one was on a bag of water soften salt pellets that I bought last week.
I believe this is a scarab beetle in the genus Phyllophag.
This is a total of 141 stacked images, three separate stacks of 52 to 40 images each. The separate stacks were combined in Zerene Stacker and those three outputs were stacked in Photoshop CS6. Magnification was just over 5x lifesized. Pentax K3, SMC K 24 f3.5 reverse mounted on extension.
Here's a stack focused portrait of a Crane Fly - click on the image for a larger file:
I'm continuing to work on gaining higher magnifications for these macro photos, and realized that I need to use a shorter focal length for higher magnification on manageable extension. I stumbled into a Pentax MC K 24mm f3.5 lens online last week, and snapped it up. It is an old lens (it was only produced from 1975-1977) and has limited compatibility with modern cameras (including all DSLRs and even the later film cameras.) But it has a reputation for outstanding sharpness and resolution, so I crossed my fingers and bought it.
Here's my first test of this lens. This crane fly's head was bigger than I expected, and this image is at 6x to 6.5x magnification. It does not take an excessive amount of extension to achieve that with a reverse mounted 24mm lens, and so working with this subject was not difficult. I'm somewhat surprised that for a lens of this era there is very little chromatic aberration - virtually none.
Initial results from this lens look very promising! In the next few days I hope to work on some higher magnification levels to assess the results.
Made with a Pentax K3, SMC K 24mm f3.5, extension and flash.
I noticed this fly on the walk leading towards my house. It was making a loud buzzing noise and furtively thrashing on the ground, unable ot fly (despite the wings going like mad) and seemed to be in its death throes. I put in a plastic film canister and then into the freezer. Click on the image for a lager view:
It was fairly large and magnification here is just under 2.5x. I am not sure what the fly is - possibly a Syrphid fly though nothing I look at seems to match up.
Made with a Pentax K3, DFA 50mm f2.8 macro, and extension tubes. 284 stacked images. For this session I experimented with making 2 detailed stacks - 81 and 62 images - and then 4 fairly casual stacks ranging from 50 to just 20 images. This resulted in 6 separate stacks of the subject which were then combined - some were almost complete, others where very banded, but in combination they came together well.
I also tried to improve the background a bit, in this case I picked up a scrap of junk mail with a rather nice graphic on it and stuck it a few inches behind the subject.
A common snipe fly (Rhagio mystaceus) - as suggested by the name, it is a pretty common insect.
Photo made with Pentax K3, DFA 50mm f2.8 macro lens on extension. Magnification of about 3.5x. 135 stacked images - 5 complete passes at the subject combined to eliminate banding.