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.
(Click on the image for a larger view.)
I found the centipede dead on my porch last month - it probably ventured out during an unusually warm spell that we had and then was caught in the open when temperatures dropped back to their normal sub freezing levels.
I don't think this technically can be described as "extreme macro" since the magnification was actually somewhat less than 1:1.
The condition of the subject is a major limiting factor in this shot - in a few months I should be able to find invertebrates that in much better condition. But for now - January in frozen Michigan - I can only work with what I find... I did stumble into another stinkbug and may give it a go soon.
This was shot with a Pentax K-3, A* 200mm f4 macro lens at f5.6, Vivitar extension tube (with contacts) and AF360FGZ flash. The tube served primarily to allow the camera to get clear of the focusing rails and the lens was set to less than its 1:1 maximum magnification, so the actual magnification was about 1:1 or even a little less.
This is 37 stacked exposures. I have been using both Zerene Stacker and also stacking in Photoshop CS6. The results seem to be equally divided between the two - in this case the the nod went to the stack merged in Potoshop CS6.
Yesterday I learned that two pieces I had submitted to the Carnegie Center for the Arts 2015 Regional Juried Arts Competition were accepted by the jurors. Based out of Three Rivers, Michigan, the Carnegie Center sponsors this competition for artists living in Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana. It’s open to works in all media. As an annual event with several years of history, this show always brings out excellent work from the area.
The two pieces of mine that were accepted are "Forest Floor Still Life" from November, 2013 -
and "Gates of Dawn" taken this past October:
The exhibit opens next Sunday, January 25, with an artist reception from 2-5. The exhibit runs from January 25 - February 25, 2015. More info can be found at the Carnegie Center’s website at www.trcarnegie.com .
Another snowflake / snow crystal from a few days ago... I rather like the cat face in the center (looks like a cat to me at least...)
This is one of the smaller crystals I've worked with recently - just a couple of millimeters across. I used a Pentax K-3 and reverse mounted 50mm f.28 macro lens with 220mm of extension between the lens and the body to get the needed magnification. Click on the image for a larger view.
I shot this snow crystal in 2002 on slide film (probably E100S). By today's standards it is a rather poor picture - I still use film a lot but for snow crystals, digital is definitely better. (Lower noise, better edge definition.) But for me this was a watershed image in that it was in this shoot that I figured out how to get consistent results. The setup I used to take this image was totally different than what I used in the years before, and still is at the heart of what I do these days.
I proceeded to shoot snow crystals on E100S and Velvia for the next couple of years before upgrading to a DSLR.
Shooting snow crystals on film was pretty challenging - in the early days (1998 and the few years following) I used manual flash and controlled exposure by controlling the flash to subject distance, which I worked out on in a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet running on a 486 DOS computer outside in snow... It felt high tech at the time! Those were fun days.
I'm posting this now in response to a query regarding the Star of David in snow crystals. If you look at this in a certain way you can see a Star of David embedded in this image. Jon Nelson's excellent article "The Six-fold Nature of Snow" helps clarify why snowflakes form in six sided shapes.
Winter is truly here - at last! It was -8F (-22C) this morning with a howling wind. By mid afternoon snow was falling and for brief intervals some nicely formed snowflakes fell. I spent several hours outside, partially shooting and partially shoveling, and managed to eek out a few good photographs.
This is probably the best of the day (click on the image for a larger view):
Lastly - a wee small crystal, one of the last shots for the day:
All images made with a Pentax K-3, DFA 50mm f2.8 macro (reverse mounted on bellows and tubes) and AF360FGZ flash.