Category: "Macro Photography"
My seventh attempt at a focus stacked studio macro photo and the first attempt simulating a natural setting.
I am not thrilled with this photo - after taking it I realized that the two hind legs are in an unnatural position and I also managed to damage the spider's right palps (the "boxing glove" like appendage.) I also did not get him cleaned up enough. But, it is still a step forward from my last attempt. This is a focus stack made from 153 separate images combined in Zerene Stacker.
(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.
Here are some fairly high magnification photos of a stinkbug - the only insect that I have recently encountered here in December’s chill. These bugs have been something of a nuisance as last winter and again this year they try to get into the house in late autumn and one or two might appear at any time during the winter. In this case, when I saw it walking across the floor I put it in a jar and then into the freezer. An hour or so later had it pinned and ready for photographing.
Here is the first image, taken at about 2.5x life sized (be sure to click on it for a larger and uglier file):
Here is the second image, which is a more extreme magnification of ~10x:
These aren’t the best examples of this type of photography but the first one is passable. Here are a few technical notes about technique:
Both shots were made using a Pentax K-01 16 megapixel APS C camera. The K-01 was Pentax’s somewhat quirky mirrorless body. I chose it because its focus peaking is excellent, having no mirror means no mirror shake and the sensor in this camera (made by Sony) is one of the best APS-C sensors out there.
One problem I experienced with both images was a loss of sharpness due to the shake of the camera’s shutter. This simple solution to this was to light the photos using flash and crank the shutter all the way up to 1/4000th (the fastest that the K01 can do.) A single flash with a few pieces of white matboard as reflectors did the trick.
The camera was mounted on a focusing rail to allow it to be evenly moved along to create a set of images for stacking. I put a 2 inch spring clamp on the little knob on the focusing rail, which became a small lever that greatly improved my ability to make fine adjustments to the rails’ position.
A Pentax 50mm DFA f2.8 macro lens was used for the first image. This was just a straight macro shot - the lens was set to it’s closes focus point and then mounted on an additional 68mm of extension tubes yielded about 2.4x lifesized magnification. This was shot with the lens wide open at f2.8. With the extension the effective aperture was f7, which should be below the threshold where diffraction starts to limit sharpness. I am lucky enough to have an old set of extension tubes with full electronic contacts, so the TTL flash handled the exposure just fine.
The second photo was made using an Otamat 10mm f1.7 lens mounted on the K01 along with 68mm of extension. I bought this and the 20mm Otamat lens some time ago, but never got around to experimenting with them. The lens I have is mounted on a Pentax body cap so it just attached directly to the extension tubes. I held a ruler up to the lens and just over 2mm filled the frame. Since the K01’s sensor is 23.7mm wide, its safe to say the magnification of this setup was about 10x. Backing into the aperture calculation, the effective aperture would around f19, so diffraction would be expected. Since TTL flash is not supported for the Otamat lens (no contacts to communicate with the body) I just shot with manual flash, which was easily done by taking a few test shots and adjusting the flash’s power setting. This this case the stack was over 100 images (very shallow depth of field.) Unfortunately, this image is just not as sharp as I’d like - I assume due to diffraction.
Both images were stacked in Zerene Stacker. I initially stacked them both in Photoshop CS6, but this was very time consuming and produced poor results - lots of halos and other artifacts.
I’m hoping to explore this technique a little more, hopefully with some more appealing subjects. I have to say - after impaling the stinkbug on a pin, I immediately understood how they got their name!
I’m letting the bull thistle grow here and there, for the sake of the goldfinches. Here is a thistle head as it was today, July 8, 2014 - not ready to flower yet by a long measure. An insect is upon it - probably a grasshopper or katydid nymph. Click for a larger image.
This image is made form 18 exposures, stack focused together, taken with Pentax K3 and A* 200mm macro lens.
Spring 2014 is advancing ever so slowly… Here it is, late May, and there are still many trees just starting to push out leaves. At long last, a few days of warm temperatures have finally brought out some spring dragonflies.
Dot-tailed Whitefaces (Leucorrhinia intacta) are usually the first to appear around here, and this season is no exception. Here are a few from the Allegan Forest (click on the images for larger files):
A Frosted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia frigida):
These Clubtail Dragonflies (Gomphidae) are usually abundant in May - I have never gotten a positive identification on them. Today I only say this one - hopefully more are on the way:
Lastly - an unidentified Bluet Damselfly:
All images were made with a Pentax K-3, SMC A* 200mm macro lens and AF360FGZ flash. Come to think of it… this was my first excursion into insect photography since purchasing the K-3 last November. I think it passes muster!
My Pentax K3 arrived earlier in the week, so this weekend is my first chance to give it a test drive. All I can say is that the more I use this camera, the more impressed I am. Here are a few shots from this weekend - ordered by how well I like them (favorite first) -click on an image for a larger file. These closeups were all taken with the Pentax K3, A* 200mm f4 macro, tripod mounted. Live view, with focus peaking was used to take most of these shots.
This morning I visited the Allegan Forest, which is crawling with hunters this time of year. In a field that reliably hosts Halloween Pennant and Calico Pennant dragonflies in the early summer, I took a few intimate landscapes. This moss shot is a stacked focused composite of several images.
Yesterday was a very windy day and lots of sprigs of berries, like this, were littering the ground. Not sure where they came from. Unlike the previous shot, this is a single exposure.
Another stack focus shot - a different kind of moss.
Didn’t want to adjust anything here…
Eastern prickly pear is pretty abundant in the forest - you gotta be careful where you drop down to take that bug photo.
Berries on moss. These almost look like grapes…
Another stack focused shot - some random leaves on the ground in November…
And lastly - during Saturday’s windstorm my wife and I went to South Haven in hopes of seeing big waves crashing against the lighthouse. Well - you gotta have high winds and they have to come from the right direction to make those big waves. But here is a snapshot of the lighthouse - again in the mode of test driving the K3 - with a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX lens. This is the earliest version of the lens, non-macro and non-DG - but it seems to work OK with the K3:
Pentax K3, Sigma 70-200 f2.8.
Autumn just getting started, but one maple in my yard is always the first to turn, and it always turns a brilliant red. So this afternoon I grabbed the Pentax K-01 and D-FA 100mm macro to take some autumn snaps in my little yard. I only shot for an hour in the heavy overcast, drizzly day. Here’s the results - click on any image for a larger view.
This leaf caught in some decorative grass caught my eye and motivated me to get out and make some photos. The harvester (I grew up calling the Daddy Long Legs) was a bonus.
Raindrops on Autumn Leaves
I live in the city and have a small yard - about 2700 square feet - but I’ve devoted about a third of ti to native prairie plants and they are taking hold. The grey coneflower booms in late July through mid September, but this year it lingered on a bit longer than usual. This one is probably the very last to bloom, here in October. I did not notice the leaf hopper till I processed the image.
Leaves on Pavement
Leaf in Thistle
Cosmos Seed Head
Bones In A Pot