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melkor

A collection of macro images from yesterday

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Met up with a few fellow Brisbane macro imagers yesterday, had a grand time. Here's some of the shots that I've processed so far.

 

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Enjoy.

 

Dave

Edited by melkor

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Incredible shots. The fly ones look nice.

 

What gear do you use for these? lenses, lighting etc, and are you focussing the lens or adjusting distance.

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Canon EOS1D Mark IIn, Canon 430ex flash (mounted on hotshoe cos I'm lazy), sto-fen diffuser for flash (cos I'm too tight to pay for a Lumiquest) and a Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX APO macro lens. I do have a flash bracket, and a Canon Offshoe adaptor #2, but most days I'm too lazy to drag them out. I also have a home made diffuser too (made from Coca Cola cans I kid you not) but again, I'm simply too lazy to use them on a regular basis. The lighting is a bit "hot" sometimes, but I can live with it.

 

As to technique - like most serious macro imagers, AF is a big no-no. Manual focus, usually setting the magnification on the lens first, and then the good 'ole fashioned racking back and forth focus technique. It takes a *lot* of practice but you do get used to it. A steady hand, good eye, controlled breathing, good footwork all can help get a sharper shot. For a newbie, I'd recommend a smaller and lighter lens than the Sigma 150mm, something like a Canon 100mm or Sigma 105mm. And be prepared to practice a LOT.

 

Dave

 

Incredible shots. The fly ones look nice.

 

What gear do you use for these? lenses, lighting etc, and are you focussing the lens or adjusting distance.

 

I forgot to mention that I hope to upgrade to a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV eventually, so I can get rid of flash altogether hopefully (that's the plan). If ISO 6400 is pretty clean, it's do-able. I'll probably downgrade to a Canon 100mm lens, not because of optic quality or anything, but for the weather sealing.

 

Dave

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Thanks for the info. Macro is something where the results have always interested me, but I've never gotten around to giving it a serious attempt. I have tried close-up filters on a kit zoom and a set of extension tubes on a 50mm, but never bought a macro lens. In both cases, I was struggling with the focus and didn't have sufficient support control. Lighting was also a problem. It all combined to be unsuitable for live subject macro, which is what interests me more than close-ups of coins etc.

 

I probably also didn't practice anywhere near enough. I think while I'm generally not a NY resolution type person, more going out and taking photographs might be mine for 2010, because a couple of big holidays aside, I think I've spent more time selecting and shoping for gear than taking photographs this year.

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Great shots is the 2nd shot of the spider a crop of the same shot?

 

Really like the Dragon Fly. I tried for about an hour to try and get a shot Dragon Fly mid flight a few weeks ago, i didnt get one shot of one.

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Yes, it's a 100% crop, to show the wasp parasite in action. Wasps are very clever - they don't kill the spider, but they will paralyse it and place the wasp baby in a part where the spider cannot gain access to it and dislodge it. From there, the parasite will feed off the spider until it kills it.

 

The shot you're referring to isn't a Dragonfly btw, it's a Ichneumon wasp. They're reasonably sized, and not particularly aggressive at all.

 

Glad you enjoyed the images. I have a lot more from this session, was a great 5 hours worth of shooting! 6am start, finished up around 11.30am. I'll probably post a few more images over the coming week or 2 as I work my way through processing them.

 

Great shots is the 2nd shot of the spider a crop of the same shot?

 

Really like the Dragon Fly. I tried for about an hour to try and get a shot Dragon Fly mid flight a few weeks ago, i didnt get one shot of one.

 

No problem at all. Macro takes a lot of practice, which is where digital makes it so much better imho. You can see the sharpness straight away, the lighting, the exposure, the composition. It's vastly cheaper than film too. These days I could shoot film and not waste too much money from non keepers, since I seem to have a 70% success ratio with my shots, but that's from *years* of practice. I've probably taken 35k shots plus in the field. Extension tubes on the nifty fifty are good, but not very flexible. A true macro lens just makes it more easier imho. I'm not sure what brand you use, but the Sigma 105mm is very sharp, good contrast, good build quality and reliability and the price is good too. Keep the tubes, you can use them in conjunction with the macro lens. You don't need an offshoe adaptor, or flash bracket or super expensive flash diffuser either. I use a sto-fen on my 430ex, wihch is mounted on the hotshoe. I know I could get better lighting with my flash bracket and offshoe adaptor (yes, I do have them) and one day I'll buy a better diffuser (I'm too lazy & tight at the moment rofl).

 

Macro is part technology, and part science. Learning about the insects and arachnids is, imho, a necessity. If you have have the time, I have a tips section on my website, www.macro-images.com - a fair bit of reading, but I believe it'll help you become a better macro imager imho.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

 

PS if you're in the Brissie area, I can let you know when the next BIMBO meet up will be (Brisbane IceInSpace Macro Boys Outing)

 

Thanks for the info. Macro is something where the results have always interested me, but I've never gotten around to giving it a serious attempt. I have tried close-up filters on a kit zoom and a set of extension tubes on a 50mm, but never bought a macro lens. In both cases, I was struggling with the focus and didn't have sufficient support control. Lighting was also a problem. It all combined to be unsuitable for live subject macro, which is what interests me more than close-ups of coins etc.

 

I probably also didn't practice anywhere near enough. I think while I'm generally not a NY resolution type person, more going out and taking photographs might be mine for 2010, because a couple of big holidays aside, I think I've spent more time selecting and shoping for gear than taking photographs this year.

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Haha thats the one thing that will get to me, when i eventualy get into macro, i love the look of insects but i have no idea on there names.

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Haha thats the one thing that will get to me, when i eventualy get into macro, i love the look of insects but i have no idea on there names.

hehehe. Merry Christmas btw. You get used to knowing your insect/spider. It does take a while, but you do get used to it. The Internet has a tonne of awesome websites to help as well. And you can be a geek like me and buy lots of books on Australian insects and arachnids. hehehe.

 

Dave

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Met up with a few fellow Brisbane macro imagers yesterday, had a grand time. Here's some of the shots that I've processed so far.

....

 

Enjoy.

 

Dave

Wow, breath taking. I was just on ebay checking out the average costs of the Ef50mm Macro lens. How ironic that I then see this thread. Maybe I would be looking 150 mm ?

 

Absolutely awesome.

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Michael - just a quick macro lesson so you are armed with knowledge. The FL (focal length) of the macro lens determines the WD (working distance). Working distance, is basically the distance between the front of the lens, and the subject. 50mm macro lenses have a shorter working distance than a longer FL one (100mm or 150mm etc). From memory, the 50mm has a WD of around 10cm, the 100mm around 15cm, and the 150mm around 20cm. Obviously, this helps capture images of insects and arachnids that are a wee bit nervous. The drawside to this is that the longer the FL, the heavier and bulkier the lens as a rule. As a newbie, you will have enough problems learning how to reliably focus on your subject (no AF here, it's all manual focus), you don't want to complicate things by having a heavier lens making it harder for you. From my extensive experience, and others as well, I would recommend looking at the 100mm FL range. The Sigma 105mm is a cracking lens, as is the Canon 100mm. Nikon has excellent equivalents as well. One disadvantage to the Sigma 105mm is that the lens barrel extends as you focus. Most other macro lenses use internal focusing (IF) to avoid this. You haven't mention what camera marque you use, but if it's Canon, I'd really recommend the Canon 100mm macro lens. Yes, it's pricey, but it's very good.

 

Dave

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Michael - just a quick macro lesson so you are armed with knowledge. The FL (focal length) of the macro lens determines the WD (working distance). Working distance, is basically the distance between the front of the lens, and the subject. 50mm macro lenses have a shorter working distance than a longer FL one (100mm or 150mm etc). From memory, the 50mm has a WD of around 10cm, the 100mm around 15cm, and the 150mm around 20cm. Obviously, this helps capture images of insects and arachnids that are a wee bit nervous. The drawside to this is that the longer the FL, the heavier and bulkier the lens as a rule. As a newbie, you will have enough problems learning how to reliably focus on your subject (no AF here, it's all manual focus), you don't want to complicate things by having a heavier lens making it harder for you. From my extensive experience, and others as well, I would recommend looking at the 100mm FL range. The Sigma 105mm is a cracking lens, as is the Canon 100mm. Nikon has excellent equivalents as well. One disadvantage to the Sigma 105mm is that the lens barrel extends as you focus. Most other macro lenses use internal focusing (IF) to avoid this. You haven't mention what camera marque you use, but if it's Canon, I'd really recommend the Canon 100mm macro lens. Yes, it's pricey, but it's very good.

 

Dave

 

Wow, education !!! Thanks. This is really helpful.

 

I have been using Macro extension tubes, so manual focus is something I have been working on :)

 

I have a Canon EOS 10d, 30d and the original 1D. Looks like the 100 mm is the way to go !

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Michael,

 

Without trying to "self advertise" you are most welcome to check my website out - www.macro-images.com. There's a tips section which you may find interesting/helpful. There are a few tutorials (MS Word format, LGPL documents is the licence) for Photoshop and CombineZM that you may find interesting, either now, or down the track (probably the latter).

 

I've shot that many images over the past Six years, it isn't funny. Not all of them good, not all of them average, but there's a vast array of experience that I do have. BTW, I suck at lighting and flash lol. Always have, probably always will. The lighting in my images is a bit harsh and I'm too lazy to fix it. lol, go me!

 

Tubes are good. The good ole "nifty fifty" (50mm) and tubes (Kenko are what I'd recommend) are great value. Not very flexible, but great value. And you'll get a decent grounding in macro, techniques and focusing etc, and should be able to determine if you like it or not. If you do, then you can always take the next step and get a dedicated macro lens, which is what you're sounding like you want to do. Be warned though - macro imaging is addictive. You can also use the tubes with your dedicated macro lens. I shoot strictly hand held. Flash brackets are nice (as well as an offshoe adaptor, go Canon's #3, not the older plastic #2 which is as weak as a wet paper bag), but not strictly necessary. Tripods can be nice, but aren't really needed and will just slow you down in the field imho (unless you're shooting flowers). Monopods can be handy, but I find that I prefer to go au naturale.

 

I have a D60 (daddy to your 10D), and had a original 1D myself, which I sold to part finance the upgrade to the Mark IIn, which I currently use.

 

Where abouts are you? I'm in Brissie.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

 

PS If you have some macro images, I'd be interested in seeing them. I don't always check the Atomic forums, so best to probably EMail them to me - dpastern at ecn dot net dot au.

 

Wow, education !!! Thanks. This is really helpful.

 

I have been using Macro extension tubes, so manual focus is something I have been working on :)

 

I have a Canon EOS 10d, 30d and the original 1D. Looks like the 100 mm is the way to go !

Oh, one other thing, some recommend books:

 

John Shaw's "closeups in nature"

 

John Shaw's "the nature photographer's complete guide to professional field techniques"

 

Jon Cox - "Digital Nature photography closeup" (not as good as John Shaw's books, but worth buying anyways)

 

Paul Zborowski & Ross Storey "A field guide to Insects of Australia"

 

That should do for now. I have a large collection of books on Insects and Arachnids, as well as a CSIRO produced DVD-ROM on Spiders (called "Spiders of Australia"), and the bible of Australian Insects - the CSIRO's 2 volume collection named "Insects of Australia" - not cheap at nearly $400 for the pair! You don't have to go that far, but knowing what you're shooting can help get a shot.

 

Dave

Edited by melkor

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That's a very good effort Michael. I presume the insect was dead? What focal length did you use with the bellows? Bellows generally mean the usage of a tripod, and that means poor ability to move and follow insects and arachnids from my experience. Yes, the images are sharper, but you don't really notice unless you're pixel peeping. And then, it's not a huge difference from my experience. Thus, I prefer handheld macro photography. I'm a bit of a funny one, I prefer 1:1, showing the insect or arachnid in its environment, than ultra closeups (such as with Canon's MPE-65 etc). Sometimes, less is more (I love that saying, especially since I'm a UNIX guy at heart).

 

Dave

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That's a very good effort Michael. I presume the insect was dead? What focal length did you use with the bellows? Bellows generally mean the usage of a tripod, and that means poor ability to move and follow insects and arachnids from my experience. Yes, the images are sharper, but you don't really notice unless you're pixel peeping. And then, it's not a huge difference from my experience. Thus, I prefer handheld macro photography. I'm a bit of a funny one, I prefer 1:1, showing the insect or arachnid in its environment, than ultra closeups (such as with Canon's MPE-65 etc). Sometimes, less is more (I love that saying, especially since I'm a UNIX guy at heart).

 

Dave

Hello,

 

The bellows was wound out to the full 150 mm. Yes, this Christmas beetle was dead. I kept it as I have not seen one in years and I found it ... On Christmas day. How weird is that ?

This was handheld with lots of light. I was going to grab a tripod but I was just playing about.

 

:)

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That's a very good effort for handheld Michael. What focal length was the 18-55mm lens at? The reason why I ask, is so I can deduce the approximate magnification. At 55mm, the magnification would be:

 

150/55

 

so approximately Six times life size. For 18mm, it would be:

 

150/18

 

so approximately Eight times life size. I can't tell what aperture you used, since EXIF has been stripped from the JPEGs (did you use Photoshop's save for web feature?). Save for web will strip EXIF. Better to use save as (if it's an 8 bit image). If you're working with 16 bit tiff files, convert it to 8 bit first - Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel and then you can go File > Save As and select JPEG (it's not available on 16 bit images).

 

One has to be careful at high magnification shots, because diffraction from modern DSLR sensors can (and does) become an issue.

 

Again, you've done very well considering.

 

Dave

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That's a very good effort for handheld Michael. What focal length was the 18-55mm lens at? The reason why I ask, is so I can deduce the approximate magnification. At 55mm, the magnification would be:

 

150/55

 

so approximately Six times life size. For 18mm, it would be:

 

150/18

 

so approximately Eight times life size. I can't tell what aperture you used, since EXIF has been stripped from the JPEGs (did you use Photoshop's save for web feature?). Save for web will strip EXIF. Better to use save as (if it's an 8 bit image). If you're working with 16 bit tiff files, convert it to 8 bit first - Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel and then you can go File > Save As and select JPEG (it's not available on 16 bit images).

 

One has to be careful at high magnification shots, because diffraction from modern DSLR sensors can (and does) become an issue.

 

Again, you've done very well considering.

 

Dave

Hello,

 

I could only get the image in clear enough focus at 55 mm :)

As the camera can't talk to the lens through the bellows, the Exif is blank. I used Auto mode (Manual focus) so the LCD panel also did not indicate apperature. I did this in a hurry. I meant ot return and try Av.

 

Thanks for the comments, it is enough encourgement to at least give this another try,

 

the Bellows were cheap compared, to a new lens :)

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Hey Michael,

 

Even at 55mm, that's still a solid level of magnification. I made a mistake in my other post today, it's nearer 3x magnifications. Hats off to you giving that a go, it's *not* easy. I've done a bit of work at 2x and it's a lot harder than life size, although I do believe that practice does make perfect as the old saying goes. I'm not sure what you're lighting setup is, but I usually shoot Manual mode, 1/200, f11, ISO 400 at 1:1. It will vary of course with higher magnification shots, the type of lighting and if you can move the lighting source forward etc with the longer lens/bellows setup. It's a bit hard for me to recommend settings to you when I haven't use that setup before myself. Canon does odd things with AV mode and flash imho and I generally avoid it, although I know a few good macro imagers that use this technique. I'm too lazy to work out the balancing between natural and flash light.

 

Keep at it, you're doing good.

 

Dave

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Nice pics. I was wondering how close you had to get those... but then you went and answered that. :-) Like a lot of people who own DSLRs, I'd love to get into macro photography, and will probably "would love to get into it" for at least a few years more. I am curious, though, what you think of the usefulness of the "Hybrid" IS that Canon is touting on its new 100mm macro to compensate for camera movement.

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Hey Michael,

 

Even at 55mm, that's still a solid level of magnification. I made a mistake in my other post today, it's nearer 3x magnifications. Hats off to you giving that a go, it's *not* easy. I've done a bit of work at 2x and it's a lot harder than life size, although I do believe that practice does make perfect as the old saying goes. I'm not sure what you're lighting setup is, but I usually shoot Manual mode, 1/200, f11, ISO 400 at 1:1. It will vary of course with higher magnification shots, the type of lighting and if you can move the lighting source forward etc with the longer lens/bellows setup. It's a bit hard for me to recommend settings to you when I haven't use that setup before myself. Canon does odd things with AV mode and flash imho and I generally avoid it, although I know a few good macro imagers that use this technique. I'm too lazy to work out the balancing between natural and flash light.

 

Keep at it, you're doing good.

 

Dave

Thanks Dave, I thought you were out with your figure :)

 

I have a macro ring light that attaches to the end of the lens and also some 600 watt modeling lights on stands. In the end, a torch worked best. Go figure.

 

As the lens/bellows gets so close to the object, it is very hard to illuminate items.

 

 

Just to add to the discussion,

 

Here is one using tubes

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And one using an EFS 18-55mm lens in macro mode (no extensions)

 

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I am also playing with a reverse kit for mounting lenses in reverse to the body. So far ... blury and lacks colour.

 

I have tried a few cheap Macro ideas ... Just do not have a dedicated macro lens yet.

Edited by michael.jenkin

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Nice pics. I was wondering how close you had to get those... but then you went and answered that. :-) Like a lot of people who own DSLRs, I'd love to get into macro photography, and will probably "would love to get into it" for at least a few years more. I am curious, though, what you think of the usefulness of the "Hybrid" IS that Canon is touting on its new 100mm macro to compensate for camera movement.

 

It'll probably be OK for the weather sealing, and it's something that I've been saying Canon needs to do for a long while. As to the IS, I've never really been sold on IS on normal lenses, I doubt very much that it'll do much for macro. The only way to get good @ macro is to practice, practice and thrice practice imho. The same as the guys who do BIFs (Birds in flight) like Artie Morris - practice! It may help a newbie, but I doubt it. Call me a sceptic ;-)

 

You can pick up a Sigma 105mm macro for around AU $400 - IQ is every bit as good as the Canon 100mm imho.

 

Dave

 

Michael, you're doing the right thing - getting out there and taking shots. It's the only way to get better. #1 is pretty good, WB looks good as well. The only CC is that the entire body isn't in the zone of focus. Usually top down images are only good for ID'ing (identifying) said insect/arachnid. Far better is to get down lower at eye level and either a side on shot, or a 3/4 shot from the front, focusing on the head/eyes. I like the preying mantis shot too, a very tiny instar! (instar refers to the various stages of growth of insects before they reach adult stage).

 

Dave

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It'll probably be OK for the weather sealing, and it's something that I've been saying Canon needs to do for a long while. As to the IS, I've never really been sold on IS on normal lenses, I doubt very much that it'll do much for macro. The only way to get good @ macro is to practice, practice and thrice practice imho. The same as the guys who do BIFs (Birds in flight) like Artie Morris - practice! It may help a newbie, but I doubt it. Call me a sceptic ;-)

Cheers, exactly the sort of response I was after.

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Unfortunately as good as it gets for me at the moment.

 

 

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There are some bloody nice photos in this thread from you guys and a few ideas I'm itching to try out. Really looking forward to getting back from our trip later on in the year and being able to spend some money on a decent lens set (no more bloody Tamron lenses!)

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It'll probably be OK for the weather sealing, and it's something that I've been saying Canon needs to do for a long while. As to the IS, I've never really been sold on IS on normal lenses, I doubt very much that it'll do much for macro. The only way to get good @ macro is to practice, practice and thrice practice imho. The same as the guys who do BIFs (Birds in flight) like Artie Morris - practice! It may help a newbie, but I doubt it. Call me a sceptic ;-)

Cheers, exactly the sort of response I was after.

 

Glad I could help :-) If you have macro questions, ask me. I don't mind helping. macro photography is challenging, but it's a very enjoyable thing imho, at least if you enjoy nature. Anyone can do macro imaging, it just takes practice. There's no free lunches in life sadly.

 

Dave

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Unfortunately as good as it gets for me at the moment. There are some bloody nice photos in this thread from you guys and a few ideas I'm itching to try out. Really looking forward to getting back from our trip later on in the year and being able to spend some money on a decent lens set (no more bloody Tamron lenses!)

That's some very good shots Seehund. #1 has good colour and use of repitition and I like the lighting and composition as well. You don't have to be right up and close always for good nature shots. #2 - is that a crop? It's a very good shot, seems very sharp. If it's not a crop, you probably could crop into it I suspect. Lighting is nice too. #3 - you've done what many don't do - gotten down low and used a good angle. Don't worry about the DOF, it's not always possible with closeups. #4 is a very nice shot too - you haven't blown the Reds in this image, it's a subtle shot. DOF could probably be a bit more, but that's a nagging criticism. I like the rain drops as well.

 

I'll mention a piece of free software called combinezm/combinezp (there's a few different versions) - it's designed to do stacking of images, giving you the ability to combine slices so to speak and get a greater DOF than is actually possible:

 

http://www.hadleyweb.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/CZP/News.htm

 

It's pretty easy to use too, and best of all reliable, and free. If you get stuck, there's a tutorial on my website (www.macro-images.com). You're most welcome to download it etc.

 

Dave

 

 

As an example, this shot from my website is from 5 slices, stitched together in CombineZM:

 

Posted Image

 

Now this grasshopper was probably nearing a CM in body length. At 1:1, DOF is around 4mm or so, so by taking 5 slices at differing focal points and then combining them in CombineZM I was able to get the whole grasshopper in focus sharply.

 

Dave

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