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melkor

A collection of macro images from yesterday

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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

That is some funky software, thanks for the links.

 

The grasshopper looks awesome.

Edited by Antraman

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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.

 

 

Thanks very much for the feedback there :D

 

#1 got a fair bit of sharpening in PS but the colours are pretty much as taken.

 

#2 is a crop but I didn't want to get much further in as I'd applied some sharpening in PS (again) and it was beginning to pixellate on zoom.

 

#3 was just plain fun. My partner and I spent a very cold and soggy morning at Port Melbourne getting down low on the beach for this sort of shot. I'm a firm believer in getting dirty if you have to for a good image. After spending a lot of time on a farm and in the Navy you learn to stop worrying about a bit of dirt and water...I think that's rubbed off on her too after finding her laying down on the paving in the backyard yesterday with the camera.

 

#4 was taken with the Lumix FZ30 before I sold it. A really nice ultrazoom that sadly took sharper shots than the 50D I'm using now (albiet with the crap Tamron glass on it).

 

I'll check out that software you recommended. I can definitely see myself spending a lot more effort on macro now :D

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Before you dismiss IS for macro, go read some reviews of the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro.

 

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthrea...5#post366614179

 

I agree that it's silly to have IS on your bog standard 18-55 kit lens, but it's a blessing past around 200mm, especially on kit teles that only get f/5.6 at the long end.

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That is some funky software, thanks for the links.

 

The grasshopper looks awesome.

Thanks! It's pretty cool software, and best of all, it's FREE! Bonus! And, as I said earlier, it's easy to use and delivers pretty cool shots. Avoid field rotation, and watch out for artificats after combining the slices (it's not unusual to see an extra leg on a Fly, etc lol). Most times, things are pretty good, and when things go a bit awry, it's usually your own fault lol. Oh, and the clone tool/spot heal tool in Photoshop is a Godsend (I vary between both tools, depending on the image).

 

Thanks very much for the feedback there :D

 

#1 got a fair bit of sharpening in PS but the colours are pretty much as taken.

 

#2 is a crop but I didn't want to get much further in as I'd applied some sharpening in PS (again) and it was beginning to pixellate on zoom.

 

#3 was just plain fun. My partner and I spent a very cold and soggy morning at Port Melbourne getting down low on the beach for this sort of shot. I'm a firm believer in getting dirty if you have to for a good image. After spending a lot of time on a farm and in the Navy you learn to stop worrying about a bit of dirt and water...I think that's rubbed off on her too after finding her laying down on the paving in the backyard yesterday with the camera.

 

#4 was taken with the Lumix FZ30 before I sold it. A really nice ultrazoom that sadly took sharper shots than the 50D I'm using now (albiet with the crap Tamron glass on it).

 

I'll check out that software you recommended. I can definitely see myself spending a lot more effort on macro now :D

You're very welcome. I was lucky to get a lot of advice from Brian Valentine (aka LordV, google the name!) when I was starting out, as well as a few others who influenced me both on a technical and artistic level. I'd be doing them a disservice by not helping others.

 

#1 doesn't look oversharpened. How much sharpening are we talking about?

#2 looks good for a crop. Do you shoot RAW? Or JPEG? Golden rule (imho) - shoot RAW, conver to 16 bit tiff, work on the tiff in photoshop and as a last resort, convert to JPEG. Oh, and use Adobe RGB as your colourspace. I also find having a colour profiled monitor necessary (I use a cheapish Huey Pro, it does the job OK). If working in Adobe RGB, remember to convert to sRGB for web images, etc, otherwise colours will be slightly out. Oh, and a good monitor, preferably m-pva or s-ips rather than tn panel is better. It's why I paid nearly $900 for my Samsung 245T monitor when other 24" monitors were half the price.

#3 And that's what a hobby should be. Fun. I've been known to get down dirty. For some insects like Dragonflies, Damselflies, etc, it's almost mandatory. I've taken shots of Flies on you know what just to get a shot of an unusual fly that I haven't seen before. And let's just say that you know what at 1:1 distances doesn't smell good lol.

#4 Don't knock digital compacts (not that I'm saying you were, just making a general statement lol)! I've seen some top notch quality images taken with them. In some technical ways, digital compacts are better for macro imaging (smaller circle of confusion, better depth of field due to smaller sensor). Raynox clip on lenses are awesome as well. Brilliant IQ, but not cheap. I'm not impressed with Canon's latest offerings. IMHO, Canon has it all wrong and is focusing (pun intended) on megapixels instead of IQ like Nikon. If I didn't have near 20k worth of Canon gear, I'd be moving to a D3s in a heartbeat as it does what I want from a camera. Sadly, I can't justify a move to Nikon...not financially at least. DR and noise are suffering in Canon's latest offerings and it's pretty obvious. On a side note - avoid too much stopping down, you'll get greater DOF at the expense of diffraction (loss of resolution) issues. Newer cameras are more prone to this imho. My Mark IIn has 8 micron pixels, and a sweet spot of around f10 for diffraction issues being avoided. Smaller pixels are more limiting from my experience. That said, most diffraction issues aren't readily noticeable unless you're pixel peeping or heavily cropping into an image.

 

I'm sure I can see more people spending money on macro gear. It's a fun hobby. I also recommend learning about the Insects & Arachnids - it's both fascinating and your imaging will improve. My lateral eyesight has improved a lot, as has my eyes ability to detect movement from tiny things in crowded places. I've had several friends with me who are gobsmacked by how much I notice. Being pagan, I tend to value all life too. So, nature, and in particular, macro photography blend in with my theological, philosophical and religious beliefs. Bonus.

 

Before you dismiss IS for macro, go read some reviews of the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro.

 

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthrea...5#post366614179

 

I agree that it's silly to have IS on your bog standard 18-55 kit lens, but it's a blessing past around 200mm, especially on kit teles that only get f/5.6 at the long end.

I'm still not convinced. I've shot probably close to 35-40k macro shots over the past 5 or so years. Experience tells me that IS doesn't work, and doesn't work well. There's no substitute for a good technical ability on holding the camera, the lens properly, proper shutter speeds, stance and breathing. Do you see shooting marksmen using IS? No. They train their bodies to become better. I reckon #1 shot in that link isn't that sharp, at least not to my eyes. And, I probably could shoot just as good as that with the 100mm at 1/15 without IS myself. AF isn't really an issue with macro lenses imho - you simply don't use AF for macro. I know of very very very few that do use AF. True, macro lenses are great for portraiture, and AF does come into play here, although AF doesn't need to be super fast for that style of photography. This reviewer's issues are due to not being able to push ISO. If Canon was following Nikon's lead, high ISO wouldn't be an issue. ISO 6400 on the D3s looks *clean*. The Mark IV, which I'll get eventually, is at least a stop behind imho. I hope to abandon flash altogether when I get the Mark IV (ISO 3200, f8, 1/150 or thereabouts). Will wait and see.

 

I do agree that on long tele lenses, IS is handy, although I rarely use it on my 300mm f4 IS for birding and sports shots.

 

Dave

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blah blah IS is useless blah blah

Naturally it will never substitute for skill and experience, and IS can never compensate for a moving subject, but it would prove useful if you're trying to shoot handheld in awkward positions, where a tripod isn't practical and you can't lean on something. Just saying it has its uses, and it's not really fair to scoff at it.

 

Of course, if one were serious about macro, one would own an MP-E 65mm f/2.8 and an MT-24EX.

 

5:1 Oh yes. *dreams*

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One doesn't have to own a MPE-65 and MT-24EX to be "serious" about macro imaging. And shooting at 5:1 is not easy. I can handle up to 2:1, but higher magnifications would take some getting used to over an extended period of time.

 

As an aside, I prefer to show the Insect/Arachnid in its environment, something which high magnification shots such as those with the MPE do not allow. That's just my personal shooting style. Ultra closeups are OK, but not my cuppa tea so to speak.

 

Dave

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One doesn't have to own a MPE-65 and MT-24EX to be "serious" about macro imaging. And shooting at 5:1 is not easy. I can handle up to 2:1, but higher magnifications would take some getting used to over an extended period of time.

 

As an aside, I prefer to show the Insect/Arachnid in its environment, something which high magnification shots such as those with the MPE do not allow. That's just my personal shooting style. Ultra closeups are OK, but not my cuppa tea so to speak.

 

Dave

Naturally people will differ. I like stuff like this:

 

Posted Image

Obligatory Flickr Link

 

On a side note, wow, fredmiranda.com has some douchebag posters!

Edited by SquallStrife

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I don't spend a lot of time on FM, I go through bouts of posting/viewing their forums. I'm banned from POTN due to differences of opinions with Pekka (owner) and a few senior mods and my refusal to bow and lick their feet. As an aside, there's far too many blind Canon lovers on POTN, and trying to have a sane conversation with them is pretty much impossible imho. There are other things I can say about POTN but I won't say them publically here. Anyways, with that bitter taste out of my mouth (and good riddance I might add), I'll comment on your image - that's a very nice closeup, well done. Good DOF too. Lighting seems a bit harsh, but I'm the last person to criticise on lighting lol, since I suck using flash. I'll eventually get a MPE-65, mostly for those smaller flies and wasps, etc.

 

Remember that macro photography to me is not only the technical aspect, but the pure enjoyment of being close® to nature. Sometimes I don't even take a shot, but simply watch in enjoyment.

 

Dave

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I didn't take that, maybe I should have been more clear on that. I was just sayin that I like that kind of image.

 

Heck, I'd like a close-up of one of those eye elements. Microscopics turn me on.

 

I only WISH I could get that close. :)

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Glad I could help. Photography is a fun hobby (well, it should be) and asking questions is a great way to learn.

 

A bit more info - I use a sto-fen diffuser on my 430ex flash, and I mount the flash on the camera's hotshoe. I usually set the camera (Mark IIn) to 1/200, ISO 400, f11. I adjust FEC (flash exposure compensation) on the fly. I rarely touch shutter speed/aperture/iso to be honest, at least with macro shots. It's a simple setup, although a bit heavy. A 2nd hand 350D with the same flash will grab excellent macro shots - you don't need a super camera or very expensive lens. A good compact with a Raynox lens can also work wonders, once you learn how to use it effectively, etc. Nothing is better than practical experience. Who cares if your first shots are crap? I should find some of my earliest shots and post them up here for a good laugh.

 

Dave

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Here's one more image from the same day as the other lot. I'll probably work on a few more over the next few days.

 

Posted Image

 

Dave

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I've got more out of this thread than any other on this forum in years.

 

Thanks melkor.

I second this. This has been awesome.

 

Thanks melkor.

 

Posted Image

This is about 1 mm accross

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos/4296692429/

Posted Image

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos/4296696793/

Edited by michael.jenkin

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Good shots Michael. CC:

 

#1 - a bit "soft" on the main item of focus (the ball). DOF is OK. slight colour cast. Composition works for me.

 

#2 - That is *really* intersting. I have no idea what it is. DOF and focus is OK, since I think you were doing a bit of an abstract shot with this (that was your intention I presume). Composition works for me too. Lighting is nice, slight Green cast, but I think that it's only slight, and ADDS to the feel of the image. What is it btw? I like the pattern.

 

I had a quickish look at your flickr set, I quite like this shot:

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos...57613421035566/

 

I really like this shot as well:

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos...57613421035566/

 

Dave

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#1 - a bit "soft" on the main item of focus (the ball). DOF is OK. slight colour cast. Composition works for me.

This was a hard one. No Tripod, 100mm on the bellows and 55 mm on the EF 18-55 lens. The item was about 2 meters up on a gutter. I climbed a ladder, waited until I was still enough and snapped the shot.

Very hard to focus by hand. I moved the camera in and out until I was happy. Almost lost my balance :)

 

 

#2 - That is *really* intersting. I have no idea what it is. DOF and focus is OK, since I think you were doing a bit of an abstract shot with this (that was your intention I presume). Composition works for me too. Lighting is nice, slight Green cast, but I think that it's only slight, and ADDS to the feel of the image. What is it btw? I like the pattern.

This is a seed. One of those ones with thousands of hairs on it, to capture the wind and blow it around.It was stuck in a spider web. Again, hand held, tried my best to compose and then shoot.

 

I had a quickish look at your flickr set, I quite like this shot:

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos...57613421035566/

This was one of my first macros using extension tubes. My daughter had put some seeds into some cotton wool to to see if they would grow. I personally love the Bokeh.

 

 

I really like this shot as well:

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos...57613421035566/

 

Dave

 

I was so hoping that this might be a finalist for the Photo5. It tooks heaps of effort and followed the breif. Oh well .... every photo is one more to learn from :)

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I'm not so much a fan of competitions. I remember Canon doing competitions a few years back. I entered a few of my images and didn't get a look in in any of the weekly competitions. Watching the images that they picked as winners was horrific. Some truly horrible shots - poor exposure, poor composition, lack of sharpness, you name it. How they got to be weekly winners I do not know. 99.9999999% of the "winners" were people or landscape shots. I guess Canon was only interested in those photographic styles and anything else was too specialist for their liking. After that BS, I refuse to enter into competitions held by companies.

 

I also had a few shots that I had peers saying I should entered into NG (National Geographic)'s reader entries. After looking at the TOCs (terms and conditions), I decided against doing so. I *refuse* to give away the rights to my images to these large corporations that can afford to pay image rights. You cannot negotiate contract terms with them either. I'd rather not touch those sorts of things with a 120 parsec barge pole if you get my drift.

 

I have allowed both a Canberra based birding website to use one of my shots (Grey Goshawk), and also a NSW department of wildlife department (also Grey Goshawk) as a brochure for kids in the environment. Both were community based organisations that I was happy to allow image usage to. No funny usage contracts, etc.

 

I've recently joined a local photographic society, I've only had the chance to enter in one of their competitions, but did well in one of my images (merit), and got acceptances in 2 of the others. There's still some favouritism it seems (towards other genres than macro), and there's still the personal preferences to deal with (from judges). My merit shot was worthy of an honour, at least by judging from the previous 3 months competitions, but was marked down from the top grade honour to a merit because the judge felt that there wasn't enough DOF. A large Robberfly is *never* going to allow you the full DOF from head to tail that he wanted, not unless you use something like CombineZM. No photographer in the world could get the whole insect sharply in focus, it's just not possible due to the laws of physics. Trying to explain that to them was a losing mission...gotta love a judge judging you when they know jack **** about the photographical genre, which he freely admitted.

 

Dave

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I like it. That's a neat shot. Good exposure and WB too (not easy to do with an all Black object). I did something similar with my old Nokia phone a few years ago but not quite as close up.

 

Dave

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That's quite often the case with tricky lighting and WB situations. I tend not to trust my camera's WB meter.

 

Dave

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I'm not so much a fan of competitions. I remember Canon doing competitions a few years back. I entered a few of my images and didn't get a look in in any of the weekly competitions. Watching the images that they picked as winners was horrific. Some truly horrible shots - poor exposure, poor composition, lack of sharpness, you name it. How they got to be weekly ...

 

Dave

Funny, after last years Canon Photo5, I now fully agree with you. I could not believe some of the finalists. They did not even follow the briefs. The final winners were acceptable however the whole process seemed wrong .. to get to that point.

 

I just take photos to make myself happy and learn something new. That is now what I am concentrating on. I have allowed some of my San Francisco pictures to be used on the San Fran Tourist map and I have had some in the local media but that is is where it ends :)

 

I had to do a bit of editing to get it looking right. The neither the lighting nor focus was how I liked it.

Looks good to me. Extension tubes are hard to use and you have done well. I have used them quite a few times however recently I have fallen in love with my bellows.

 

Naturally people will differ. I like stuff like this:

 

Posted Image

Obligatory Flickr Link

 

On a side note, wow, fredmiranda.com has some douchebag posters!

How can people get this close and not have the object fly away ?

 

Are they standing well back, with a super magnification or 1 cm away with a dead bug ?

 

I tried to do something like this today and the bugs kept moving (Which is in their nature)

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Naturally people will differ. I like stuff like this:

 

Posted Image

Obligatory Flickr Link

 

On a side note, wow, fredmiranda.com has some douchebag posters!

How can people get this close and not have the object fly away ?

 

Are they standing well back, with a super magnification or 1 cm away with a dead bug ?

 

I tried to do something like this today and the bugs kept moving (Which is in their nature)

 

What you don't see in this pic, and what is standard practice in macro photography of live subjects, is his legs, out of frame, have been blue-tacked to the petals....takes ages to set up...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8-)

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What you don't see in this pic, and what is standard practice in macro photography of live subjects, is his legs, out of frame, have been blue-tacked to the petals....takes ages to set up...

 

 

8-)

I was thinking super glue or spray it with a clear coat of varnish :)

 

(........ Starting to sound a little cruel... my mind is bringing up all kinds of weird ways to do this.)

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What you don't see in this pic, and what is standard practice in macro photography of live subjects, is his legs, out of frame, have been blue-tacked to the petals....takes ages to set up...

 

 

8-)

I was thinking super glue or spray it with a clear coat of varnish :)

 

(........ Starting to sound a little cruel... my mind is bringing up all kinds of weird ways to do this.)

 

heh...seriously man, the things some photographers do to get the shot.....

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