Up close and personal with Hover Flies

Every 30 days the site administrators will pick a favorite macro or close-up image from one of the "Macro and Close-up" galleries to be featured on the front page of the www.photomacrography.net website.

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sonyalpha
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Up close and personal with Hover Flies

Post by sonyalpha »

Image

Image

Image

Image

My local hover-flies were very obliging today.........it could be that they were satiated with lots of good pollen from a newly opened Passion Flower, none seemed keen to move or fly very far even when touched:

They are one of my favourite insect species:


sonyalpha
Retired but not old in spirit:

Fairly new to photography........keen to learn:

scitch
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Post by scitch »

Wow! Can you discuss the equipment and techniques used here? Camera, lens, stacking, tripod, lighting, diffusion, etc.

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

Hey! Your getting pretty good there SA, soon you will be giving some of the other members a run for their money! :smt023

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Nice set, I particularly like the comp and background of the first shot...

pbertner
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Post by pbertner »

Nice shots SA, your best so far. Great detail and lighting looks good. In the second pic I find the vertical blue lines of the passionflower distracting. It could be that they are too in focus or maybe that the colours are too harsh in juxtaposition to the softer whites and yellows of the fly. Might try experimenting by toning down the blue channel luminance/saturation.
Cheers,
Paul

DQE
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Post by DQE »

Interesting lighting and composition, and the background is enjoyable, too!
-Phil

"Diffraction never sleeps"

sonyalpha
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Post by sonyalpha »

scitch wrote:Wow! Can you discuss the equipment and techniques used here? Camera, lens, stacking, tripod, lighting, diffusion, etc.

Thank you one and all ...............I much appreciate all the kind comments that this set has generated.................I get so much pleasure from my macro photography.............my improving images are as a direct result of the help and advice I have gained through this excellent forum:


Here you go:

My macro set up is:

One Sony Alpha 300 camera, fitted with a Sony 2.8-100 Macro lens on all three extension tubes............the flash has a home-made plastic container and foil flash diffuser which softens the flash to prevent burnt out highlights or over harsh lighting...........the flash level is set to suit ambient lighting conditions:

These are all, hand-held single shots with no stacking......the post camera processing consisted of cleaning up then cropping the image............I then upped the saturation and edge sharpened in my photo software:

my set up photographs......note ...there are no extension rings fitted in these pics....there is now extra opaque plastic over the foil reflector...I just wrapped a plastic folder around held on with an elastic band:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/u ... ORUM_2.jpg

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/u ... ORUM_1.jpg

sonyalpha
Retired but not old in spirit:

Fairly new to photography........keen to learn:

scitch
Posts: 463
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 12:35 am

Post by scitch »

Thanks! I went out today and took a few hundred shots of hover flies and didn't get one that I'm happy with. Most had their heads buried in the flowers and just wouldn't pose for me or stand still for a moment. Ended up with some good spider pics, though and I have a hover fly in the freezer for later.


Mike

Roy Patience
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Post by Roy Patience »

Sonyalpha,

These are great! Nice combination of that Passionflower and the hover-fly. I especially like the composition of the second one.

Roy

sonyalpha
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Post by sonyalpha »

Roy Patience wrote:Sonyalpha,

These are great! Nice combination of that Passionflower and the hover-fly. I especially like the composition of the second one.

Roy
Thank you Roy.....I am learning how to manoeuvre so that the background chosen suits the subject.................it isn't always easy or practicable though:

sonyalpha
Retired but not old in spirit:

Fairly new to photography........keen to learn:

daveteauk
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Post by daveteauk »

sonyalpha wrote:
scitch wrote:Wow! Can you discuss the equipment and techniques used here? Camera, lens, stacking, tripod, lighting, diffusion, etc.

Thank you one and all ...............I much appreciate all the kind comments that this set has generated.................I get so much pleasure from my macro photography.............my improving images are as a direct result of the help and advice I have gained through this excellent forum:


Here you go:

My macro set up is:

One Sony Alpha 300 camera, fitted with a Sony 2.8-100 Macro lens on all three extension tubes............the flash has a home-made plastic container and foil flash diffuser which softens the flash to prevent burnt out highlights or over harsh lighting...........the flash level is set to suit ambient lighting conditions:

These are all, hand-held single shots with no stacking......the post camera processing consisted of cleaning up then cropping the image............I then upped the saturation and edge sharpened in my photo software:

my set up photographs......note ...there are no extension rings fitted in these pics....there is now extra opaque plastic over the foil reflector...I just wrapped a plastic folder around held on with an elastic band:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/u ... ORUM_2.jpg

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/u ... ORUM_1.jpg

sonyalpha
Hi Sonyalpha, These shots are fantastic. I wonder if you could give us an insight as to your technique to getting such sharp shots with amazing DoF without a tripod or focus stacking. Thanks
Daveteauk

sonyalpha
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Post by sonyalpha »

Hi Sonyalpha, These shots are fantastic. I wonder if you could give us an insight as to your technique to getting such sharp shots with amazing DoF without a tripod or focus stacking. Thanks
_________________
Daveteauk


Hi Dave,

Many thanks for your query:

My technique is very simple................With the 2.8-100 Macro lens and all three extension rings fitted.....I simply focus by rocking extremely slowly back and forth....then.......hopefully.......clicking the shutter at the right moment:

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't..........but perseverance and practice help..for every good shot there will be a goodly number of failures.............that is the beauty of digital photography:

I would find hauling a tri-pod around then setting it up very inhibiting ......the insect will have gone by the time you are set:

I am sure this is the method used by fellow member LordV................see his articles on Macro photography:

Oh!.....I forgot to mention....that I am over 72yrs old and extremely short sighted............just had new specs from.....Specsaver's though:

Let us see examples of your macro shots soon:

sonyalpha
Retired but not old in spirit:

Fairly new to photography........keen to learn:

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Daveteauk, welcome aboard! :)

Let me add a bit of technical analysis to complement sonyalpha's explanation...

EXIF information for the image that shows on our front page (image #2 above) indicates that it was shot at a setting of f/14.0. Considering the effects of close-focusing and added extension, the effective aperture was probably closer to f/32. Sensor size on the Sony DSLR-A300 is 23.6 x 15.8 mm, so effective f/32 on the Sony is equivalent to around effective f/48 in terms of traditional 35 mm photography.

I assume you're familiar with the tradeoff between diffraction and DOF -- stopping down increases DOF but makes the image less sharp.

What sonyalpha has done here is to set his camera at very near the optimal balance for images to be displayed at web resolution. A closer crop (pixel-peeping) would undoubtedly show blurring from diffraction. But it is sharp at the image size shown here, and it has maximum DOF at that sharpness.

The image is further improved by excellent placement of what limited DOF is available. Due to alignment of the fly, the plane of sharpest focus passes very near to all of the front-side legs, the eye of the fly, and much of the leading edge of the foreground wing. A lot of the surface of the flower is also kissed by the focus plane. As a result, there is sharp detail to see at many places where the viewer's eye naturally wants to go. Due to the limited DOF, most of the abdomen of the fly is out of focus. Even the mouthparts are not as sharp as they would be if focus were placed on them. But if the mouthparts were sharp, the eye would not be, and the result would be less pleasing.

What this image illustrates is near perfect application of a classic technique updated for digital: stop down as far as you can without getting too much diffraction blur, compose to take best advantage of what DOF there is, and sharpen to make evident all the detail that the lens did capture, compensating for contrast loss caused by diffraction blurring.

It's a very nice piece of work. It's also a tribute to sonyalpha's diligent efforts at improving skills through practice. His early shots were, um, not quite this good! :wink:

--Rik

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