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My first posting here - Bee on flower
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:18 pm    Post subject: My first posting here - Bee on flower Reply with quote

I am a newbie at this. This was shot this morning at the community park entrance flower garden, at Parksville, British Columbia, Canada.

I cropped it myself (focus is much more important than initial composition when the critter keeps moving!), and then my friend, a pro landscape photographer familiar with Adobe Photoshop, enhanced it a bit for me (I haven't learned yet how to use Affinity). Here it is resized severely to upload:





This was taken with a Canon 70D with Canon 100mm Macro, and 68mm of Kenko extension tubes, with a working distance of about 4-1/2 inches. Aperture priority mode, 1/125th second (to minimize camera movement blur), f13 (to maximize depth of field), ISO 4000 (I let this float as shutter speed and DOF were far more important).

There was sufficient morning sun at a still low angle to light up the scene without macro flash (which I don't yet have!). I preset the lens magnification and focused as best I could by rocking my body slightly. I hoped the bee would not mind a "big eye" 4-1/2" from him as he worked . . .

Jim G Very Happy
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leonardturner



Joined: 14 Mar 2013
Posts: 314
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to a hobby that can be expensive (or not so much) and very time consuming! Your nice image would have been easier to come by with a non-living subject; you might want to practice lighting with diffusion to control the highlights, and to shoot for the eyes, as your depth of field is limited without stacking and interest lies in the subject's eyes--
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

leonardturner wrote:
Welcome to a hobby that can be expensive (or not so much) and very time consuming! Your nice image would have been easier to come by with a non-living subject; you might want to practice lighting with diffusion to control the highlights, and to shoot for the eyes, as your depth of field is limited without stacking and interest lies in the subject's eyes--


Yes, I realize that a dead subject would be easier, but I've taken on the challenge of working with live subjects who are in their natural environment and doing what they normally do at the speed they do it. For ants though, who move at lightning speed, and virtually all the time, I may resort to baiting them with something sweet so that I have at ;east a chance of catching them standing still!

I don't have a YONGNUO YN24EX E-TTL Macro Flash yet, so lighting has to be natural for now (built-in flash gives horrid results), and with the short time that bees are actually not moving, I am lucky to get the shot focused at all, let alone on the eye! More practice needed . . . Very Happy

As for expense, it's really just the initial equipment expense that hurts. There are no ongoing "supplies, fuel, or admission fees", and no film and development costs like there were just 17 years ago! Plus, I have bought most of the equipment I have used, not new. That makes this hobby actually "inexpesnive" compared to other hobbies I have or have had (modifying cars for more performance, shooting, ammunition reloading, motorcycling, model cars, . . . )

And, there are so many different, satisfying dimensions to it!

Jim G
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18235
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Results from built-in flash do not have to be horrid. The key thing is that you have to add diffusion, so the light strikes the subject from many directions like on a foggy day, instead of from a single direction like in bright sun. This is accomplished by using a large sheet of translucent material, placed near the subject and far away from the flash.

Google on orionmystery concave diffuser to find much discussion.

Note that most of the setups shown in those discussions are using the large diffuser even with dual-head separate flashes.

But similar approaches can also work with built-in flash. One of my own particularly informal setups is shown at http://janrik.net/MiscSubj/2011/Reversed18-55mm20111122/Setup2.jpg, with results shown at http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15236 . That was focus-stacked with a non-moving subject, but the lighting doesn't care. A more polished version of the same idea is shown at http://orionmystery.blogspot.com/2011/03/macro-diffuser.html .

--Rik
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
Results from built-in flash do not have to be horrid. The key thing is that you have to add diffusion, so the light strikes the subject from many directions like on a foggy day, instead of from a single direction like in bright sun. This is accomplished by using a large sheet of translucent material, placed near the subject and far away from the flash.

Google on orionmystery concave diffuser to find much discussion.

Note that most of the setups shown in those discussions are using the large diffuser even with dual-head separate flashes.

But similar approaches can also work with built-in flash. One of my own particularly informal setups is shown at http://janrik.net/MiscSubj/2011/Reversed18-55mm20111122/Setup2.jpg, with results shown at http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15236 . That was focus-stacked with a non-moving subject, but the lighting doesn't care. A more polished version of the same idea is shown at http://orionmystery.blogspot.com/2011/03/macro-diffuser.html .

--Rik


Thank-you, Rik! Those references make for interesting reading! I am especially impressed by the apparent effectiveness of a kleenex tissue held in front of a built-in flash!

Jim G
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kleenex tissue and other papers make quite good diffusers, from the standpoint of spreading the light. I use Kleenex a lot in bench setups. It has the significant disadvantage of being physically fragile, so it's not very useful in the field. Other stiffer papers and translucent plastics are a better compromise for that sort of use. Thin foam packing sheets with small cells are good material to try, though often they do not diffuse the light nearly as well as paper.

A good test for diffusion is to go outside on a sunny day, hold up a piece of the material, position your eye in the shadow, and see how uniformly lit the material appears to be. With a really good diffuser, like copy paper, the whole diffuser will appear to be equally bright, completely hiding the location of the sun behind it. With less good diffusers, like most packing foams, you will have no doubt where the sun is, even though it will be spread out quite a bit.

Exercise caution when running this test. With diffusion material that is not very good, the image of the sun will remain concentrated enough to cause afterimages if you look at it for more than a brief period. And if you set up a camera to record the results, use a lens cap to block the sun whenever the diffuser is not in place.

--Rik
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik, I'll do some experimenting with different potential diffuser materials and molding / stiffening methods. Ideally applying some sort of non-penetrating adhesive to just the OUTER side of the diffuser material, only in the area where it will need to mold around the flash head or lens body, and then molding that diffuser to the flash or lens body, would create a stiff, reusable diffuser without the ugly taping I see so often that makes a costly camera and lens look trashy!

Jim G
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Harald



Joined: 13 May 2011
Posts: 393
Location: Steinberg, Norway

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there Jim,
Uusualy I don´t do macro of insects in the midle of the day. They are far to active and light is harsh.
I go out before the sun come up, thats when the insects are cold and often with a lot of drops on. They don´t move to much and you have time to focus and make a good composition. There is time to use tripod and live view. Also recommend using a cable release...
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harald wrote:
Hi there Jim,
Uusualy I don´t do macro of insects in the midle of the day. They are far to active and light is harsh.
I go out before the sun come up, thats when the insects are cold and often with a lot of drops on. They don´t move to much and you have time to focus and make a good composition. There is time to use tripod and live view. Also recommend using a cable release...


That early in the morning, the insects are not moving yet. How do you find them? (I normally find them by noticing movement!)

Where do:
- Bees
- Butterflies
- Moths
- Ants
- Beetles
- Spiders

Hang out before they start moving?

Yesterday wehn I took that photo of the bee, it wasmid morning and still cold (I needed a jacket), and that ONE bee and ONE wasp were the only critters moving about that I could see!

Jim G
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Harald



Joined: 13 May 2011
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Location: Steinberg, Norway

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I´ve learned that around the edge of crop fields. In some swampy areas, wetlands and of course in the flower fields. Maybe you find some in your own back yard if you look close. In some fences you are likely to find some spiders too...
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Overread



Joined: 27 Aug 2017
Posts: 18
Location: UK - England

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few thoughts to add to the above:

1) Shutter speed. The 1/focal length of lens = shutter speed to avoid handshake is a rough rule of thumb that tends to work in the sort of 50-200mm range of focal lengths.
Outside of those focal lengths* things get a bit more complicated. I tend to find that longer (esp heavier) focal lengths require faster shutter speeds for a steady shot; whilst shorter focal lengths you can get away far slower and still get a sharp shot.
For macro though its different again because the magnification amplifies your motions a lot more. so whilst in theory 1/100sec is steady; the effect of macro is that you might need to be faster yet again unless you can rest a part of the setup on the surface or use the "right hand brace technique" (that term should google up details of that method).

2) As said earlier the middle of the day is a tough time; insects are typically warm and active whilst the natural light of the sun is right overhead and very harsh. This creates a doubly tricky situation for the macro photographer.
So yes early morning/evening/clouded days and also after sudden cold snaps are ideal times to head out. If you get a quick rain shower bigger bugs can get cooled off very quick. So a quick fall of rain and you can find insects like bees very torpid on flowers and the like.

3) Finding beasties - this is the hardest thing in any wildlife photography. Not just for learning it but for finding out about it because its often the most random/informal/unstructured part and many people who do find stuff often don't "think" about it enough to put it into clear simple words or to outline their method - they just sorta "do" it.

For insects check long stems early in the morning; you can find things like dragon flies latched on and ready to wait for the morning sun to warm them up for the day.
Food plants can also be a space where you'll find insects (study of any target species you're after in particular helps) near or around.

Another method is to bring the insects to you instead of going to them. Rotting fruit, wine ropes, sugar water solutions **, lights (eg moth traps). I've got (one of my best) photos from a hornet which was crashed out on the door of our house after a cold night, the hornet having been attracted by the houselights in the night (the nest also being in the roof helped it want to hang around that area).

I can't give much more specific info as, like yourself, I'm still learning how to find stuff.


*and remembering that this is only a rough estimation because of variation in conditions/camera weight/physical condition of the photographer (which will change through a day)

** sugar water is safer to use than honey since honey from a bee colony can poison bees that are not from that colony. Though most other insects should be safe
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with all you said!

One of the reasons I am planning to get the Yongnuo macro flash is that I can set the shutter speed to 1/250th second, and at macro focus distance of 4-1/2". still have plenty of light to support a smaller aperture setting and low ISO, and be able to also "darken"(relative to the subject) the distracting backgrounds often present in the natural setting.

I think ants are one of the toughest targets, as they always seem to move SO quickly! Apparently, they are attracted to sweets, so I am going to try bringing some sugar cubes with me next time, and break off some small chunks onto a log that I have seen them ALWAYS hanging around (Maybe they have a nest hidden in it?). The log provides a relatively "clear" background for photos, and hopefully the sugar will (a) attract multiple ants, and (b) keep them still for at least a few seconds while they eat a bit of it or at least grab a chunk of it to "take home"! Without stopping their constant movement, there is no hope of getting a good well focused shot.

I don't know if the sugar will work better dry or wet, so I'll try dry first, and if that does not work, I'll add water from a water bottle to dissolve it.

I thought about using syrup or other "sticky" sweets, but I really don't want the ants to get "stuck" in it, as that could either hurt or kill them, and I would rather not do that.

For saltwater aquatic species, I have found that the "tide pools" left behind in low spots after the tide goes out are often rich with snails, crabs, and other small species (1/4" to 1/2" size usually, but the odd 1" to 3" crab!). The challenges there are:
- Shooting through a layer of water
- The water is often a bit "murky" as it is rich in microscopic sized plant and animal life
- The critters like to hide by burying themselves in the sand or mud bottom, or by hiding under sea vegetation. In fact, one 1" crab that I stalked for 20 or more minutes made a point of moving through seaweeds so he could get a camouflage layer of it on his back that remained there will he hunted! He finally surfaced to see what was stalking him, and I quickly grabbed a "Jaws"-like photo!
- Many of the sea plants, and even many sea animals that deliberately "look like" plants, reflect sunlight fiercely even when temporarily outside the water

Jim G
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suggest also to consider shooting video and extracting single frames from that. As I read the specs, Canon 70D will shoot video up to 1920x1080 x 30 frames/second. There may be some video compression artifacts, and you're limited in control over effective shutter speed and so on, but having so many frames to choose from gives a HUGE increase in the odds for getting something that's properly framed, focused, and otherwise attractive.

--Rik
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JimGnitecki



Joined: 12 Sep 2017
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
I suggest also to consider shooting video and extracting single frames from that. As I read the specs, Canon 70D will shoot video up to 1920x1080 x 30 frames/second. There may be some video compression artifacts, and you're limited in control over effective shutter speed and so on, but having so many frames to choose from gives a HUGE increase in the odds for getting something that's properly framed, focused, and otherwise attractive.

--Rik


That's a really good idea Rik, that I had not even considered. The video mode should work fine even with the macro lens and the Kenko extension tubes. I don't know if I cna still use the viewfinder or be forced to use the LCD screen (LiveView), but will try it at home first to see. I tend to need to the viewfinder to follow the action quickly enough! The LCD is not intuitive as far as following the critter!

Jim G
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I expect you'll have to use the LCD. As far as I know, the 70D has an optical viewfinder that works only when the mirror is down.

But I also expect you'll find that after a while the LCD becomes a lot more usable than it is at first. Some time spent practicing will be well rewarded.

--Rik
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