Freehand stack - Crab spider kill with waiting scavengers

Images of undisturbed subjects in their natural environment. All subject types.

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SteveB
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Freehand stack - Crab spider kill with waiting scavengers

Post by SteveB »

Hi all
This is my first post, so advice would be valued.

Image

Six shots in burst mode moving slowly backwards and then stacked with zerene Stacker mostly Dmap and touched up with the individual pictures where there were problems.

Hope you can feel the interest of that moment with me.

mawyatt
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Post by mawyatt »

Steve,

Amazing image :smt038

Geeze, I have trouble with an inanimate object, focus stacked with a stage. micro-positioners and studio lighting, and you can do this handheld, in the field with these insects!!

Stunning image and amazing technique indeed =D>

Best,
Research is like a treasure hunt, you don't know where to look or what you'll find!
~Mike

tevans9129
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Post by tevans9129 »

Awesome image....what Mike said.

Pau
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Post by Pau »

Steve, welcome aboard!

This is a very good image.
Pau

SteveB
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Location: Pretoria South Africa

Post by SteveB »

Thank you all very much for your encouraging remarks! I'm amazed at how well zerene stacker aligns handheld images. I'm quite surprised this technique is not more popular as it allows one to work without a flash as well as to throw untidy backgrounds deeply out of focus.

Stephen

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

Nice set of "vultures" waiting for their chance! I agree, this is a technique that people should try more often. One thing that can make it easier is in-camera focus bracketing, so you only have to stay still, rather than move and press shutter.

SteveB
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Post by SteveB »

Yes indeed, I can't imagine that I would buy a new camera again which does not have focus bracketing. On the other hand, people should not feel that it is so difficult that they don't even try until they have a camera with this feature. I spent about a year wanting to do this kind of photography with a new camera that I could not afford rather than actually doing it with the one I already have. So far my experience has been that Zerene stacker accommodates misaligned images from hand shake better than wind movement, probably because the twigs are twisting rather than moving in a straight line. Movement of the antennae or proboscis can often be "fixed" by choosing the sharpest source image of the object and "painting" it onto the stack. Even slow movement of the body of the insect almost always ruins the stack. This can be very frustrating because some things that are easy to get close to never actually stop moving completely.

Over the holidays I was able to borrow both the Olympus EM1 and EM1ii for two days and I was very impressed, but the focus bracketing function was not as quick to access and change as I had hoped. When you don't know whether your next picture will require a depth of field of 3 mm or 50 mm it seems a bit unfair to have to specify the number of shots quite deep in one of the menus. What I would like to see is an option where you just tell the camera to focus progressively towards or away from you and it keeps on taking pictures until you see that the zone of focus has covered your subject completely and you stop pressing the shutter button. If the camera knows the aperture and the existing focus point it should not be too difficult to work out the next point to move to. Maybe they could add focus peaking to the viewfinder image to help one see exactly where the focus lies.

As a matter of interest, does anyone out there know if these flies specialize in this kind of behavior?

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

SteveB, the Oly does do what you wish it would! Just set a very high number of shots, press the shutter once to start, and watch in the viewfinder until the stack has gone far enough for you, then press the shutter a second time to stop the stack at that point. Alternatively, if you are on a tripod, set an arbitrary number and if, at the end of the stack, you want to go deeper, press the shutter again and it will do another set starting from where the last stack stopped.

I have seen similar flies in the tropics on prey being eaten by a predatory katydid. I posted them on this forum, though in these posted pictures you can't see the flies very well:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... light=anzu

SteveB
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Post by SteveB »

Lou, thanks for clarifying that. How very like Olympus! Extremely well thought out and practical if you know what you are doing and maddeningly counter-intuitive if you don't! When I was trying out that feature I felt caught between deleting many completely out of focus shots and not getting the whole of what I wanted in sharp Focus. Maybe I'll be able to get the EM1i if I can sell my existing EM5i (which does not have focus bracketing).

The story of the two stick insects is fascinating and the pictures show just how gruesome life can be in the insect world. The picture in your blog of the discarded butterfly wing among the leaves has an incredible atmosphere. Your website and blog give amazing insights into the natural wonders of South America.

Troels
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Post by Troels »

Very nice and interesting picture, Steve.
I have never heard of vulture flies before.
Troels Holm, biologist (retired), environmentalist, amateur photographer.
Visit my Flickr albums

Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

What a spectacular moment, beautifully captured. I've never seen anything like it. I'd have thought flies would avoid spiders like the plague and wouldn't have the brains to figure out this spider is busy and hence "safe". Fascinating!

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

Steve, thanks, and yes, Olympus features are notoriously badly documented, but this focus-bracketing feature really is wonderful.

MarkSturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

The flies are 'kleptoparasites'. They will feed on stray hemolymph from the prey. Various species in different fly families do this. I have never seen it, but would very much like to.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

smashingoats
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Post by smashingoats »

Very Nice. Really like all the flies.

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