Blue Dasher In Our Garden

I noticed a male Blue Dasher on the top of a Gladiola in our garden as I was looking out the window. So I went out to get some images to post. It has been unusually extra hot here in NJ, so we have not gone to any of the local parks lately. As I was inching closer to the Dasher, it flew off, but quickly returned to the same spot. After doing that multiple times it finally stayed on the tip of the tall plant. I guess it began to tolerate me as I was inching closer. I was hand holding my camera, but I shot a series of focus points along the dragonfly for image stacking. The Blue Dasher was close to the side of my home so I was shooting wide open to have a smoother background. This eliminated the shadows under the rows of siding that would have given confusing rows of darker stripes to the background. I was using a Canon R with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro and a Sigma 2x teleconverter. So with the 2x teleconverter, my wide open f/stop was f/5.6. I manually focused a series of focus points from wingtip to wingtip plus close ups of the face. I was surprised the Blue Dasher did not fly off and allowed me to get right in it’s face, so to speak. So I tried many different focus stacks to see which might work better. Here are a few images from the series.

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First focus stacked image, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro, with Sigma 2x teleconverter, 5 images, Canon R @ f/5.6.  With focus stacking shooting @ f/5.6, I eliminated the shadows under the rows of siding behind the dragonfly.

 

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Dasher Image (2 images) concentrating on face, legs, plant tip & front of wings.

Tree Swallow Nest In My Carport

When I was going to my car in the carport I noticed a Swallow flying in food to it’s chicks in a nest in the eaves of the carport. So I went to get a camera to photograph the chicks. The nest was in a very dark corner on the inside below the roof edge. Because of how dark it was and I was using a 300mm f/4 lens @ f/5.6, I upped my ISO to 3200 ISO to get a little higher shutter speed to get to sharper images in the dim light.
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Bleeding Heart Panorama & Focus-Stacking For Smoother Backgrounds

After a heavy rain the other day I went out to see if I could find some interesting subjects with water drops to photograph. I wanted to use Image Stacking for more detail in the water drops and main subjects, but still have softer backgrounds. This is one of the first subjects I came upon. I was using a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon R. These are all handheld because it was difficult to get the view I wanted using a tripod. The featured image is 13 images shot from left to right @ f/2.8.  Each image in the panorama series is manually focused for the area needed in focus as I shot along the subject to keep a softer cleaner looking background.

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8 image handheld panorama focused stacked stopping down to  f/11  – giving a much busier looking background

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18 image stack @ f/8

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8 image Focus Stack – f/16

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12 Image Focus Stack @ f/8

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9 Image Focus Stack f/5.6

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7 Image Stack @ f/8

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18 image stack @ f/8 for a much wider focus range.

Red-Spotted Purple Butterflies

Since we are following stay at home guidelines these were taken on a photo walk at Plainsboro Preserve last year to look for dragonflies. We only saw a few dragonflies and most were very worn looking. But then we saw quite a few Red-Spotted Purple Butterflies. I was shooting @ 600mm and for closeups I did a series of different focus points and then let Photoshop align and combine the sharpest areas into the final image. The featured image was 3 shots, the one below was only 2 before it flew off.Red_Spotted Purple_Butterfly v1_PP_76A5316

More CloseUp American Alligator Images From Florida

 

An assortment of close-up images of Alligators from 2 Florida locations, along the paths at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Rookery. Featured image taken at Ding Darling NWR with 300mm f/4 Lens, Canon R.

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Alligator Teeth 560mm, Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, Florida.  Canon 1D mkIV, 400mm DO lens, 1.4X Teleconverter

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Alligator @ 400mm, Tamron 150-600mm lens, Canon R, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

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Alligator @ 226mm, Tamron 150-600mm lens, Canon R, , St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Following is information on Alligators from Ding Darling NWR’s website.

One of only two alligator species in the world, the American Alligator is a large reptile found in freshwater habitats throughout the southeastern United States. Adult male alligators can grow up to 4.6 meters long and weigh over 500 pounds while females are generally smaller and average only 3 meters long with a weight of 200 pounds. Commonly portrayed as green, the skin of an American alligator is actually a dark grey color with pale yellow on the underside, and the juveniles have bright yellow stripes along their backs until they mature and the striped fade. The dark coloration allows this predator to better blend into the swamps, marshes, and wetlands it inhabits and camouflages the animal while it hunts at night. Another adaptation that allows the alligator to better hunt within its watery habitat is a double set of eyelids. One set of eyelids is much like a humans, they close up and down and protect the eye from debris and light. A second set of translucent eyelids, called a nictitating membrane, close front to back and are used to protect the eyes while the alligator is underwater. Like other reptiles, American alligators are cold blooded and need heat from the sun or other sources such as warm water to be active or even to digest their food. Special bone plates called scutes grow between layers of skin along the back of the alligator, giving the animal an armored appearance and acting as a solar plate. The scutes collect heat from the sun when the alligator sunbathes and warms the blood that runs through the vessels of the skin, transferring the heat throughout the body. Despite their appearance as slow, lazy, or unresponsive which sunbathing as alligator is capable of running up to 11 miles per hour on land in short bursts. This species is much better built for water travel, where it is able to utilize its tail as a paddle and rudder to guide the torpedo-shaped body through the water at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

 

Anhinga Drying Wings

We saw quite a few Anhingas at Lake Woodruff_NWR and got quite a few images of them for the couple of days we were there. This one had been fishing in the water and you can see it is shaking off some water drops above the beak on the featured image. It seems amazing they can hold on to branches with those large webbed feet. When they look right at you they seem to have a small head for such a large body. When fishing they use that sharp beak to spear their pray. Most of these images are of the female Anhinga.

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Male Anhinga that was off to one side

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Cormorant Portraits, Sunning On Treetops

We saw a quite a few Cormorants sunning on the top of trees as we were walking the trails on our trip to Lake Woodruff NWR. The featured image was taken with a 300mm f/4 lens. I liked the strong sunlight on the Cormorant enabling more detail in the dark black bird. The images here were 2 different cormorants from different tree branches.Cormorant_v1_LW_7D_300mm_MG_0257

Additional Cormorant Images:

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Cormorant @ 273mm

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Cormorant @ 375mm

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Cormorant @ 375mm

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Cormorant @ 375mm

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Cormorant @ 309mm

TableTop Photography With Focus Stacking For Detail & Depth of Field

It is getting colder outside and not a lot of interesting subjects to photograph. When I was out photographing during the year, I look for interesting objects & props for subjects in my little indoor studio for the colder & snowy months. I also have a series of prepared 13 x 19 or larger backgrounds I have designed in Photoshop and printed on a heavyweight Luster Photo media. This gives me stock backgrounds ready to use for my “still life” shots. I print at the highest print setting to minimize the inkjet dot pattern in the prints, which only really might show up in very close macro shots. For this series, I used a set of 400 watt second monolights with softboxes for overall lighting. The images here are shot with a 100mm macro lens with 3 to 8 different focused area shots for each main image. Then put those shots into 1 layered Photoshop file for each of the different still life layered setups. Next I used Photoshop to “Focus Stack” and align those layers. I then used Photoshop to blend the sharpest sections of each of the layers below into one final top layer with the sharpest areas from those below. By shooting a variety of sharp focus points across your image, you “pick and choose” your areas you want sharp, or areas you want to de-emphasize by softening that area. In the “Old Days” I would have used view cameras with swings & tilts to maximize sharpness across the image. Or purposely throw off sharpness for soft out of focus areas that your eye then goes to the sharp in focus area that draws your attention to a certain spot in the image. All images in this series were photographed with a Canon 100mm f/ 2.8 macro lens.

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Sometimes you try a few layouts then choose the one you like best when they are all assembled. The image above this one was the image I liked best from these 2 layouts, Probably because they were pointing upwards instead of downward.

Great Egret Catches Lunch

Outside our complex is a small pond along an access road. There usually are a lot of Canada Geese here, but scattered along the far shoreline in the pond are Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and Cormorants. Also a few shore birds are working along the edge. It is down a slope from the road, so you are sort of shooting down at them from quite a distance so you need a long lens to photograph them. Because of the distance I was using a Tamron 150-600mm lens with a Sigma 2X teleconverter for a 1200mm field of view to fill the frame more with the birds. I am surprised the Canon R autofocuses quickly with the combination of a 2X Teleconverter on a f/6.3 zoom lens. With the 2X teleconverter on the Tamron 150-600mm f/6.3 lens, my wide open f/stop was f/13. So I stoped down to f/16 to help with shrapness.  My Canon 1D Series bodies would not autofocus past f/11 if you stacked teleconverters.

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Great Egret finally catches a fish for lunch – Canon R @ 1200mm

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Great Egret Working Shoreline – Canon R @ 1200mm

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Great Egret Working It’s way down the far Shoreline – Canon R @ 1200mm

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Cormorants Swimming By – Canon R 1200mm

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Cormorants Swimming By – Canon R – 1200mm

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Great Egret working the Far Shoreline – Canon R – 1200mm

Great Blue Heron In Finis Pool @ Bombay Hook NWR

Towards the end of the Wildlife Drive at Bombay Hook is Finis Pool. Quite often you can get photos of turtles here along with ducks. On this day we found a cooperative Great Blue Heron that posed for us. We took a few images and then moved on to not disturb the Heron. Plus a couple of turtle images, since we were there. Here I was using a Canon R with a Tamron 150-600mm zoom.

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Great Blue Heron @ 600mm

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Great Blue Heron @ 428mm

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Great Blue Heron @ 600mm

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Great Blue Heron @ 600mm

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Turtle on Stump – Finis Pool – 600mm

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Turtles Warming In Sun – Finis Pool, 600mm

 

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