Colorful Fall Handheld Panoramas From Davidsons Mill Pond

We went to Davidsons Mill Pond Park to photograph the Fall colors. I was only using my Canon R with a 24-105mm lens & my iPhone 11 Pro. All panorama images here are with the 24-105mm @ various focal lengths. I purposely made a series of panoramas at different focal lengths (as listed below images) and different numbers of images per panorama. I was trying to show how sometimes it is better to use more images per panorama in the beginning & once you get used to doing them you can use less images and still get the image that you wanted. Also by shooting more images than you need, you get used to how the process works and get the feel for how many you will need in the future. In Photoshop you just load all images into one layered Photoshop file. Select layers and chose Auto-Align, then Auto-Blend. Comes in handy for the times you want a wider image or taller image and have the wrong lens to accomplish your vision. If needed I can post a more step by step process blog.

5 Image panorama @ 24mm, Canon R ( with lots of overlapping for better alignment & blending)
7 Image panorama @ 24mm, Canon R, with much more overlapping on each image. Trying to show more of the water reflections
7 image panorama, 24mm, Canon R, images with more overlapping on each image
4 image panorama, 24mm, Canon R, images with less overlapping on each image
4 image panorama, 24-105mm @ 24mm, Canon R – 4 images with more than usual overlapping in each image
4 Horizontal images, stacked vertically with lots of overlapping on each image, 24-105mm lens @ 70mm, panorama
Davidsons Mill Pond Boat Launch Area, 24-105mm @47mm, 4 horizontal images stacked VERTICALLY with less overlapping on each image for a vertical image made with horizontal images

Focus Stacking RainDrop Images

After a rain it is fun to go out in the gardens to photograph raindrops. To get more Depth of Field (sharper focus across the image) and still have a smoother background, I use Focus Stacking techniques. I usually use f/8 or f/11, but it depends on how many images I want in my Focus Stack and how soft a background I want. The more wide open your f/stop, the more Focus Points you will need to add to the series of images. The Featured Image was 10 images taken with a 150mm Sigma macro lens @ f/8 on a Canon R. Images were loaded into 1 Layered Photoshop file and then let Photoshop align the 10 layers. (Edit-Auto Align Layers). After aligning the layers, choose Auto-Blend Layers to let Photoshop blend the sharpest sections from each layer into the final image. This Layer will be on the top of the layered Photoshop file. You will see the masked layers below the final showing the sharpest sections Photoshop masked and blended for the final layer on top. I usually save this layered file in case I need to go in and do a slight touch up here or there. Start with a 3 or 4 layered stack to help get the feel for doing this technique. Once you have done a few you will get the technique down and see what f/stops or how many layers work best for your imaging style. Also the amount of layers depends on how much of the image you want to be in sharp focus.

Raindrops – 8 image Focus Stack – @ f/2.8, Sigma 150mm macro, Canon R
Raindrops – 9 image Focus Stack, f/8. 150mm, Sigma 150mm, Canon R
Raindrops – 12 image Focus Stack, f/16
Raindrops – 12 image Focus Stack, f/8 for Smoother Background

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.

Blue Dasher v4

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.

 

Blue_Dasher_v3_portrait vert 300mm f4_2X_Canon R_v2_ v1076A4672

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.
Swallows nest_4Swallows_nest_v6_076A3964Swallows nest v7Swallows nest v1 Carport_6 20076A3792Swallows nest v2_076A3789Swallows nest v1_076A3973

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.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 4.41.50 PM

Bleeding Heart_8img stk f11_v1

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

Water_Drops_v2_2img stk_f16_ISO2000

18 image stack @ f/8

Water_Drops_v1_150mm_f16_ISO_2000_8img

8 image Focus Stack – f/16

RainDrops 12img_D_f8_12img_Stk_v5

12 Image Focus Stack @ f/8

RainDrops 9img D-18_9img Stk_v3a

9 Image Focus Stack f/5.6

RainDrops v2_150mm _7img pano f8_800ISO

7 Image Stack @ f/8

RainDrops_18img f_8_v2_150mm stack

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.

Alligator_teeth_v2_560mm_43G4774

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

3_Alligators_protectors_v1_AF_4_19_400mm_076A9593

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

Alligator v1 SA_76A1310

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.

Anhinga_fm_v1_LW_1_20_076A2339

Anhinga_Thru_Reeds_v2_076A2311

Male Anhinga that was off to one side

Anhinga_v1_LW_076A2338Anhinga_v2_300mm_R__076A2324Anhinga_v2_LE_300mm_R_076A2318

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:

Cormorant_v1_LW_7D_273mm_0303

Cormorant @ 273mm

Cormorant_v2_375mm_MG_0292

Cormorant @ 375mm

Cormorant_v2_7D_375mm

Cormorant @ 375mm

Cormorant_v1_LW_7D_375mm_MG_0294

Cormorant @ 375mm

Cormorant_v1_LW_1_20_7D_309mm_MG_0299

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.

Feathers_100mm v3Macro 100mm 2img pano_v2_f18Feather 10- 3img stk_100mm f16Feather_2img Pano f16 100mm_v2Macro_100mm f16 4img stk_v1Macro_100mm_f16_8img stk_pano_v2Macro_100mm_f14_v2_76A1413-2

Macro_100mm f14 v1_76A1415

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.

%d bloggers like this: