One Leg Up Reddish Egret

This Reddish Egret was just standing on one leg for about an hour. I was shooting other birds flying in and out, hunting for their meals and interacting with each other. This one was just standing on one leg watching what was going on. I usually do not see them that motionless for that long. At least being that still made for a good subject to photograph.

Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Sigma 300-800mm DG f/5.6 zoom @ 800mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 640

Snowy Egret Portrait

I found this Snowy Egret at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. It was in the branches of a tree along the boardwalk path in the Rookery. It was close to the walk but in the dark shadows under the branches of the tree. I opened up my aperture and raised the ISO to 1600 since I was also trying to get birds in flight flying in to roost in the gray drizzly evening.  The Snowy was a little wet from a drizzle and was getting ready for the evening. It did not seem bothered by my presence, but it kept an eye on me. I took a series of shots, then moved on so I did not bother him.

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Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO f/4 IS, handheld, f/4.5, 1/000 sec, ISO 1600

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Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO f/4 IS, handheld, f/4.5, 1/000 sec, ISO 1600

Dragonfly Profile

It was a snowy day so I was going through old files and found a profile photo of this Blue Dasher Dragonfly. I photographed this with a Canon EOS 1D MkIII with a 400mm f/4 DO with 56mm of extension tubes,  f/11 @ 125/sec, ISO 400, flash -1 stop, with a Better Beamer Flash extender. I positioned the camera so I had a darker green, almost black, out of focus for the background to make the Dragonfly stand out. I find the 400mm DO works well for closeup photos of Dragonflies. It also works well with a 1.4X teleconverter, adding a little more reach when they are skittish or in a hard to reach area, such as in grasses in water.

Studio Stacked Images

With it getting colder outside I was looking for images in the archives. One cold Winter Day last December, a friend came over to the studio for shooting some macro setup studio shots. When shooting closeup subjects, it is hard to get everything in focus, even at f/22 or f/32. Here are a series of stacked macro images shot with two different camera systems to show the depth of field you can get with Stacking images. For Short Stacks, you can try handholding, but for best results or Large Stacks, use a tripod and lock it down as best as you can. We were looking around the studio for subjects and came upon this deceased Robber Fly in a window. We positioned it on a Pussy Willow branch and printed out a slight gradated print for the background.  We used a Speedotron Black Line power pack and dialed down the power for the f/stop we wanted to use. I used a Canon EOS 1D MkIV with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, 1/125 sec @ f/8 ISO 200 for some images. The other system I used was a Panasonic GH2 m43 camera body with an older Canon 200mm f/4 FD Macro lens @ 1/80 sec @ f/8 for the 4 image Short Stack and f/4 for the 51 image Large Stack.  For stacked images, you start with the lens focused to your closest point and then shift focus farther back, shooting a series with a very slight focus shift as you go. The best way is to use a focusing rail to move your Camera & Lens at the same time instead of shifting focus on the lens, but these were shot by changing focus on the lens, which also works. Then I aligned the images in Photoshop. After Aligning, I Stacked the images in Photoshop. Depending on the number of layers in the stack, this can take a while to process. The stacked images here are a series of a Short Stack of 4 images, then a stack of 20 images and then a large stack of 51 images. Give it a try, especially on a cold Winter day.

Canon 200mm f/4 FD Macro lens @ 1/80 sec @ f/8  ISO 200 – 51 Image Large Stack robber stack 51 v2

Canon 200mm f/4 FD Macro lens @ 1/80 sec @ f/8  ISO 200– 4 image Short Stack

Robber 4stack GH2 v2

Canon 400mm f/4 DO w/ 36mm extension tube @ 1/125 sec @ f/8  ISO 400 -Single Image, No Stackbug macro_43G7918

Leaf above Ice

Going over files from last year and found this one. When the weather starts getting colder, I like looking for interesting ice patterns in streams or along lakes and hopefully with an item in the composition for a focal point.  I found this leaf stuck in a small twig above this ice formation. I liked the early morning low sun backlighting the leaf, adding warmth, highlighting textures & patterns in the ice. Photographed with a Canon Eos 1D MkIII with a Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM @ 300mm, 1/100 @ f/8, ISO 400. I also used High Pass Sharpening in Photoshop to help bring out details & textures in the ice and leaf.

Hawk Feather Still Life

I found this Hawk Feather in the yard so I thought I would try shooting a few Still Life images with the feather on an interesting background in the studio. I saved a wood section from a Pussy Willow tree that fell down during Hurricane Sandy and used it for an interesting textured background for the feather. When the weather gets colder or if it is a rainy day, it can be fun to try shooting setups indoors. You can use simple hot lights with homemade light modifiers, diffusers and scrims or even portable speed lights. I used a Canon EOS 1D MkIV with the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. Lighting was with a Canon 550 Speedlight with a reflector bouncing light back in for a ratio of about 1:3. Exposure was f/22 for maximum depth of field with an ISO of 400. During the year I save items I find thinking of using them as studio subjects when the weather turns cold.



Colors of Fall

Fall is moving on, getting colder every day. Most of the leaves are starting to become dull, but the Maple tree in the yard takes a while for the leaves to change color & really come down. This is a sign that Fall Color will be ending soon. Here is a series of colorful Maple leaf images when the Maple leaves started to come down in quantity with bright yellow colors. Starting with a wide view moving to a closer up composition. This helps visually to show the story of the Maple leaves in different views and compositions. Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS, 1/125 sec @ f/11,  ISO 320.

Opening Photo @ 24mm , 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 125  – effective focal length with 1.3 crop camera body is 31.2mm

105mm, 1/100 sec, f/11, ISO 320  – effective focal length with 1.3 crop camera body is 136.5 mm

maple leaves_43G7898

~75mm, 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 320  – effective focal length with 1.3 crop camera body is 110.5 mm leaves_43G7837 v2

55mm, 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 320  – effective focal length with 1.3 crop camera body is 71.5 mm leaves_43G7821 v2

A Little Different Macro – Canon MP-E 65mm

I went out to The Celery Farm Natural Area to photograph very small dried wildflowers. I took along my Canon MP-E 65 mm 1-5X Macro. This is a very specialized macro lens that starts at 1X and goes to 5X magnification. It is more like a lens with a variable extension tube zooming out for the increased magnification. I decided to add a 1.4X teleconverter to add a little more working distance. This adds just a little bit more working distance, in some cases the front element is less than an inch away from your subject, but every bit helps. With the 1.4X Teleconverter it makes this a 91mm f/4. I was using a Canon Macro Ring Flash MR-14 EX to light these subjects as I was shooting handheld. My camera body was a Canon 1D MkIV camera body, so with the 1.3 crop of the sensor, this also adds to the lens, making it 1.3X to about 6X. For the wildflowers I left it at 1.3X for most, then later I shot some areas of the wooden lookout tower at various magnifications to show the different magnifications. I used aperture priority for some where I wanted to get some background detail, while the ones I have with dark backgrounds I used Manual exposure to darken the background and let the flash light the subject.

Full image for an idea of scale and subject


One of the smaller dried wildflowers @ 1.3X, lit with ring lash, no ambient light, for darker background

Larger Dried Wildflower @ 1.3X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposure, ambient light for background 1/10 of a second


Dried Wildflower @ ~3X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposure, 1/80 sec ,positioned for dark background_43G4625

Dried Wildflower Bud @ ~2X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposureambient light for background 1/60 of a second_43G4521

Reference shot for examples of scale
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~ 2X  Magnification, Carriage bolt magnification detail_43G4545 1x

~ 4X  Magnification,, Carriage bolt magnification detail_43G4556 5x+

~ 6X  Magnification, Wood grain and with slight crack in wood grain around Carriage bolt_43G4579 6x v2

Walk in the Woods

I took a leisurely walk around the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, NJ on Sunday looking for Fall Still Life images. I found a few I liked and also a few general interest Fall images as I was walking along the path. Here are some of what I found. I used my 1D MkIV with the Canon 70-300mm DO lens for the longer zoom range which comes in handy for a wider range of images, especially if you do not know what you will come across while on your walk. It also works well with extension tubes for closeup images when you come across them. The 70-300mm DO makes a great walk around lens especially with the Image Stabilization. I usually carry a 12mm & 20mm extension tubes with me, along with 12″ silver/gold collapsable reflector & 12″ diffuser for either reflecting light into a subject or for diffusing harsh sunlight.







Painted Turtle 
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Milkweed Two Image Panorama_43G2655 v4

Fall Color – Metasequoia

This is one of my favorite trees on my property- the Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood). This is one of three species of Conifers known as Redwoods. Even though it is the smallest it can grow to 200 ft tall and up to 6 feet wide at the base. They are originally from China. In the fall, the leaves go from a green to an orange brown. But the fruit, a  Four-sided, box-like cone that hangs on long stalks are, round to cylindrical in shape, 1/2 to 1 inch long and start out as a solid green cone.. They mature in in the Summer and go to a  Brown color and open up with a spiral pattern. Then in the fall they change to Green in color. So they are like a reverse color scheme from Summertime going back to Green, but are open with the spiral. They are fun to photograph because of the colors and the depth of the cone. The Cones are a great challenge for a macro photo, a great subject for image stacking because of cylindrical spiral open rows. The trunk also has great texture and colors.









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