Colors of Fall Starting to Fade


Here in the Northeast the Fall colors are beginning to fade. I met my friend at the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale NJ one morning to see what we could find before the Fall colors turned into brown, dried out leaves. I thought we had a good chance to find bright subjects that would stand out against the fading or subdued foliage. I decided to travel light, taking my Canon 70-300mm DO lens on a EOS 1D MkIV body which gave me a good focal length range in a small, lightweight package. I also used a Canon Flash set at -1 stop just to help fill in my subjects in the early morning light and helped me shoot handheld instead of using a tripod. The Canon 70-300mm DO has a poor reputation because of its Diffraction Optics, but it is one of my favorite lenses. It is about an inch shorter , but wider than a normal 70-300mm lens. It also has Image Stabilization, but I believe it takes a second for it to kick in, so I take this into account also. Shooting Raw files and adjusting them in Adobe Camera Raw makes this lens shine and a winner. Getting back to photographing, I tried different crops, shooting angles, and combining bright or vibrant subjects with darker subjects or backgrounds. I was also trying to place my subjects on a pleasing softer backdrop, so I used an f/ stop of f/7.1 or f/8 to keep the backgrounds simpler. Hope you enjoy them.


















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First Frost Here in Northern NJ

We finally got a First Frost here in Northern New Jersey. It was not a heavy frost and seemed to be late in coming. Usually we get first frost much earlier here in October. Being it was much later in the month, the leaves were really dried out and duller. The minute the sun hit the leaves the frost melted so I had to work in the shaded areas. I used my Canon MkIV with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS macro. Because it was early in the morning and in the shade I raised my ISO to 1250 at f/5.6 which usually would give me a shutter speed of about 1/60 sec. I also tried to shoot straight down or as little  of an angle as possible to get greater depth of field since I was at f/5.6. Hope you enjoy them.

Fall Photos

I spent the morning with a friend at the Greenway entrance to The Clery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, NJ. We were looking for Fall Still Life images in the fields. There had been a rain during the night so there were water droplets all around.  All images were with the Canon 1D MkIV with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS Macro. Because of the breeze I shot some images at f/4  to help stop the motion with a higher shutter speed and used a 2 shot image stack for the depth of field and also for exposure of the highlights.









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Leaf Abstract

With all the leaves starting to turn color, I thought I would try some extreme closeups of leaf details. I could use a standard macro, or a Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5X macro, but I decided to try something different. I mounted an old FD Canon manual focus 50mm f/1.8 lens with a m43 adapter on my Panasonic GH2. Then I added an achromatic closeup lens. An Achromatic lens or achromat is a lens that is designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration, which limits distortion. It is basically like a closeup filter to get closer to your subject. You do not need extension tubes, You use them like a filter on the front of the lens. You can get very inexpensive ones, which are usually one piece of glass to very good ones with multiple  pieces of glass. They range in price from $15 to thousands of dollars, but you can get good ones from Canon, Nikon or Raynox for a reasonable price. I have many different kinds that I have collected over the years, but used a set here with 3 different strengths, 6X, 12X & 24X. These just screw into an adjustable mount that clips onto the front of the lens. Just be careful to get as parallel to your subject as you can. The leaves were blowing in the wind, so I tried to capture the images in-between gusts. Here are a series of images using all three. So give it a try, they are handy to have in a pocket when you need them, without the weight and size of having a macro lens with you. Do they replace a macro lens? No, but come in handy, especially for some extreme closeups.





Caterpiller Wreath

I found this rolled up caterpillar on a bench. I thought it was interesting with the spikes and colors. The caterpillar reminded me of a wreath. Canon 1D MkIV with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS Macro. The caterpillar was in the shade so I used f/8 to get some depth of field for the spikes and tried to shoot straight down with the front of the lens  parallel to the caterpillar to get as much in the plane of focus. I ended up with 1/30 of a second exposure at ISO 800 , handheld, so I shot a burst which enabled me to pick the sharpest exposure in the series. I believe it is a Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar, a stinging caterpillar. It uses poison filled bristles to defend itself. 

Fall Spider Web

Here is my last photo from my walk at the Celery Farm Natural Area on Monday. I saw this spider web as I was going over the small bridge on the way to my car. I only had my 150mm macro, but took a few shots to try to get something. The web was about 20 to 25 feet away. Here is an extreme crop, but I still liked it.

Milkweed Pods

Took a walk around Lake Appert at the Celery Farm Natural Area and came across Milkweed Pods by the Butterfly Garden. I thought they looked interesting with side/backlighting. Used a Canon MkIV with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro lens.




Colors of Fall in the Northeast

I spent the last few days wandering around a few of my local shooting areas looking for local Fall Color. You do not have to go far, look around your own yard or local park, you might be surprised at what you find. Here are a few from my yard and The Celery Farm Natural Area, 107 acre fresh water wetland. All were taken with my Canon 1D MkIV and the Sigma 150 f/2.8 macro. The 150mm macro is a great lens and the right focal length for these. Most of the time I set an f/stop of  f/2.8 if they were in the shade and increased to f/5.6 in brighter light. I wanted to keep a shallower depth of field to keep some backgrounds less obtrusive. I also tried to shoot straight in to my subjects (parallel) to maximize sharpness across the leaves. You do not have to travel far to get some Fall Color Images and it can also be a challenge to see what you can shoot.

Spiders & More Spiders

_MG_4807It seems to be the season for spiders. Working in the yard I am coming across quite a few. The one from the other day enlarged its web to about 8 ft wide. Very poor light and windy, but here are a few quick captures, plus one from last week. With the poor light and the wind I had to use a high ISO and f/ stops from f/2.8 to f/5.6 to get something usable. All shot with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro on a Canon 7D. Opened in Camera Raw with aggressive noise reduction. I have to find something besides spiders for next time. I also added one Dragonfly that I just came across and liked.






Bombay Hook NWR

I was looking through some of my backed up files and found images from Bombay Hook, National Wildlife Refuge in Smyrna, Delaware. The refuge has a Wildlife Drive that is about eight miles long along the Delaware Bay and covers over 16,000 acres. You can find many subjects for your photography – Wildlife, Birds, Flowers, Landscapes. and macro subjects.  There are also many trails and lookout towers. So depending on the day, you can find a wide variety of subjects for your vision. Usually we only drive through quickly on our way to Blackwater NWR in Maryland. We are planning to go back to spend the day and fully explore the refuge.








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