Blue Dasher – 12 Image Focus Stack

When doing a multi-image focus stack for more depth of field on a dragonfly image, I usually set my f/stop to f/11 or f/16 when using a 300mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. This way I do not need as many shots for the full focus series of images. Many times a dragonfly will fly off or change position before I finish the series for a stack so I cannot use it and have to start over. This dragonfly seemed to be very still & cooperative. So I managed to do a focus stack from head to tail, including wingtip to wingtip. This series was 12 images, shot at f/8 for a smooth clean background. For a focus stack with a large number of images, I also use a tripod. After flattening the layered file, you might have a minor touch up here or there.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly @ 960mm

Here are a few images of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly from our visit to Davidsons Mill Pond Park. The featured image is a single image shot with a Canon 300mm f/4 lens with a 2x teleconverter on a Canon 7D @ f/11. Image below was a Blend of 2 stacked images, blended in Photoshop with a soft edge on the seam. Field of View equivalent with the Canon 7D (1.6x crop camera) 300mm f/4 lens, Canon 2x teleconverter ~ 960mm. When using a 2x teleconverter your lens wide open will be @ f/8, not f/4 because you loose 2 stops of light with the 2x teleconverter. So I usually stop down at least 1 additional f/stop to help with sharpness because of the added teleconverter. Swallowtail_v4_960mm_7D_MG_2578

 

Damselfly 8 Image Focus Stack

When I was photographing this Damselfly, I decided to shoot with the aperture wide open. I wanted a very smooth background to highlight the Damselfly and the water drops and keep a smooth background. So I shot a series of 8 images focusing on the Damselfly and the water drop covered stem. I shot a series focused on 8 different focus points, going from left to right. I was using a Sigma 150mm Macro with a 2x teleconverter. With the 2x teleconverter on my 150mm f/2.8 lens, my maximum (Aperture) f/stop was f/5.6 wide open.  (With a 2x teleconverter you loose 2 stops). I loaded the 8 images into 1 Photoshop layered file and used Photoshop to automatically align the 8 layers in the file. Next I used Photoshop to automatically pick the the sharpest areas & soft background areas in each layer for the final image. I saved that file in case I need to make minor touch ups here or there. After that I flattened the layers for my final image.

Damselfly Panorama

I like using a few different camera systems depending on what I am shooting. Or more likely, what I want to carry & lug around. If I am at a location working near the car, that is not usually a problem. But sometimes I just like walking around, but still want to photograph some interesting subjects that I might come across. Here I am using one of my m43 camera bodies with an adapted old style Canon FD 200mm Macro lens. On m43 cameras it is sort of equivalent (in easy terms) of using a 400mm macro an a full frame body. Instead of going to 1X magnification, because of the crop factor of the m43 system the FOV (Field Of View) is ~2X. This is a 3 image panorama. Luckily the Damsel co-operated for me.

Damselfly GH+200mmFD_1200727

Damselfly – Single Image

DAMSELFLY STACK V1_43G0245

Damselfly 4img (overlapping) Focus Stack

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly

While we were looking for Dragonflies at Plainsboro Preserve I noticed this Red-Spotted Purple butterfly warming on the ground. I was using a close focusing 300mm f/4 lens with a 2X teleconverter so I could get closer images of distant insect subjects (usually Dragonflies) so I manually focused on 3 different areas to blend them into 1 sharp image in Photoshop. Using f/4 for my f/stop (with a 2X teleconverter it is actually f/8 then with the 2X teleconverter giving a 600mm focal length) and focused on middle body, then antennas and lastly rear wing edge. I used to mainly use a 1.4X teleconverter for this type of shooting but the Canon R files are extremely clean even at much higher ISO’s so the 2X gives me more working distance. Then used Photoshop to blend the sharpest areas automatically into 1 merged image. Photoshop usually does a good job on this, but here in there I might also do some manual editing to what Photoshop does. To bad it is getting late in the season for butterflies & insects. They are beginning to show signs of wear. Especially the Dragonflies!

Red_Spotted Purple_Butterfly v1_PP_76A5316

Another on a leaf still at f/4 (actual f/8 with 2X teleconverter but it flew off before I could do my near & far focus points. That is why I sometimes shoot center, then the near & far points.

Great Egrets Preening At Blackwater NWR

I finally got a chance to go through images I shot at Blackwater NWR a couple of months ago. Here are two Egrets preening in a tree along the Wildlife Drive. The featured image is a 3 image blend, shot with a 400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. I purposely shot the top and the bottom image a little softer so the main center area stood out more when I blended the images in Photoshop.

Egrets_v1_BWR

After I photographed the featured image series another Egret flew by behind the two in the tree, giving me an opportunity to photograph something flying! We then mostly concentrated on Landscape Panoramas and dragonflies the rest of the day. The cloud formations were spectacular so it was still a wonderful day to photograph at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge!

 

Blackwater NWR Sunset

We got to where we wanted on the Wildlife Drive to photograph the setting sun, but it was not as dramatic as we had hoped for. It was still fun to photograph and got a few good images. Then we moved a little closer, around the bend towards the straightaway to the exit. These are combinations of exposure  blends for darks & lights for shadow detail and bright detail along with multi-images for size. I was using 2 cameras, one with a 24-105mm, the other with a 12-24mm. The featured image is at 105mm (5 images, blended). If you see any specks in the sky, they are birds flying through. After the sun went below the horizon we then headed back to the motel to rest up for sunrise the next day.

BWR_Sunset_v8_5img_24mm

Series of 5 images blended in Photoshop, 24mm

BWR_Sunset_v1_105mm_MAL7029

Three image blend @105mm

BWR_Sunset_v1_MAL7183

Four image blend @24mm

BWR_Sunset_v11a_MAL7027

4 img blend @88mm

BWR_Sunset_12_MAL7407

3 image blend – Sundown @24mm

Raindrop on Evergreen Branch

I went outside after a rain to look for raindrops on flowers or leaves. On the evergreen by the sidewalk, I noticed this strand of a web with a large raindrop on it. There were a few smaller drops on the left part of the web strand to the left. This was 3 images shot with a close focusing 300mm lens. I like using the 300mm more for this type of shot than using a traditional macro. It gives me more working distance and a softer background than my typical macro lenses. Even my 150mm, 180mm or 200mm macros do not give me the same “look” that I wanted.

After the featured image I shot a series of 4 horizontal images along the top of the same branch. It seemed like there were a lot of water drops on  the branches. It looked like the rain ran down the lower needles and ended on the tip of the needles.

Evergreen Pano 5 img_raindrops_v1 5_18

4 image horizontal panorama from same above tree

Sunset On The Golf Course

It was supposed to be a nice sunset so we took a walk on the Golf Course in our community. These are a series of panoramas / image blends combined in Photoshop from 2 to 7 images each. I used a Canon 24 – 105mm zoom lens, handheld, at various focal lengths. I also tend to try to overlap images more for panoramas. We also were in different areas for the series as we were walking and moving towards the sunset. The featured Image was 2 images @ 105mm. Being in NJ, you will also see a few with jet contrails in the clouds. It is tough in New Jersey to get a sky sometimes without them and I had a limited time to shoot the series so I left them in.

Golf Course Sunset 7 img 35mm blend

7 Image Pano / blend @ 35mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop.

 

Golf_Course_Sunset_3img_vert_pan

3 Image Pano / blend @ 45mm, vertical images, Pano assembled vertically in PhotoShop

Golf_Course_Sunset_5img v3 pano

5 Image Pano / blend @ 32mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Golf_Course_3_img_88mm_vert_pan_v1

3 Image Pano / blend @ 88mm, vertical images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Sunset_Clouds_v1_43G2821

2 Image Pano / blend @ 45mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Golf_Course_Sunset_v1_43G2784

2 Image Pano / blend @ 32mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop. Concentrating – Centered on the main cloud

Golf_Course_Sundown v1_24mm_43G2744

2 Image Pano / blend @ 24mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Golf_Course_2_sht_Pano_vert_v2_43G2677

2 Image Pano / blend @ 24mm, vertical images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Golf_Course_24mm_Sunset_43G2654

2 Image Pano / blend @ 24mm, horizontal images, Pano assembled in PhotoShop

Day Lily 4 Shot Panorama & Focus Stacking

I used 4 photos shot at different focus points and narrow depth of field to get a soft background along with sharp detail on my flower subjects. Shot with a handheld Sigma 150mm macro lens @ f/5.6. Assembled in Photoshop for both the blending of images and then the panorama.

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