Early Morning Hoar Frost

We went to a local park early in the morning because it was perfect conditions for Hoar Frost. Hoar Frost is a deposit of ice crystals on objects exposed to the free air, such as grass blades, tree branches, or leaves. It is formed by direct condensation of water vapour to ice at temperatures below freezing and occurs when air is brought to its frost point by cooling. We had to get there before the sun hit those areas with the frost which makes it more difficult to photograph because there is not much light, meaning much slower shutter speeds. I did not have a tripod so I raised my ISO higher than I usually use. I was using a 150mm Sigma macro lens so I was shooting bursts hoping 1 or 2 frames might be a little sharper than others. With some of the handheld series, I loaded them into a layered Photoshop file and aligned them. Then I let Photoshop merge the sharpest areas of each into one file. It was fun searching for subjects out in the fields and you never know what you will find. Once the sun melted the Hoar Frost I noticed there were some amazing cloud formations. Since I only had the 150mm macro lens with me, I switched to my iPhone to capture some cloud panoramas for a future blog.


Snail Macro

When I was leaving to go to work, I noticed this tiny snail on the edge of the front door frame. It was smaller than a 1/4” long. I went back in and got a 100mm macro lens and shot a series of images at f/2.8 for a focus stack. I had to do this because I was using available light and did not want to push my ISO over 1250 ISO. Using a series of images for the focus stack letting Photoshop select the sharpest sections of each frame and merged them together for a final image. It was 5 am so it was pretty dark. I rested the front edge of the lens on the edge of the door frame and shot a series of focus points. Then let Photoshop do the rest.

Dandelion Closeup Image Stack

Very closeup images of Dandelions going to seed remind me of fireworks! One of my favorite setups for this is a m43 Panasonic Camera body with an old Canon FD 200mm f/4 manual focus macro lens. So with this setup I can go to 2x macro without extension tubes, plus I have a great working distance. It is sort of equivalent to a 400mm  macro on a 35mm format. This lens seems to work great on m43 bodies. Plus it gives a great working distance to your subjects. These are image stacked from 4 to 7 images at different focus points and combined in Photoshop.

C_Dandelion 4stk img 4aDandelion Natures Fireworks v2 7img stkDandelion stk 5 img a1E_Dandelion stk 4img v2F Dandelion stk 4img v1G Dandelion stk 4imgH Dandelion v1 6img 200mmI Dandelion 6img stk v3

Reflections In Water Drops

The weather has not been cooperating to go look for photo subjects, so I was trying water drops inside. I had wanted to do this for a while so I had gathered some of what I needed at work to take home. I used a sheet of plexiglass, treated with Rain-Ex to make the water drops bead up more, (lessens the surface tension on the drop making a better round drop). I braced it a about 6-7 inches above a flat surface so I could position photo subjects underneath so I would get interesting images in the water drops. I had an 18 x 24″ plexi so my braces holding up the plexi would not be reflecting in the drops. I also used, to be safe, small bottles of water which were clear to also help. It takes some trial and error, but you learn as you go and towards the end of my session I have come up with better techniques for next time. The hardest part was to get an interesting pattern of drops. I put some glycerine in the water and used a syringe to apply a pattern of drops by hand on the plexi. I did not want to use a spray bottle because some of the drops would blend together and get an odd oblong shape. I also was shooting at a very slight angle, but shooting directly down might be better. But you might reflect in the plexi so I have to see how that works. I tried a 150mm macro, but I switched to a 100mm macro which seemed to work better.  I was trying different apertures. It seems to be a balancing act to distance of drops to subject and f/stop used, but it is a trial and error as you go to see what works best for you. I might try a 50mm macro next time, but might have to have the plexi closer to the subject. I also tried a 2 image focus stack on some. One for the reflection in the drop and one for the base edge of the drops. I did not want to go above f/8 as I did not want my main subject for reflecting in the drop to be more in focus. I used a variety of subjects, but my favorite was a small US Flag I had on my desk. I tried different positions, f-stops. After my first session I have a few ideas to make it better next time. Just moving your main subject a little makes for different views in the drops.

Flag_stack layersflag_43G4131flag_43G4121flag_43G4096flag wave v1flag water drops_43G4227flag water drops_43G4097flag v2_43G4226flag v2_43G4211flag v1_43G4085Flag v1 _43G4201dollar_v2 v243G4232

Day Lily Stamen Image Stack

The Day Lily’s were blooming in our garden, so I wanted to do some closeup image stacks for practice. Usually I use a 50mm or 100mm macro lens, but I wanted a little more distance to concentrate on the stamens. It was a cloudy day so it was as if I was using a giant soft box so there were no harsh shadows to deal with. I used a 150mm macro to help concentrate on the stamens and still give me the working distance I wanted. This was a 6 image stack, focused pretty much just on the stamens. I did not want the whole flower in sharp focus, so I concentrated my focus stack only anthers on the end of the stamens. Again combined and assembled in Photoshop. Each Lily has 6 stamens attached at the base of the petals, and each stamen has a stalk called the filament that ends with a two-lobbed anther filled with yellow dust like yellow pollen.

Closeup Of Dogwood Bloom with Water Drops

After a rain, I went out looking for photo subjects. Our Dogwood tree had blooms on it so I started there. I found a bloom with water drops and a sun star on the drop. I was using a 200mm macro lens on a m43 body which also accented the sun star with the iris of the lens.

Feather Closeup 1X to 5X+ in Studio

When the weather gets colder and the days get shorter and grayer it is fun to shoot some extreme closeups of natural subjects in the studio. When I am photographing outside I collect subjects to photograph in the studio at a later date. My favorite is feathers, but leaves, seeds or almost anything natural can be interesting. Your studio can be your kitchen, living room, etc. or an actual photo studio. It is fun to try stretching your photographic vision in a controlled environment to see what you come up with. It can be extreme closeups of everyday items in your home or natural items you find and bring inside. It is interesting to see even a slight change in angle or shift in lighting can make a big difference in your final image. Simplistically, shooting parallel to your image gives you more depth of field across the subject, shooting at an angle gives you more of a view to highlight a certain area in sharp focus and a softer look in other areas highlighting a certain area you want to show. Also you can use many homemade items to add to your image. Try a small reflector or mirror to bounce back a little highlight to an area or even a white fill card. Lighting from above and behind adds more to surface textures. It is fun to try different techniques or just experiment to see what you get. Another technique to try is focus stacking, especially for closeup macro shots for more depth of field in your image. Images below are from 1X to 6 or 7X with a variety of macro lenses. 50mm macro, Canon MPE 65mm , 100mm macro and 150mm macro.

Feather stack eleven v1

Feather – 11 stacked images for more depth of field

feather stack eight v2

Feather Image – 8 stacked images for depth of field

_43G5943 stack v4

Feather – 4 stacked images for depth of field

feather_43G6019Feather v1_43G5993feather stack v2_hp 43G6010Feather 5x_43G6016Feather 4x_43G5998_43G5986 set3_43G584 stack v2

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