Plant Panorama

I liked the shape and curves of this plant. But I wanted a clean background, so I used a long lens but shot wide open so I had a soft clean green background. Also 3 overlapping images which I then assembled in Photoshop. I did not want to back up and get it in one shot because then I would also have more depth of field which means more background detail which I did not want. The closer you get with a long lens, the smoother the background when you shoot with the aperture wide open. I liked the curves and details on the plant and the arched shape. Shot with a close focusing 300mm lens @ f/4.

Black-Crowned Night-Herons In The Trees

These are from a previous trip to the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida. Sometimes it takes me a while to go through images that I have shot in the past. We found quite a few Black-Crowned Night-Herons that had nests in the trees at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm on this trip. We got there late in the afternoon and only had a short amount of time to photograph. They were just hanging out on the branches near their nests. It was interesting to photograph them in the dappled light, giving a slight highlight effect. We were surprised how many had nests in the trees there.  If you waited for them to move around you could get shots with the sun highlighting their head. This is a series with mature and immature Black-crowned Night-herons. They are one of my favorite herons to photograph because of how they are often hidden in the vegetation and their animated action when catching a meal. Also they are more seclusive and a challenge to get uncluttered images of them. There were also large amounts of other Herons, Egrets and Spoonbills. I also believe you can get there early and pay extra to get in early to photograph on the boardwalk.

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Rain Drops on Leaves -8 Image Stack

After it rained again, I went out looking for rain drops. This time I used an old manual Canon FD 200mm f/4 macro with a m43 adapter on a Panasonic m43 camera body. The old FD lenses work well on the m43 cameras. Plus I have quite a few left from the film days. Makes it, sort of in easy terms, a 400mm f/4 macro in Full Frame Digital thinking on the m43 format, with the depth of field of a 200mm. There are more exacting ways to figure out the exact focal length, f/stop, and depth of field, but it is easier to just double the focal length and be close. Also unless you know the exact focal length of the lens, not what it is listed as, you are going to be wrong in the first place. Most lenses are not the focal length they are listed at, the true focal length is a little shorter usually from what they describe them as. Especially Telephoto Lenses. Also in the Electronic viewfinder, you see the depth of field you are achieving live. Stopping down the lens, you see your depth of field. There has been a lot of debates on lens conversions on m43 cameras, but it is not worth the effort to me.

RainDrops_3_8img stk v1 lay1

First of the 8 images, showing the distortion Photoshop did to help align all the layers in the stack. When Photoshop is compressing them into 1 blended file, it will automatically fill in blank areas with what it thinks it needs. Sometimes it works Great. Other times it needs a few touchups.

RainDrops_3_8img stk lay8

Last Image (#8) in Series

The above aligned images are showing the manipulation of the areas of the start and last images using Auto-Align. Next when you choose Auto Blend, Photoshop will remove areas from each layer not used, usually the out of focus areas, selecting the areas more in focus and blending all into an image and placing it on the top layer above the other layers.

Sometimes it works very well, sometimes Photoshop just cannot handle it. Or they might need a little touchup here or there. There are other programs that might be better, but I am just doing these for fun and I am used to using PhotoShop.



Polarized Ice

Photographing ice over the weekend and found this piece of ice on a small branch in the water. We tried a few shots and then noticed that adding a polarizing filter added a rainbow of colors in the ice. It might be a little overdone, but I thought it was still interesting. Sometimes you just have to experiment and try different ways to photograph your subjects. You never know what you might come up with. Canon EOS 1D MkIV with Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DO lens.

Alternate versions

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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

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

Shoot the Moon

I always look at a full moon and say, I have to photograph the full moon. But usually something comes up that stops me from doing just that. This time I persisted and did a quick few shots. I used a Canon 1D MkIV with the Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens with a Canon 1.4 Series III teleconverter, which give an effective focal length of 728mm @ f/5.6 between 1.3X crop camera body and the 1.4X teleconverter. I used manual exposure and used an exposure of 1/500 sec @ f/8, ISO 400. I underexposed just a little and brought it up in photoshop to hold details. I wanted to use f/11 or f/16, but I was handholding the camera and wanted a fast shutter speed for a crisper image. This post came about because it will be a full moon on Dec 17 and I started thinking I have to try again with a longer lens and try to do better this time and bring a tripod. Give it a try.

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

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.





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.

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