Several wet flies

Started Sep 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
gardenersassistant
Contributing MemberPosts: 964
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Re: Experiment with stacked 150 and 250
In reply to Macromeds, Oct 4, 2012

No preview now????? Oh dear, that is very bad news. And the Firefox spellchecker now doesn't work in the editor.  How does quoting work now? I have no idea how this is going to come out. Anyway ...

Macromeds wrote:

> What lens are you mounting them on?

Panasonic 45-175X, a lens with a very bad reputation in some quarters because of double-image/soft-image issues at shutter speeds of between 1/60 and 1/200 or so. I use these sorts of speeds a lot, with flash and with available light, but I am not aware of suffering from it. It didn't show up in controlled tests that I did - but my failure rate is so high in normal use that I could conceivably be suffering from it and not notice it. Don't think so though.

Macromeds wrote:

> When the wind blows can be a good time to catch images you can't otherwise get but you have to use the technique, Dalantech coined it 'the left hand brace technique' - something like that, whereby you hold the platform the bug is perched on with free hand, resting the tip of lens on same hand, to effectively bring both camera and bug to the same relatively stable platform.

I've read about the technique and tried it, but I didn't have any success with it with my bridge cameras. With my current camera and technique the thumb and index finger of my left hand stay on the zoom ring, which I use a lot to get different framings/magnifications of a particular subject, so I don't have free fingers with which to grip the platform the subject is on.  With the bridge camera the zoom was operated with the right index finger, so at least I could rearrange my left hand grip to try the technique. But there were other issues as I recall - frightening off the subject, transmitting finger-tremble to the platform, not having a suitable edge etc to grip, working distance too big to be able to reach, e.g. with the 500D, fingers getting into the shot - I put much more context into many of my shots than most macro-takers.

Macromeds wrote:

> And if you dial SS for a slight underexposure of BG you will get the motion stopping power of flash - and the shorter the flash pulse the sharper the image.

Very interesting subject. I find it is a balancing act. I could just ensure that the flash is the dominant light source, and thus freeze the subject with good sharpness. However, this tends to make my backgrounds ugly (to my eye). I don't like overly dark areas in my backgrounds, and because my images are "further out" and have a greater proportion of foliage etc, my backgrounds tend to have more distant areas in them rather than just comprising the platform on which the subject is standing. So I use high ISOs and slower shutter speeds as needed to bring up background by increasing the contribution of the available light. And even if I keep the available light element of the exposure a couple of stops beneath the "natural" (available light ony) exposure level, I reckon I can still lose a lot of the "flash-freezing" effect.

I think the reason it is a balancing act for me has to do with my visual preferences. I have the impression that most macro-takers are very enthusiastic about sharpness, and details, and are quite happy to have superb detail even if only within a fairly narrow "slice" of the subject. And many people seem to concentrate mainly on the subject, or parts of it.

My angle on it is a bit different. The subject tends to take up a smaller proportion of my images, and usually all of the subject is in the frame. I often use a lot of context beyond the subject. And I am content to trade off sharpness and details for colours and composition that I find pleasing. These preferences lead me to a more modest contribution from flash a lot of the time (unless of course the background is solely the platform, in which case dominant flash and low ISO are fine, and I do get the flash-freezing benefit). And it leads me back to available light.

This happened again today. It was another breezy day, and overcast, but my feeling was very much for colours and composition. I used available light almost all the time, because every time I thought “this is silly, you have to use flash in these conditions”, and tried using flash, the magic disappeared from the images. So I ended up with ridiculous capture settings like for this one: f/22 (because that's how the dof looked best to me), ISO 800 (because that's pretty much the highest ISO I am comfortable with), and 1/10 sec, because given the f/22, ISO 800 and no flash, that is what it had to be.

Obviously, using such shutter speeds in a breeze guarantees very, very low success rates, and the best of the results are limited in sharpness and detail. But I liked the colours and the compositions I was getting sufficiently to put up with softness, less than stellar details and noise too (another trade-off issue, for another day!)

Here is a closer-in one, this time 1/20 sec. A stop faster than the previous one, but on top of the breeze, the subject was grooming, and so this was possibly an even sillier shutter speed. Here too, I can enjoy the image despite the softness, lack of detail and noise (this one did have some mild noise reduction, unlike the first one).

Incidentally, these two images might illustrate the reason I keep my left hand on the zoom ring the whole time. The first one is at minimum focal length of 45mm, and the second one at maximum focal length of 175mm. (They both used the Raynox 150). These are not actually taken from the same position, but I often do variations like these from a fixed position, with intermediate ones too such as this, so as to make a little zooming in series.

My experience suggests that "further out" images like this are quite commonly of little or no interest amongst macro folk. Which is one reason I tend to refer to my stuff as "close-ups" to avoid the tiresome arguments about what is a "real" macro.

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