Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

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Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

I'm still waiting for the time/energy to get my head around how to improve my photos (or maybe just my success rate), and whether I should invest in new equipment, but sometimes it just works...

Please still feel free to critique though! Some of my better shots end up with a black background, which I suspect is due to not having the right (technically speaking) exposure - but here I'm limited by my flash and external light levels so I'm just going to go with it... I rather like that I never know what colour the background will end up... I think there was an orange geum flower in the second pic below, but I was only focusing on the grasshopper.

And finally, the dragonfly below was a bit far away to get a great shot but I like the 'scary' shadows, which are next-door's chimney stack.

John K Veteran Member • Posts: 9,249
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Columbusrat wrote:

I'm still waiting for the time/energy to get my head around how to improve my photos (or maybe just my success rate), and whether I should invest in new equipment, but sometimes it just works...

Please still feel free to critique though! Some of my better shots end up with a black background, which I suspect is due to not having the right (technically speaking) exposure - but here I'm limited by my flash and external light levels so I'm just going to go with it... I rather like that I never know what colour the background will end up... I think there was an orange geum flower in the second pic below, but I was only focusing on the grasshopper.

And finally, the dragonfly below was a bit far away to get a great shot but I like the 'scary' shadows, which are next-door's chimney stack.

Nice set!

I think that the light in the chafer shot is a little harsh. The shadows are sharp and well defined, and the specular highlights across the ridge on the critter's face are harsh. I would say that the light either was not close enough to the subject, not large enough relative to the subject, or both. The net result is a lot of detail loss in the specular surfaces cause they will act like true mirrors, if the light is not diffused well enough, and they will return the color of the light source and not the color of the specular surface.

I like the dragon shot cause the light does look "moody".

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OP Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly
1

John K wrote:

I think that the light in the chafer shot is a little harsh. The shadows are sharp and well defined, and the specular highlights across the ridge on the critter's face are harsh. I would say that the light either was not close enough to the subject, not large enough relative to the subject, or both. The net result is a lot of detail loss in the specular surfaces cause they will act like true mirrors, if the light is not diffused well enough, and they will return the color of the light source and not the color of the specular surface.

Thank you John See, that's why I post here - non-photographic people just don't spot the areas for improvement, and keep telling me I'm too harsh when I critique myself!

I think, with that shot, I realised after taking it that my net diffuser had slipped so it was on full flash. Also, however, I'd unintentionally left the ISO on 800 rather than auto (which normally ends up as 1600) which sort-of compensated. It was in quite deep shade and either mistake on its own probably wouldn't have worked at all. I don't know what would have happened if the diffuser had been in position and ISO was on auto.

jarlrmai New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly
1

Your background is black in some shots because there is nothing close enough for the flash to reflect off adequately to expose.

Sometimes I like this style but other times not.

You can work around it in a few ways

1. Compose so that there is something in near background, not always possible but something to consider.

2. Hold something there to create a background, can work but can also be awkward to hold camera etc as well.

3. Drag the shutter by lowering the sync speed enough for natural light to expose the background, can cause odd effects if there is subject movement at all.

4. In postprocessing raise the shadows a fair amount for the background in case there is something there and then denoise that area, can work can look really bad depends on the shot.

Considering the background is something that means you are getting more advanced as a photographer.

OP Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Thank you Jarlrmi

I need to read up on dragging the shutter - I hadn't come across the term before and only have time for a quick google now. Not sure yet if it works when using a built-in flash, but I can try simply reducing the shutter speed and see what happens.

Originally I was really only after clear photos suitable for identifying the bugs in my garden so yes, I am developing. Where I'll end up I don't know - I feel I'll get bored of the 'side shot with bokeh' approach after a bit. We'll see - my main motivation is still the hunt round the borders, when everything else going on in the world fades out of existence (including my husband yelling when he trips over and nearly falls in the pond, my dog digging a 3-foot hole in the borders, my scary work deadline.....).

Oh, I'm up to 215 species so far - not including the dog!

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 3,721
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

IMHO cut the F stop  to 11- 16 and try and as others note use as much natural light where possible or very diffused flash.

A tripod, remote, observe at 10 x and wait for the lull, you can lower the ISO in correlation to the  wind speed.  I find above 5 MPH somewhat of a mugs game but with good conditions and the tripod - you can compose more at your leisure and with more thinking.

The black background does have its place yet seeing the environment gives context and as J says gives stronger full bodied DOF fwd to back - up and down.

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jarlrmai New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Yeah live subject macro can have a problem with poses, where there's only a few angles that work well because of the low DoF.

New species, colours, closeness, detail and sharpness as well as overall image quality, trying to avoid the downfalls of using a flash (harsh highlights/unnatural colour etc) is where the ground breaking is done for most of us.

OP Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Rodger in Edmonton wrote:

IMHO cut the F stop to 11- 16 and try and as others note use as much natural light where possible or very diffused flash.

A tripod, remote, observe at 10 x and wait for the lull, you can lower the ISO in correlation to the wind speed. I find above 5 MPH somewhat of a mugs game but with good conditions and the tripod - you can compose more at your leisure and with more thinking.

Thanks Roger - not very practical for me, though, as I don't know where the bugs are going to land, and as I'm using a Raynox, I have to be very close - and depth of field is tiny, so I need the aperture as small as possible. I did try a monopod to steady myself, but even the tiny movements I needed to make to get the subject in focus changed the angle so much that it disappeared altogether.

I could, of course, bait a likely-looking flower with sugar solution and wait... but I'd probably just end up with the back end of a bee while something really interesting lands on the next flower along... I really didn't choose the easiest of hobbies!

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 3,721
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Columbusrat wrote:

Rodger in Edmonton wrote:

IMHO cut the F stop to 11- 16 and try and as others note use as much natural light where possible or very diffused flash.

A tripod, remote, observe at 10 x and wait for the lull, you can lower the ISO in correlation to the wind speed. I find above 5 MPH somewhat of a mugs game but with good conditions and the tripod - you can compose more at your leisure and with more thinking.

Thanks Roger - not very practical for me, though, as I don't know where the bugs are going to land, and as I'm using a Raynox, I have to be very close - and depth of field is tiny, so I need the aperture as small as possible. I did try a monopod to steady myself, but even the tiny movements I needed to make to get the subject in focus changed the angle so much that it disappeared altogether.

I could, of course, bait a likely-looking flower with sugar solution and wait... but I'd probably just end up with the back end of a bee while something really interesting lands on the next flower along... I really didn't choose the easiest of hobbies!

Best of luck with the hand held & flash.

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OP Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Thanks again Roger. I'm sluggish in the mornings too, but if I want to up my game I'll need to be more (pun not intended) focused! I'll probably kick myself when you tell me, but what's an LW?

Rodger in Edmonton
Rodger in Edmonton Veteran Member • Posts: 3,721
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly

Columbusrat wrote:

Thanks again Roger. I'm sluggish in the mornings too, but if I want to up my game I'll need to be more (pun not intended) focused! I'll probably kick myself when you tell me, but what's an LW?

lightweight - can't be lugging a monster -  nice 2 - 3 pounder

I found I hit a wall with primary flash lighting  in macro and found it better for creative shadows etc in still life. It took far less effort to go to natural light and get a better look that to be constantly scheming diffused flash set ups

You are on a  good path, you are filling the frame with the subject,, good poses, thinking about color etc

Try some easy targets first - flowers inside where wind is no issue.

Always keep the hand held option yet be proficient in a quick tripod assault.

Spiders are easy peasy for this if I were to offer up some arachnid fodder for target practice.

A man like you would really needs a dedicated macro lens to sleep well at night - no?

What does your doctor say about this? could be .... amacroinsomnia

Best Regards, Rodger
Save Lives - Be an Organ or Stem Cell Donor.
Quaecumque vera

OP Columbusrat Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly
1

Rodger in Edmonton wrote:

lightweight - can't be lugging a monster - nice 2 - 3 pounder

Ah, thank you - yes, I do want to keep things compact (but outgrew my actual compact). Hence not wanting to get an external flash till I know it will do what I want (and first I have to work out what I want).

Try some easy targets first - flowers inside where wind is no issue.

I know, I should. And I should also practise on honey bees, as there's beehives close by and we get loads. But I have the attention span of a kitten in a butterfly farm...

Spiders are easy peasy for this if I were to offer up some arachnid fodder for target practice.

Yep, I've got a few good spider pics in the past and they are good at staying still!

A man like you would really needs a dedicated macro lens to sleep well at night - no?

What does your doctor say about this? could be .... amacroinsomnia

My doctor would say that a man like me needs urgent treatment because I'm a woman! I'm tempted to try a dedicated macro lens but need to research them more. And one big advantage of my current setup is that if I suddenly spot a butterfly several feet away, or a bird some distance off, I can whip off the macro, change the setting to P, and hopefully capture that too.

macrouser
macrouser Senior Member • Posts: 2,718
Re: Summer chafer, grasshopper, dragonfly
1

I have tried a variety of things to get macro pictures but I found that a macro lens of around 100 mm is the most useful and easy to use.  I do wish there was an FE mount macro lens with longer focus like a 150 or 200 mm.

I like the photos and am not nearly as picky as someone selling work.  Learning to get the light to work for you is very helpful.  I will use anything I can to steady the camera.  I have gone from freakishly steady to shaky all over in the last 50 years.

I can see by the antenna that a chafer is in the scarab family.

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