Friday, March 9, 2018

A Damp Disk

I recently tried a different technique with my macro photography.  I turned a CD upside down and lit it from the right side with a softbox.  Then I spritzed it with tiny drops of water.  The result is shown below. I think it produced a very nice image.  I hope you agree.
Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro lens, 4 sec., f/36, ISO 100

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Only Good Stink Bug . . .

I've started making close-up photos using photo stacking.  Photo stacking is a process of taking multiple shots of the same image, each with the focus at a different depth into the image, then combining them in special software to extend the depth of field.  When making extreme close-ups, this is a valuable technique to get an entire image in sharp focus.  To make the image below, I used a mechanical device known as a Stackshot, which moves the camera in tiny increments of distance so an entire image is in sharp focus.  In this case, I made 10 photos and combined them in the Helicon Focus software before importing it back into Lightroom for editing.  This was my first attempt at focus stacking, but I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.  You can judge for yourself.
Dead stink bug.  Nikon 105mm f/2.8 lens, 1 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 10 stacked images combined in Helicon Focus.
Focus stacking is not without its problems.  It's important to be sure the depth of field from each image you make overlaps the ones preceding and following it, otherwise you'll have bands of unsharpness scattered throughout the final photo.  I discovered this when trying to make a lengthwise photo of a different insect.  But there are solutions to these issues, as I am finding out through trial and error.  I plan to report on my progress in future postings.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Extreme Close-Ups

I recently purchased an extreme close-up lens, the Mitakon Zyonghi 20mm f/16 lens.  It was on sale at B+H Photo for $149, which was too much to resist.  It's a strange looking lens, as the photo indicates.
Mitakon Zyonghi 20mm macro lens
This lens is intended for extreme close-ups and magnifies from 4X to 4.5X.  To get these magnifications, you have to position the lens quite close to the subject being photographed.   As usual with extreme close-ups, focus is quite critical and it is absolutely necessary to have the camera perfectly still.  For this reason, mirror-up or Live View shooting are essential, using either the self-timer or a remote release.

The results can be quite interesting, though, as this photo of the details of peacock feather indicate.
Peacock feather detail. Mitakon Zyonghi 20mm f/16 lens, 15 sec., f/16, ISO 100
There aren't many ways to get this level of magnification other than using a specialized lens like this one.  So, if you're interested in a high degree of detail in your macro photos, you may want to consider this lens.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Close-Ups of Household Objects

One of the fun things about macro and close-up photography is there is never a lack of things to photograph around the house.  Unlike landscape photography, where you generally have to travel to a photogenic site that may be many miles or hours from home, there's plenty of material around the house to photograph. 

The photo below is a simple composition of some colored paper clips I had in my office.  No need to buy special props or go anywhere to make this photo!  I did spend some time arranging the paper clips in what I thought was a pleasing composition and I made a number of images before settling on this one.

Photographing household objects is a good way to spend the winter months, when it may be too cold and uninviting to photograph out-of-doors.

Nikon D810, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro lens, 3 sec., f/32, ISO 100, tripod.

 What do you think?  What indoors photos can you make during these wintry months?  If you made such a photo, would you hang it in your house?  Where?

Macro and close-up photography are a lot of fun.  I hope you'll give it a try.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Venture Into Macro Photography

Recently, I've gotten more deeply into macro photography.  Over the years, I've dabbled in it from time to time, but lately I've been bitten by the bug, so to speak.  I acquired a Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 micro lens (Nikon's name for macro lenses), an excellent lens that lets you shoot a respectable distance from your subject.  Not long ago, I made a field trip to a nearby vacant lot where there are a lot of thistles growing.  I made this shot into the sun so it would be backlit.  I think it shows up the structure of the thistle quite well.  What do you think?

Nikon D810, Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 micro lens, 1/640 sec., f/11, ISO 2000.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Most Recent Book, on Landscape Photography

My recently published book, Creative Composition for Landscape Photography, is available in both paperback and Kindle editions on

The cover of the paperback edition

  • This book, which includes 170 photographs, introduce a wide variety of techniques that can easily be applied to your own photography, including:
  • ·         The rule of thirds
  • ·         Centered subjects
  • ·         Positioning the horizon
  • ·         Showing depth in two dimensions
  • ·         Incorporating horizontal, curved and zigzag lines and circles
  • ·         Using triangles in compositions
  • ·         Showing perspective with receding lines
  • ·         Using framing and overlapping to show depth
  • ·         Using atmospheric layers to show distance
  • ·         Showing distance by using relative scale
  • ·         Focal length and focus point as compositional techniques
  • ·         Using lighting and texture in compositions
  • ·         Color priority and color contrast
  • ·         Single dominant elements in compositions
  • ·         Incorporating balance and weight
  • ·         Symmetry and asymmetry in compositions
  • ·         The rule of odds
  • ·         Using repeating elements
  • ·         Simplicity as a compositional technique
  • ·         Using themes as organizing principles
  • ·         Having creative fun in composition
  • ·         Combining multiple compositional elements

Written especially for beginning and intermediate landscape photographers, it includes 170 color and B&W photos along with instructional captions to illustrate the concepts presented.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Using the Lensbaby Edge 80

Part of the Lensbaby Composer Pro II kit is an 80 mm lens called the Edge 80.  It's called that because instead of having a round "sweet spot" in the center, this optic makes a creative "slice" that can be moved around the image.  When the Edge 80 is pointed straight forward, it acts as a very good 80 mm lens.  But when it's tilted to one side, the image shows a sharply focused slice surrounded by an area of blur.  How much blur there is depends on the degree to which the lens is tilted and the choice of aperture.  Where the slice is located is determined by the direction in which the lens is tilted.

The image below was made with the Edge 80.  The exposure was about 1/1000 second, ISO 100, f2.8, or wide open with this lens optic so I had maximum blur.  I positioned the slice so it ran along the lower fence and roadway, which emphasized the curvature of the fence and the S-curve of the road, while throwing the less important treeline in the background out-of-focus.  The darkening sky was also rendered fuzzy, which I think adds to the brooding quality of this image.  If I'd had this image at the time my book was being written, I'd have included it as one of the composition examples.