flower

I love it. Just to go out there, be surrounded by wildlife (read: mosquitoes, and occasionally the persistent horse- or moosefly), take pictures without being disturbed (except by mosquitoes, and occasionally the persistent horse- or moosefly)… 😀
But I’m persistent, too. And that leads to some interesting pictures every now and again. This’ll go into a few posts, since I can’t really stuff all those images into one post.

So here goes. It all started after a good rain shower…

Drops on the leaves of a plant

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm

Of course us human beings (with cameras) are the only ones nagging about a bit of water (while it’s coming down, it’s all fine and dandy when it’s done and dry outside… 😉 ). These critters don’t really give a toss.

Bumblebee

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm

Bumblebee collecting honey from the flower of a yellow aster

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm

Bumbebee sitting on a water hemlock collecting honey

D800, ISO100, 1/320 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

Bumblebee flying to a fireweed collecting honey

D800, ISO1600, 1/4000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

 

You don’t find rainbows on and under the leaves. Other colorful and not so colorful stuff you do.
This little bug(ger) was very patient and let me do my thing for about 10 minutes, before taking of. I guess it thought that after turning left, right and face front I must’ve got all there was to shoot of it. And I did.

Fly sitting on a leaf

D800, ISO1600, 1/350 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 105mm

Fly sitting on a leaf

D800, ISO400, 1/180 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 105mm

And then this weird thing… We were heading out of the woods and I happened to spot it crawling around on a leaf. Funky stuff going on in those tentacles/antennas (whatever you call them). I thought it was some sort of thing to lure or keep away other animals. It really looked like there was a maggot inside of them moving up and down. When I was keywording for stock and searched for the snail with maggot like antennas I came across the Wikipedia page where it was explained that this snail was infected with a parasite. It’s originally in bird poop, where the snail eats from and ingests the parasite. The parasite then starts to consume the snail slowly and it nestles in the tentacles, basically switching off the snails ability to determine whether it’s light or dark, so it doesn’t know whether to hide or not, thus being a nice little prey for birds, who then consume the snail including parasite, which returns to the digestive system of the bird and ends up in the bird poop, where another snail east from and ingests the parasite. Etc. etc. etc. Amazing how nature does its thing, isn’t it?

Snail infected with a parasite in its tentacles

D800, ISO400, 1/350 sec @ f/4.8, Nikkor 105mm

Another parasite, or pest, plague, if you like, is this one.

Sack of the tent caterpillar hanging under a tree trunk

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

The caterpillar makes some sort of web around the entire tree and eats it completely empty. The web is funny stuff. It feels like plastic, the kind of plastic they vacuum-wrap food and other products in, and it’s super strong. It doesn’t feel at all sticky like a spider’s web. This image doesn’t really do it justice, but the light was beautiful, especially reflecting off of the webs. Destructive as it is, it does look really pretty.

Webs of the tent caterpillar in the branches of a tree

D800, ISO200, 1/750 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 70-200mm

And then there was still this little fellow, who at first I thought was dead, but then regained consciousness and took off. I did get my pictures, though 🙂

Bumble bee on a thistle

D800, ISO800, 1/350 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

The bee photo is a focus stack of 10 images. I wanted the whole flower and the bee in focus and since the little guy played dead for awhile, it gave me all the time to get enough images to do the focus stacking.

My friend was kind enough to lend me his new Nikkor 105mm macro with VR. I have a Tamron 90mm (it’s about 8 years old, I think, and my only non-Nikkor lens) and I’ve been considering for awhile already to switch. I never got to try it out, though, even if a couple of my photographer-buddies have offered to lend it to me. This day I did give it a go, and I must honestly admit that, with the images that I shot, there’s not much difference in quality and sharpness. One clear difference is that the Nikkor focuses at least twice as fast. The Tamron really needs a clear contrast in the image for the autofocus to properly lock on. If there isn’t enough contrast, the lens keeps on searching and you get the annoying buzz of the lens zooming in and out to try to find something to focus on (and your object/subject/target will probably have left by the time you decide to switch to manual). So in terms of quality I would stick with my Tamron. The massive price of the Nikkor doesn’t justify the switch for me. I know when to autofocus and when to manually focus, so that’s no issue for me. However… If someone would have a (good as new) Nikkor for a good price up for sale, I would probably still get rid of the Tamron and buy the Nikkor.

Well… what can I say… Some things simply look better from up close…

Tulip

D800, ISO100, 1/750 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90 mm macro

Tulip

D800, ISO100, 1/750 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro

Tulip

D800, ISO100, 1/750 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro

About a year and a half ago I went through my parents’ house to see if there was something interesting to shoot. Flowers are always good, and since my mom’s pretty much an orchid magician and there’s always one blooming, there’s always a flower to photograph. However, since she manages to keep the things blooming, there’s not much turn-around in the variety of them, there’s only so much you can do without things getting the same.

So the one that I shot this time looks like this i color:

D200, ISO100, 1,5 sec @ f/11, Tamron 90mm macro, SB-800 off-camera flash

It didn’t have quite as much flowers as last time around, but that would’ve made this time’s version probably too busy.
Here’s the new version:

Orchid

D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Tamron 90mm macro, 2x off-camera SB-800

 

So last week I shot those mushrooms (of which I still don’t know what they are, help me out here, people!!), and well, yeah… Since they’re right next to my place I pass there pretty much every day. You can imagine my surprise when the other day when I passed there I saw some movement in the undergrowth.

I set up camp to lure out what was hiding, and geesh… You will NEVER guess what turned up… With a bit of patience… It’s crazy!

Smurfs

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/9.5, Nikkor 50mm, 2x off-camera SB-800

Smurfs

D700, ISO200, 1/350 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm, 2x off-camera SB-800

Smurfs

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/9.5, Nikkor 50mm, 2x off-camera SB-800

Although temperatures are dropping, it’s still fall. In all it’s glory.
I promised I’d give you some more. I’m not going for all the colorful leaves this year (yet, at least). You’ve probably seen plenty of that.
The other day, when I was driving home, I noticed a whole bunch of mushrooms in a garden patch right out front the building. Had planned to go take some pictures of it, but the weather’s been so crappy that I never got to it. Last Sunday was such a glorious fall day, though, that I finally got to go out and shoot them. Plastic garbage bag a-ready, because I was sprawled out on the wet grass on my belly, getting down and dirty, and up close and personal. I missed all the funny looks from passers-by, but that’s ok. I had some pretty cool views myself.

Mushroom

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro, 2x off-camera SB-800

Mushrooms

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/9.5, Tamron 90mm macro, 2x off-camera SB-800

But the coolest thing… shows that you should SO shoot in RAW to retain as much image detail as you possibly can… was this one:

Mushrooms

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro, off-camera SB-800

What’s so special about this, you’d probably wonder… Well, I didn’t think of it much first. It’s a funky image with the mushrooms like this and the detail “under the hood”, but when I had it open in Lightroom I noticed the mosquito. Here’s a cut-out of the original:

Cutout of the original

Partial close-up of the original

As a silhouette the mosquito isn’t all that bad either, but I opened it up in Photoshop and went to see how much detail there really was recorded in the RAW file. So with a few adjustments in exposure and curves, and a pixel-perfect mask on the mosquito

The layer mask for the mosquito and the (adjustment) layer panel in Photoshop

The layer mask for the mosquito and the (adjustment) layer panel in Photoshop

the whole thing turned out to be a surprisingly sharp image of the mosquito (lucky focusing there, I guess 😉 ). No additional sharpening has been done here. The SB-800 was lying upside down in the dirt to the left (upside down, because I wanted the flash to flash upwards under the cap of the mushroom) and I guess there was so much light bouncing back off the stem and cap of the mushroom that it lit up the mosquito completely. It almost looks like it’s transparent or something. Really cool. Anyway… Ramblings of a biased photographer.

Mushrooms with mosquito

Partial close-up of the adjusted image

By the way… If anyone knows what mushroom this is, feel free to drop me a line. I suck in recognizing plants and other vegetables and Google isn’t much help in this either 😉

When these guys come out, you know “that” time has come.
“That” time in “this” country means an abundance of colors, shapes and other goodies to take pictures of.
Other pictures will follow, I have no doubt, but for now I’m sticking to this particular (poisonous) hallucinogen: the fly agaric.

Fly agaric

D700, ISO200, 1/180 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

Fly agaric

D700, ISO1600, 1/180 sec @ f/16, Tamron 90mm macro

Oh, and have you ever wondered why they are called “fly agarics”?
I have. And I never really understood (must admit that I never really try to find out why either), but well… Here you go:

Fly agaric

D700, ISO200, 1/20 sec @ f/9.5, Tamron 90mm macro

Apparently in the early days it was used as an insecticide and it clearly works well. This bug isn’t peacefully enjoying its sunny day, it’s RIP-ing in its colorful coffin. The mushroom isn’t a flesh eater, though.

 

Flower

D700, ISO200, 1/350 sec @ f/4.5, Tamron 90mm macro

Flower

D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/4.2, Tamron 90mm macro

Flower

D700, ISO200, 1/320 sec @ f/13, Tamron 90mm macro, on-camera flash

There WERE also flowers, of course…

I had a go with the focus stacking in CS5. Works actually surprisingly well, I must say.
The procedure:
1) shoot a number of pictures with different focus points (keep aperture and exposure the same in all images)

Focus stacking images

All 6 images D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro

2) open images in Photoshop
3) Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
4) The window below will appear without the red circles (they are points of attention) and without the filenames in the middle column, but WITH the box “Blend images together” checked by default. That last one is the one you want to uncheck, because you don’t want Photoshop to flatten your image, yet, in case you want to do some adjustments yourself. Click “Add open files” to add the files you opened into the middle column. If you have more files open than the focus stacking requires, you can select and remove them from the list with the remove button.

Photomerge window in PS CS5

Photomerge window in Photoshop CS5

5) Click OK and Photoshop goes to work to put all your separate files together in one layered file.
6) Select all the layers from the layer palette and go to Edit -> Auto Blend Layers. The window below will pop up. Stack images is the default selected, and all you need to do here is…

Focus stacking screenshot

Stack images

7) click OK and Photoshop will go to work for you once again to figure out all the sharp parts in all the layers. It’s quite effective, and at least with the images I tried pretty accurate. After the work you will see something like this in your palette layer, except for the Layer 1 and Layer 2. Those I added afterward for some minor adjustments from my part still (which is why you don’t want Photoshop to blend layers together all the way in the beginning!)

Focus stacking layer palette

The layer structure after Photoshop has processed the images

The end result in my case was this:

Focus stacking

The end result after all the hard labor is done

I went out for a shoot with a friend the other day and -even if it’s more snow and winter- it’s a whole different world, like I wrote before.

Icicles

D700, ISO200, 1/1000 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Icicles

D700, ISO200, 1/350 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm