An Artists Communion Through A Lens

Wild

Secret Garden – Mangi!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus) on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Cary North, Carolina  – Sept. 15th. 2010


Secret Garden

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus) on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Cary North, Carolina  – Sept. 9th. 2010


Lazy Hazy Day In August

Woke from a couch nap to see this siesta on our deck rail.  Had complete empathy.   Double pane glass door and screen between us so focus is a little soft, in addition to the soft, diffuse light of open shade.  They are necessarily ever alert so I waited until he closed his eye which told the story better.   Removed some light branches in the background to keep attention on the main idea. Click on the image for full size.IMGP7808Gear used in this post: Pentax K3II camera, Pentax 50-135/2.8 lens + Kenko 1.5x Teleconvertor

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro


Tattered

This is the second year in a row I’ve made a photograph of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail  Butterfly with tattered wings on August 5th.  There was no plan or intention.  It was simply the coincidence of us both being ragged from July in North Carolina. In my case, I needed relief from air conditioned cabin fever.  My shutter speed was too slow for the light breeze and it was entirely my fault.  Too much time indoors.           _IMG7012

 


High, Low and Long

Our Butterfly Bush is getting sparse and so are the Butterflies it attracts.  And I’ve been scaring off the visitors with my presence.  A perfect Red Spotted Purple was gone in a moment this morning, just as I approached.  I wanted to try standing off with my longest lens at 300mm + 1.5x Teleconvertor for a total of 450mm.  Trade offs are 6′ minimum focus distance and f22.  Depth of Field would only be about a 1/2″ at 6 Feet, 3/4″at 8 ft..

Other than a few Skippers and Carpenter Bees, the only visitor for the better part of an hour was a Blue Dasher Dragonfly.  The good news is, you have a chance to establish focus because they land and stay still.  The bad news is,  trying to hold focus by hand at 450mm with all that weight and mass and not much DoF is wildly optimistic.  In hindsight, I’d have been on a tripod with a loose ball head but didn’t because I expected to be moving around and though it would be too slow to frame & focus.  Of course, had I been on tripod, butterflies would have shown up and I’d have flailed around like part of a 3 Stooges routine.

1. Dragonfly: Top lit, mid-day sun, hard light, high contrast, high key

001 100-300 + TC 6097

2. Dragonfly: Top lit, mid-day sun, hard light, high contrast, low key

002 100-300 + TC 6094_1

My model did cooperate in that he gave me two lighting setups, one high key and one low key.  In this case, the model moved (flew) so the background changed.  The last time I did this was a portrait session.  We finished the high key on white with soft light (umbrellas) and switched out the background to black and went to hard light (bare flash)  with snoots.

Exposure was easy.  Lens at f22 but actually f32 due to a 1 stop loss from the TC.  Lots of light, so Sunny 16 as a baseline.  Plenty of shutter speed to help with the really long lens, varying a stop or two, depending on open shade or pointed at sky.  Moved ISO between 400 & 800, shutter speed between 1/800 and 1/1000 sec..  Of the two images I kept, one was a stop over and the other a stop under but both in the ballpark.  At relatively low ISO’s, plenty of Dynamic Range with RAW files, easy to recover and keep image quality.

One other camera feature I rarely use was shutter burst mode.  Today, I’d establish focus and fire 3 or 4 frames, trying to compensate for my movement.  I have in body stabilization, so that helped.  Out of 112, I kept these two. Pushing thing as I was, it’s tough to handhold and you won’t do it for long.  And I just remembered my monopod!

Gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Sigma 100-300/4 lens,  Kenko 1.5x TC.

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro


Mea Culpa, Soggy Bee and Circular Polarizer

In my last post, I innocently but wrongly identified a Carpenter Bee as a Bumble Bee.  Seeing him today, after a soaking rain, raised a doubt. A Google search confirmed it.  And I found it was a male.  They can’t sting.

1. Dry Carpenter Bee: Side lit with flash, hard light, high contrast 002 28-75 + TC + flash 4638

2. Wet Carpenter Bee: Ambient, reflector fill camera left, soft light,medium contrast002 28-75 + TC + cpl 4654

Outside today was damp and overcast.  I used the same camera setup as last time except instead of flash, I took a small collapsible reflector. I’d never tried to light Butterflies et al with a reflector. Also, I added a Circular Polarizer Filter to my lens to cut down glare.  I rarely use one but it’s a great help with glare from wet vegetation.

Exposure was a little tricky.  The heavy overcast was 3 stops from a Sunny 16 Day or EV 12.  I was also losing two more stops from the teleconverter and the Circular Polarizer.  Usually not a problem with an f2.8 lens but I also needed a small aperture, like f16, for a usable Depth of Field.  If I set my lens for f16, I was effectively getting f32. My ISO would be too high and shutter speed too slow for a good image.

The practical solution was an exposure triangle compromise, taking a little from each variable to get a workable exposure.  I set aperture for f5.6 (f11 with TC & filter), pushed ISO to 1600 and set shutter to 1/180.  To get more DoF, I stood farther away. That trade off was getting less of the subject to fill the frame. It’s a balancing act.  ISO 1600 is okay for a good print, I can generally get a sharp image at shutter 1/180.

The Bee was where I left him the day before.  Which surprised me. He was barely moving so I could use the reflector to add some fill, a little sparkle.  I was careful not to blow out the white part between the eyes.  That’s how you know its a male.

Photo gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Tamron 28-75/2.8 lens,  Kenko 1.5x TC, 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter, small Impact Collapsible Reflector

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro