July Highlights

July, the seventh month of blogging, experimenting and trying new skills and practicing old ones.

I have also brought a new lens – the Canon 28-300mm (my first white lens) and I love it and a new camera body – I am now using a canon 7D mark ii and I love it!

I have researched and experimented with some different bits of equipment, I have experimented on photoshop and Lightroom, I have been looking at lots of other people’s images and I am slowly working my way through a book all about my new camera … I have so much to learn and I am so glad that I choose to undertake this project … I feel I am learning so much about the world I live in, and about photography…

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Day 212 – 100mm lens and the Cornflower

Wow, the last day of July, and I thought I would finish with a final look at combining all my macro skills together, and how using them together can really help improve the images I create.

Todays set up:

  • Tripod,
  • 100mm lens
  • White balance cards, ruler and a cornflower

First task to set the white balance correctly. I took this image so that I could adjust the Raw files in Lightroom for accurate colour.

100mm lens, F7.1, 1/1050 sec - ISO1600 - White balance reference point
100mm lens, F7.1, 1/1050 sec – ISO1600 – White balance reference point

Next – check that it really is Macro – I know it is … but if you are not sure what a Cornflower is, I have included a ruler for reference.

100mm lens, F7.1, 1/1250 sec - ISO1600 - I A ruler for scale
100mm lens, F7.1, 1/1250 sec – ISO1600 – I A ruler for scale

I then thought about what depth of field I wanted to use:

100mm lens, F29, 1/40 sec -ISO1600
100mm lens, F29, 1/40 sec -ISO1600
100mm lens, F4, 1/2000 sec - ISO1600
100mm lens, F4, 1/2000 sec – ISO1600

There is no right or wrong answer, but I personally prefer the distracting stems in the background to be thrown out of focus, so I choose a wide aperture and a shallow depth of field, but I knew that as I moved closed I may need to increase the aperture as it becomes more shallow.

100mm lens, F4, 1/2000 sec - ISO1600 - I moved closer
100mm lens, F4, 1/2000 sec – ISO1600 – I moved closer

I moved closer, I kept thinking of my composition… it makes you realise how hard it is to find the perfect flower.

100mm lens, F7.1, 1/500 sec - ISO1600 - I moved closer again
100mm lens, F7.1, 1/500 sec – ISO1600 – I moved closer again

I moved just a tiny bit closer, and managed to get the front and the back of the flower in a soft focus so your eye is drawn to the details in the middle.

100mm lens, F7.1, 1/500 sec - ISO1600 - I moved closer again
100mm lens, F7.1, 1/500 sec – ISO1600 – I moved slightly again

Just by moving the tiniest amount, the picture has a different feel, I prefer the composition of this one, but the light area behind which has now appeared – sunlight reflecting off other leaves is distracting … however with just my 100mm lens and no extensions, it is amazing how much detail you can capture.

Day 211 – Macro with extension tubes

Following on from Day 208 … I had another look at my macro extension tubes….

Todays set up:

  • Outdoor flowers
  • A tripod
  • 100mm macro lens
  • Extension tube set.
  • Ruler

As mention on Day 197, Macro is an image that is less than 5cm in scale… today I included a ruler in some of the shots, as I wanted to retain the scale or the image and actuall see how much detail I could record. I found it hard, I had to focus manually and with such close settings it was easy to be out of focus.

In each of the images I have commented on what my set up was….

100mm lens - and a ruler to represent image size.1
100mm lens – and a ruler to represent image size.1
100mm lens - f13, 1/20 sec, ISO100
100mm lens – f13, 1/20 sec, ISO100

I love the crispness of this 100mm shot and it was able to be focused using the camera automatic settings.

100mm lens + 13mm extension tube - f13, 1/20 sec, ISO100
100mm lens + 13mm extension tube – f13, 1/20 sec, ISO100
100mm lens + 13mm extension tube - f13, 1/6 sec, ISO100
100mm lens + 13mm extension tube – f13, 1/6 sec, ISO100

Above I added my narrowest extension tube and I could move closer to the flower.

100mm lens + 21mm extension tube - f25, 1/80
100mm lens + 21mm extension tube – f25, 1/80
100mm lens + 21mm extension tube - f25, 1/25
100mm lens + 21mm extension tube – f25, 1/25

21mm extension tube and I had to move back slightly to get the focus right. I also had to increase the aperature as the shallow depth of field was too shallow for me for work with accurately.

100mm lens + 33mm extension tube - f25, 1/40
100mm lens + 33mm extension tube – f25, 1/40
100mm lens + 33mm extension tube - f25, 1/13
100mm lens + 33mm extension tube – f25, 1/13

33mm extension tube, hard to focus, but I am able to get just over 1 cm on the screen, so with time, effort, patience and a static object you can get impressively close. I think it will take time and practice to get the focusing perfect.

100mm lens + 33mm = 21mm extension tube - f25, 1/50
100mm lens + 33mm = 21mm extension tube – f25, 1/50
100mm lens + 33mm = 21mm extension tube - f25, 1/50
100mm lens + 33mm = 21mm extension tube – f25, 1/50

Above is 2 of the three extension tubes working together, I had to move back to get focus, and as you can see with the ruler it was quite hard to achieve.

Cropped image - that little insect is less than 1mm in size.
Cropped image – that little insect is less than 1mm in size.

The final image is a cropped version of the 100mm lens plus the 33mm extension tube cropped down – you can see the grains at ISO1600, but considering that little insects is smaller than 1mm in real life, it is amazing at how much detail can be captured. Maybe I will have a go with my macro tubes every now and again…. my preferred shot though are the ones with just the 100mm lens – I think the quality is better.

Day 210 – White Balance

I am still in the mood to experiment … and today I am going to let at detail at the white balance settings. I normally shoot Raw, which means I can change the white balance afterwards when I edit the images in my darkroom, but if you shoot jpg it is really important to understand what these settings mean in camera.

It is essential to get our colour balance right if you want the picture to look realistic … the auto white balance does not always do the job, so white balance cards can be an useful option to ensure you get the shot correctly edited, adn helps your images stand out from others whose images have a colour cast, as the incoreect white balance is used.

If you want to read more about colour balance – check out this helpful guide.

Today I was outside, I shot the images on a tripod with a 100mm macro lens at F2.8, ISO1600 to ensure a fast shutter speed as there was a light breeze.

Colour Balance - Manual set 2500 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 2500 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 3000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 3000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 4000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 4000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 5000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 5000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 6000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 6000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set7000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set7000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 7600 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 7600 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Manual set 9300 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Manual set 9300 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Flash
Colour Balance – Flash
Colour Balance - white florscent 4000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – white florescent 4000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Tungsten 3200 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Tungsten 3200 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Cloud 6000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Cloud 6000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Shade 7000 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Shade 7000 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Sun 5200 Kelvin
Colour Balance – Sun 5200 Kelvin
Colour Balance - Set in Lightroom with Grey Card
Colour Balance – Set in Lightroom with Grey Card

PhotoChallenge-macro experiments-1358-17

Colour Balance - Auto White Balance
Colour Balance – Auto White Balance

With all those different colour settings you can see that “Auto” was a great choice when compared with the grey card results. In more complex situations and mixed lighting a grey card is a really helpful addition.

Day 209 – Mary Poppins

Today I thought I would have a go at a simple composite image – so today I am going to be Mary Poppins, the children’s nanny who can fly over London just by raising her umbrella in the sky. I am sadly not off to London, but instead I am going to have a go at flying in my own back garden.

My set up today includes:

  • A tripod
  • 17-70mm lens – set on a wide angle
  • a remote camera release
  • Me and my umbrella!
ISO100, F8, 1/250 sec
ISO100, F8, 1/250 sec
ISO100, F8, 1/250 sec
ISO100, F8, 1/250 sec

I took the two Raw Images into LightRoom first and made some alterations. I increased the clairty, edited the exposure, and added some definition to the sky so it had some colour. I cropped them slightly and then I took the images over to Photoshop where I tidied up the messy lawn slightly, added a fake shadow, a bit of bluring, some dodge and burn after I had  joined the images together… so I can be Mary Poppins for the day …what do you think?

Composite Image with edits in Lightroom and Photoshop
Composite Image with edits in Lightroom and Photoshop

Day 208 – Teleconvertor or Extension Tube

What is the difference between a teleconvertor and an extension tube. This video explains it in just three minutes …

So to summarize: the two devices do entirely different things.

  • Extension Tube, it has no optical components. It’s role is to move the lens further away from film/sensor. This results in a “closer” focus, which makes it more ideal for macro photography. The downside is that with some extension tubes you lose AF, and with all tubes, you require more light for the exposure, as light falloff becomes an issue.
  • A teleconverter, increase the focal length of a lens. Common TC are 1.4x and 2.0 multipliers. The TC has optical elements which increases the zoom range of certain lenses (not all lenses will work with a TC). The downside is a reducing in the maximum aperture of the lens and some degradation in overall image quality. TC’s are a low-cost way to go “long” with your telephoto lenses. When you need the extra reach of a super telephoto lens, pairing a TC with an existing telephoto lens is a very economical solution, at the expense of optical quality, a darker view finder, and potentially manual focus only scenario (most bodies lose AF abilities unless the lens has a certain max aperture)

The question I want to know though is can you tell the difference. I used a 2x teleconvertor, and 3 different extension tubes (13mm, 21mm and 31mm) on my 17-70mm lens at full zoom.

17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/50sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/50sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/160sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/160sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/15 sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with extension tube, F4.5, 1/15 sec. ISO 3200
17-70mm lens with teleconvertor, F4, 1/10 sec. ISO 1600
17-70mm lens with teleconvertor, F4, 1/10 sec. ISO 1600

In all instances I had to manually focus as the lens would not do it for me. It was hard with the extension tubes as I can to get very close to the drawing pen, which actually meant the lens was almost casting a shadow. With the extension tubes the ISO was a stop more than with the teleconvertor, as there is further for the light to travel, the teleconvertor enabled me to get closer and more detail from further away – all the shots were taken with a shallow depth of field (large aperture) and I was amazed at just how shallow they were with the extension tubes.

Honest opinion…. I don’t think I will use either options often… the teleconvertor does not work on all my lens in, and on the telephoto lenses I have to be aware that I can not shoot at their widest settings as I would damage the glass, changing macro extensions I feel increases the risk of dust and dirt getting onto the sensor…. and I don’t want to do that too often, I think I prefer my macro lens solo!

Day 207 – I saw a Heron

Today on my walk I saw a Heron, I would have loved to stay and watch it, but with two dogs and one teen on a mission there really was not enough time to take advantage of another great photo opportunity.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec

On “chimping” my image – I realised that although I had deliberately over exposed the image, the most distracting aspect of the photo was the red reflection in the water. It took me a while to work out what it was, there was no red safety sign nearby and the Heron was in the middle of the nature reserve … then I realised it  was the reflection of a Union Jack flag which was on the roof of the building on the other side of the water … the only thing I could do was move my feet away, so that it was no longer in shot.

ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec

This photo was much better, but I wanted added interest … I wanted to capture the Heron doing something. He didn’t … my teen walked off with the dogs, and then got bored and wanted me to continue walking…. so I did and then you guessed it …

ISO100, F5.6, 1/640 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/640 sec

The Heron caught a fish … I was much further away, not at such a great angle – but I think the fish was a rather large eel as I had time to lift the camera, focus and take the shot. I wish I was allowed to wait it out … but on the other hand it is lovely to have company on a walk, chat and share news …. so maybe I will get another chance at this.

From my new position, I then spotted a second Heron, just watching – in the traditional “bird on a stick” pose … and I decided to capture that moment too – two heron’s on one walk, I was impressed!

ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec
ISO100, F5.6, 1/500 sec

Day 206 – New Forest Deer

Seeing the deer yesterday reminded me that I had not captured some good deer shots for a while, so today I thought I would pop over to the New Forest Deer Sanctuary at Boldrewood in the New Forest to see if I could get some new stock images for my Explore the New Forest web site and facebook page. I choose today as it was slightly overcast and this really helps, as where the sanctuary is located the deer can be sat in quite harsh sunlight making photograpy a challenge.

The deer sanctuary is a popular spot in the New Forest for visitors, there is a deer observatory platform and some when between 12.30-2.30, September to April – the deer are fed in the enclosed fields by the New Forest keepers, so that is a high chance of seeing some.

The majority of visitors stand at the viewing platform and look down on the deer that (if you are lucky) are grazing in the field beyond – there are three fields… so they are not always close to the viewing platform.

ISO800, F10, 1/200 sec
1. ISO800, F10, 1/200 sec
ISO 800, F10, 1/500 sec
2. ISO 800, F10, 1/500 sec

When visitors come and explore the New Forest, they often say they can not see any deer – sometimes you have to look closely as they are great at hiding in the grass – there are at least three deer in this photo.

ISO800, F10, 1/400sec
3. ISO800, F10, 1/400sec

I have found that the viewing platform is not necessarily the best view point, and I am amazed at home few people move their feet and walk around the area to see if they can get a better view. Today I did. he change in angle meant I was looking up into the deer fields, rather than down on them.

ISO800, 1/400 sec, F10
4. ISO800, 1/400 sec, F10

I love the natural framing of this shot – both deer are looking at me … I did have the photo buddies with me, so they were curious about them and were watching us watching them, but by moving just a tiny amount I was able to use some foliage as a natural frame.

ISO800, F10, 1/500 sec
5. ISO800, F10, 1/500 sec
ISO800, F10, 1/500 sec
6. ISO800, F10, 1/500 sec

Timing is everything. It is really easy to take lots of photos of the deer’s distinctive backside – but it is when they are looking at you that you have a much stronger shot. I was handholding the camera so that I could move quickly, and as it was cloudy today I set the ISO to 800, so that I could keep the shutter speed relatively quick and so I avoided camera shake.

IOS800, F10, 1/400 sec
7. ISO800, F10, 1/400 sec

Taking photos of the deer in the deer fields in relatively easy compared to the deer you may come across on a forest walk, like yesterday – they are still the same wild deer, but they know that the deer fields are out of bounds for humans… so when you spot one in the nearby woodland – you feel you have achieved something special.

ISO800, F10, 1/200 sec
8. ISO800, F10, 1/200 sec

It really was a lucky walk today – luckily I walk with the camera in my hand and about 2.5km further on on my walk I looked up and suddenly saw a stag in an incredible natural archway … I saw him just as he saw me … and he did not wait around for long… just long enough for these images.

ISO800, F6.3, 1/200 sec
9. ISO800, F6.3, 1/200 sec
ISO 800, F6.3, 1/250sec
10. ISO 800, F6.3, 1/250sec

My next challenge is to choose my favorite – maybe you can help me by suggesting which one below … (I have numbered them, to make it easier) and print it out … so which one would you print and why?

Day 205 – Camera at the Ready

You never know when the opportunity to take a photo will arise, and I tend to walk the dogs with my camera in hand just in case … today was a great reason to do that … if I had the camera in my bag not ready to go I would have missed today’s opportunity. I was walking in the New Forest and I came across some deer, once startled they are quick to run off into the woodland.

ISO800, F5.6, 1/400 sec
ISO800, F5.6, 1/400 sec

The deer spotted me before I spotted them and they quickly began to move from the open fire break to the trees to hide amongst the foliage and the shadows which makes them much harder to spot. Even the distant deer knew it was the time to move on.

ISO800, F5.6, 1/400sec
ISO800, F5.6, 1/400sec

My photo buddy then spotted their sudden movement, I was surprise I had spotted them first, curiosity got the better of him and he went to see what they were, which means that my photo opportunity was quickly over.

ISO800, F5.6, 1/160sec
ISO800, F5.6, 1/160sec

I was left thinking on the remainder of the walk I would spot some more deer, but only ponies today, but it was still a lovely walk and I was glad I had my camera at the ready!

ISO800, F5.6, 1/160sec
ISO800, F5.6, 1/160sec