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Thread: Grasshopper macro

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Grasshopper macro

    This is my first photo post on this forum... Also, it's the first time I've ever posted a photo on the internet for a comment/critique! Feel free to let me know what you think. By the way, I've been away from photography for years, and now am just getting back into it. In the past few months I've done a few shoots.

    Here's a shot of a grasshopper; one is "semi-cropped" and the other is "hard cropped."

    My own comments first, so you know what I think of the photo. I'm very happy with the sharpness of the shot, and I really like the colors. The background is nice. Overall I really like this shot.

    Things I'm not thrilled about: One the bottom, more cropped shot, the flower petals above at the top are distracting a little, and I'm disappointed that the grasshopper is obscured by the center flower. Also, I wish the insect was off center more so there would be more implied "space" for it to move into, but with the symmetry of the flowers, it looked bad to crop off center. And finally, the upper right bloom is damaged, which I find distracting (some might suggest Photoshopping some of that stuff, but I'd rather not). But, that's nature and sometimes you have to take what you can get. The insect flew away shortly after the shot was taken.


    Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum) on Lupine, Cropped - Canon 30D, Sigma 150mm Macro, 1/125s @ f/4.5, ISO 100

    Less cropped:

    Grasshopper macro

    Hard crop:
    Grasshopper macro

    Thanks for any comments!

  2. #2

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    Re: Grasshopper macro

    For me, Matt, you have two options with this sort of shot. A flower which also contains an insect or a deliberate shot of the insect.

    As you only show part of the flower with stem going out of the frame in both directions I would opt for the close insect photo. It might be different if you had a full flower head plus insect.

    With regard to insect/flower positioning. I think you could crop a little tighter on the right side and bottom. This would still just retain the full flower width but have a better position balance.

    I would then clone out any remaining parts of the lower flower which might still appear on the bottom edge.

    The grasshopper has worked well, but F4.5 is rather shallow for macro photography. I usually shoot at F11 or narrower to give better focus depth. You can usually increase the Iso a little; or, I often use flash.

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    Re: Grasshopper macro

    Matt, I'd like to say that your photo is one of the better ones as it relates to the normal shot of "bugs". Yours puts the hopper into a situation that adds to the shot. Many other pictures I see are rather bland. For example, search out some photos of dragonflies. Usually a long good looking insect with a short DOF perched on a plain brown stick with no impact. Most look like they were taken for examples in a science class. Boring. Including the environment adds to the presentation and story. By the way, if you want little critters to stick around to take pictures of put them in the fridge for little awhile. Lots will sit still until they warm up again.

  4. #4
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Grasshopper macro

    Geoff, thanks for your feedback and advice. I found your comment about the full flower vs the part with stems at top and bottom to be rather insightful.

    While I agree that post processing allows us to do some really great, powerful things, I feel somewhat reluctant to do too much cloning. I guess it kind of bothers me knowing that I am altering things so much that it begins to feel "fake" to me. I think I may need to get over that if I want to create more perfect shots, because I'm sure a lot of professionals do that kind of stuff.

    Finally, I am curious about your F stop comment. The concern I have with using a smaller aperture is that the background begins to get distracting. To get the nice, soft, blurred background I think it's important to use a wider aperture. Additionally, the concern I have with using smaller apertures in macro is that you might start to get refraction. However, I need to do more testing with my specific camera and lenses to compare the quality at different apertures in macro shots. My camera isn't the best, so I like to keep the ISO on the lowest setting to reduce noise as much as possible. I also want to play with focus stacking for macro, but that can be nearly impossible if there is any movement at all.

    Thanks again for your help, it has got me thinking about a lot of things.

  5. #5
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Grasshopper macro

    Andrew, thanks for your comments. I was really lucky to discover this scene just how you see it. This was the only flower in area, and I just decided to walk over and take a look, and there was the bug. I was excited, especially since that was one of my first photo shoots after getting back into photography, and also was my first outing with my new macro lens.

  6. #6

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    Re: Grasshopper macro

    The thing to remember about macro lenses, Matt, is that your depth of field is quite shallow even at narrow apertures. Often, I find that sharp focus is under an inch even at F14. Which can cause problems with long bodied subjects like dragonflies etc unless you get a suitable angle.

    With regard to cloning of macro shots. Let me put it this way; before shooting a flower I look carefully at the scene and do a little pruning. Remove any faded or broken petals, or any which are intruding in a way which breaks the scene balance.

    The same applies to the background where I remove anything which would be excessively bright or deeply coloured. This applies to both stones and foliage etc. So I adjust the scene before shooting.

    When there is an insect on the flower I usually can't do any pre shot rearranging. Or at least I need a couple of 'safety shots' before attempting to move anything around; in case my subject flies away.

    So a little bit of slight cloning or selective adjustment of brightness levels during processing is exactly the same as I would have down; if it hadn't been for the fear of frightening my 'model'.

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