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Thread: Red beetle macro shot

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Red beetle macro shot

    Forced myself out of bed unusually early, around sunrise, last Saturday for an early morning macro shoot. I don't do early, but I think I need to start making it a habit.

    Since I got my telephoto lens a long time ago, I've barely shot anything but wildlife / birds. Well I decided it was time to get back to other types of image making, and I am extremely happy I did it. I am telling you, I had the most fun I've had in years. I shot from 6:30am to 2:30pm straight in a row! (with breaks for snacking and such).

    I brought all the right gear and used it all, too...my new Gitzo 2541 tripod (which was the first time I've used it, and it was brilliant- lightweight, rock solid with the macro rig, really a joy to use), 7D, Sigma 150mm Macro, RRS ball head, RRS macro focusing rail, Kenko AF extension tubes, wireless shutter release, diffuser (heavy duty painter's plastic sheet, about 2 x 2 feet ), reflector (tin foil taped to cardboard again), etc and used MLU (mirror lock up). Anyway, not to bore you to death but from the very beginning of the day I really got into it and once I got on a roll, I went with it.

    I have a bunch of shots I need to edit and want to share, and I was going to put them up in sets (all insects set, all flowers, etc) but frankly I am getting antsy and just decided to throw the first shot up.

    A quick background on the shot: As the sun started to come up over the horizon, it was lighting up these beetles on grass stalks. They were warming up and started to move around a little, so I acted quickly. Set up the tripod and gear, composed...I also used a home made tinfoil reflector (hand held) to bounce some light into the shadows and define the textures...and then...the wind picked up! So the subject was swaying every which direction...I tried waiting for lulls in the breeze, and even then had to snap shot after shot, dozens of them hoping one would be in focus properly. And that's not easy when using MLU since you have to try to time everything just right.

    At 100% in LR it's not tack sharp, but close enough, given also diffraction and shallow DOF, etc. I feel it's a decent shot, probably one of my best insect macros I've ever done, and a good start for not having really put effort into macro since I was a teenager.

    C&C welcome, and am anxious to get more macro shots up soon...

    Red beetle macro shot

  2. #2
    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Well Matt at this size it looks impressively sharp and you have sufficient DOF to keep it more or less all in focus often difficult to achieve although the view point is helping here. With the gear you have and your methodical approach I expect to see many more fine macro shots from you.

    I generally don't do early either but for many types of photography and particularly landscapes dawn and dusk are the best times to be active. When we are on holiday in an interesting place my wife is constantly amazed that I can get up and disappear to take photographs before the sun is up .

  3. #3

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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    ...........I generally don't do early either but for many types of photography and particularly landscapes dawn and dusk are the best times to be active. When we are on holiday in an interesting place my wife is constantly amazed that I can get up and disappear to take photographs before the sun is up .
    ....and so say all of us but it's still a real effort.

    That's good work Matt. It's certainly sharp on my screen and the background is ideal. Looking forward to seeing some of the rest of your morning's work.

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    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Thats nice Matt, Good work.
    Think I need to make the effort myself this weekend and get out with my macro.
    Cheers, Greg

  5. #5
    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    In regards to wind, I have improvised a plamp out of an alligator clip, battery clamp, and heavy electrical wire. What I love about macro is how well it brings out the " MacGyver" in me

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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Matt, nice image. I just started to take more closeups and one issue I have struggled with is how much other stuff to include in addition to my subject and how blurry to make the background. Matt, at least for my eyes, this image is almost too clinical while I wish the background had a bit more structure. Look forward to you sharing your thoughts on the issues I've raised.

    karm

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    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Well Matt at this size it looks impressively sharp and you have sufficient DOF to keep it more or less all in focus often difficult to achieve although the view point is helping here. With the gear you have and your methodical approach I expect to see many more fine macro shots from you.

    I generally don't do early either but for many types of photography and particularly landscapes dawn and dusk are the best times to be active. When we are on holiday in an interesting place my wife is constantly amazed that I can get up and disappear to take photographs before the sun is up .
    Thank you L.Paul for comments. I appreciate the encouragement. You are quite right about the dawn/dusk thing. I've been kicking myself on the wildlife front as well since the early times are best for wildlife. Honestly, just about everything with nature is better in the early morning.

  8. #8
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Thanks John and Greg for your comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by rtbaum View Post
    In regards to wind, I have improvised a plamp out of an alligator clip, battery clamp, and heavy electrical wire. What I love about macro is how well it brings out the " MacGyver" in me
    Randy, thanks for the nice tip about the makeshift plamp. Although, quite the opposite of MacGyver, I actually just ordered a "McClamp" last night as well as some better reflectors/diffusers. I have made some of my own gear every once in a while, but most of the time I find that the gear I spend more money on that is pre-made usually serves me better than the stuff I make. Not that the painter's plastic diffuser and tin foil reflector have not done wonders for me over the years

  9. #9
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Red beetle macro shot

    Quote Originally Posted by Karm Redland View Post
    Matt, nice image. I just started to take more closeups and one issue I have struggled with is how much other stuff to include in addition to my subject and how blurry to make the background. Matt, at least for my eyes, this image is almost too clinical while I wish the background had a bit more structure. Look forward to you sharing your thoughts on the issues I've raised.

    karm
    Karm, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I know exactly what you are talking about regarding the background and the related decisions you must make (which apply not only to macro but many other types of photography).

    There was something bothering me about my photo, and I think you actually were able to pinpoint it and bring it to my attention. I would agree that the background is just a bit too clean. Let me say, I like all kinds of photos and I think a great photo is a great photo, and I don't like to generalize about things too much...however...generally I prefer wildlife / nature portraits which have a very smooth background. I tend to like a "fine art" type of look, if that makes much sense. But in the case of this photo, it is too smooth and I think it would look better with some varying tones. Not a lot, just something to break it up so it doesn't look like a solid background. Of course I had no control over this because the background was so far away the fstop would have made nary a difference.

    Thank you again for your feedback!

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