As I was fruitlessly waiting for another snowfall so that I could improve my technique to shoot individual snowflakes I was wondering what else I could photograph with my macro setup. As luck would have it I spotted vegetable seeds packets that were out on table for indoor planting next week. I have never looked at seeds from really close so I was blown away how colorful some are. In order to get decent magnification I used 21mm and 31mm extension tubes and for light I used Minolta 4 tubes ring flash with only left tube turned on.
I have finally managed to photograph individual snowflakes with DSLR camera. Years ago I have made nice images with my old Minolta attached to microscope but microscope just doesn’t work all that well with my Canon EOS, I don’t know why. For these shots I was using Minolta 50mm 1:1 macro lens with MD/EOS adapter ring and 2X macro extender, focusing rail, off-camera Speedlite in manual mode and heavy-duty Manfrotto tripod. Aperture, shutter speed and focusing were all manual. For capturing the snowflakes I used black steel chalkboard that was cooled down for few minutes in a freezer and then placed in open area on the deck. When I had few snowflakes on chalkboard I placed it under the lens that was already pre-focused. This way I had to do only minimal re-focusing when I moved the board around. As you can see on picture of my setup, it was 0°C (32°F) when I took my shots and shortly after the snow turned to rain. We have very un-usual winter here in Southern Ontario, not too many opportunities to play around with this technique.
Very wet snow.
All snowflake pictures were shot @ ISO 100, f/11@1/200, Speedlite flash with difuser@1/2 power. Macro lens extender pushed the aperture to f/22
ISO 100, 50mm 1:1 macro lens with 2X macro extender, f/16 @ 1 sec., natural light.
Last fall I was experimenting with shooting close-ups of water condensation on window pane. Since I was using macro lens at 2:1 magnification ratio (double life-size image) I can safely consider this as micro photography. At this magnification it can be a problem to get sharp focus since depth-of-field is very shallow and the water drops are half of a sphere. I had to go all the way down to f/16 with aperture to get sharp images. Because of that, focusing rail is essential for really sharp image. The photographs of water drops and set-up were done few months apart, as you can see. There is a snow on the ground on set-up pictures but looking through water drops on window pane there is very green grass .
In order to get close to window and water drops I had to place 2 legs of tripod on window sill and third leg on the floor.
This morning I took a Sunday drive to a bison farm that is only about 15 minutes out in a country. I thought that they will go to the far end of field once I got out of the car but instead they came right next to me. What surprised me is what a huge eyes they have and how tame they were, even the biggest bull didn’t show any aggressiveness at all. I will definitely return with my camera.
We got some fresh snow overnight and sun was hiding behind thin clouds creating nice defused light so I grabbed my gear and headed back to Stony Creek. The exposures are definitely lot better than first time. Lesson learned: Don’t bother taking photos in super high contrast light situations or you will spend hours fixing it in Photoshop.
Here are some photographs I took along local small creek. It was beautiful sunny day so it was difficult to shoot images that didn’t have highlights blown out. After all, there is only so much you can do in Photoshop before it becomes un-natural looking. Next time I will wait for an overcast day.
We had a blizzard that dumped about 10” of wet snow on us. For two days, there was not a single track in the snow until this morning – a squirrel track. She had a really hard time to get through this snow, whole head must have been below the surface of snow.
Wherever she went she was in a big hurry, some tracks were about ten feet apart!
Actually, the moon was one day past the full moon stage because day before was cloudy, so no photos. As usual, the full moon set happens at the same time as sunrise so the light is quite dramatic. Only problem is that there is 4 full stops difference between correct exposures for the moon and for the ground. Even ND grad filters can’t compensate for such a drastic difference in light so Photoshop is the only solution to come up with a image that resembles what a human eye does see. Of course, the 1000mm lens was mounted on heavy tripod and I took one exposure for ground at f/8, 1/15 second, ISO 200 and second at f/8, 1/250 second, ISO 200. I have merged these two exposures in Photoshop Elements 10 using layer masks. There were no other enhancements made.
This is my location. Rectangle is the area I shoot with 1000mm lens. I had to remove camera from lens to take this photo with 18mm lens.
There are dozens of Amish and Mennonite farms and settlements just a short drive from Tillsonburg. In order to accommodate Amish horse & buggies every larger store, including Wal-Mart, Metro Supermarket and even Canadian Tire have erected hitching posts on their parking lots. First time I saw horse & buggy in Canadian Tire parking lot I was amused, then I realized that they were there for farm hardware. Now, we don’t even give it a second look, it is just part of living in this community. Following images were taken last Saturday, January 4th.
Sign says it all. This hitching post has seen its share of horses.
Returning from the field. I shot this through windshield of a moving car so quality is not great.
Old Amish one-room school, still in use.
Satellite view of the school – notice the baseball diamond and children playing outside.
Quaker settlers’ burying grounds.
Typical country road in Oxford County: no potholes, no bumps, just a pleasure to drive on.