Friday, June 22, 2012

In search of Fungi!

Got my W96 LED in the mail the other day along with the velbon monopod and took opportunity of the recent rains to hunt down some fungi. The extra light was a godsend as these guys seem to grow in dim and moist areas and spring up right after the rains. Suprisingly i used the velbon monopod to angle the light moreso than on my actual camera as these guys are far too close to the ground. Luckily with the extra illumination i could bump up my shutter speeds to avoid any blurring. Ive already investing in a ring light now just to take advantage of being able to change the lighting on the fly and really paint my scenes to my liking before clicking off a shot or two.

I learnt a great deal from this site: about depth of field and its relation to sensor size and a load more. The conclusions ive come to are: Ive rarely ever used 1:1 magnification as this affords far too little depth of field - we're talking mere millimeters, so i tend to step back to 1:2/1:4 levels and even take a step back from my subject - knowing that i can crop the picture in post. This is by far the best means of getting a decent depth of field ive run into. Closing down my aperture to F22, at 1:1/1:2 levels is pointless in my experience as the change in the depth of field is barely perceptible at these magnifications - by far the best way to get a greater depth of field is to step back and crop in post.

I think a 50mm macro however would be even better - this would create an even creamier texture in the backgrounds than what i can get with the 35mm, I'd be very reluctant to move upto 105mm - i think this would mean i would be forced to use a tripod and lose the ability to shoot on the fly - quickly reframing, changing composition, it would also mean that i would have to get some sort of stand or something for my lights because of the working distance between the subject and oneself getting larger as the focal length of the lens increases. I'd be keen on using the olympus 50mm f2.0 but it goes for somewhere in the range of $400 AUD, and i really dont think the extra cash i'd have to fork out for a creamier background and little extra working distance (which in my opinion is overrated, even when working with insects - they seem to be rarely as skittish as people make out in my experience - just look at the fly in my previous post - i think i was something like less than 15cm from it and it could not care less - Click Here.) would justify the price difference. Especially since i got the olympus 35mm macro for $175 - by far the best investment ive made in any lens ive bought. Lets you play with lighting without blowing your budget because you're dealing with such small subjects and gives you pretty much everything a longer focal length would, so long as you arent picking at straws or have a very specific shot you're after.

I think ive ranted enough - ill post some pics of my kit and links to the stuff ive bought and would stand behind in short course. Heres some more shots in the meantime. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Starting series of nature based sculpts

Decided to do a series of concept sculpts based on different fauna and flora belonging to various families of species classification in the real world (i.e aquatic, avian, mammalian, insect, herbivore, invertebrate...). This is the first; based on an aquatic mammal variant, kind of a plausible Darwinian off-shoot. Still haven't pinned down the final design but i'm leaning towards the top-most - seems to be more grounded in reality than the other two. Probably move onto something from the insect family next to complement my macro leanings of late.


A day out in Sunny Corner State Forest

Took out some time to experiment with more macro - ran into some unbelievably beautiful light in Sunny Corner State Forest out near Lithgow. Unfortunately my new LED lights and monopod didnt arrive in time so i was forced to really pump up the ISO to 400+ to get some shots which brought in a manageable amount of noise, and some blur... but you live and learn...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Playing with my new Olympus 35mm Macro lens

Been playing with macro photography of late, thought i'd post some stuff on here. Shot these on my olympus e-500, and a olympus 35mm macro lens i got off ebay - was definitely worth it. Everyone keeps saying you cant shoot insects with this lens coz to get 1:1 the working distance is really really small like around 5cm - which is true, but in all honesty you rarely every use 1:1 unless you wanna like focus on a fly's eyes - usually you're framing is in the 1:1.5 or 1:2 or bigger - and ive shot even bees and flys at these distances with this lens - insects aint as skittish as you might think. And all hand held! - coz its not a higher focal length like a 105mm - you dont have to worry about shaking the lens as much and dont need a tripod on account of the shorter working distance, though i have decided to invest in a small monopod. Tripods are useless in my opinion unless you're in a studio or are using some sort of stalking tactic - like setting up a shot and putting out some bait and waiting for a bug to step in. Also because of the shorter working distance its soooo much easier to use something like a small LED light and give it direction (avoiding the flattening effect of a flash) when the sun ducks behind the clouds. The only down side to this lens i would say is that you dont get the creamy background that you would with a longer focal length, but then again if you're subject is quite a ways away from whats in the background, then you will - so... suffice it say im more than happy with the lens and its working distance and for the measly $175 i paid for it - so very very very happy.