Just another Macro Monday

Sometimes when I head outside to do nature photography, a few nice shots quickly present themselves to me.  Other times, I am outside for hours and the subjects are not cooperating or I just can’t find anything that catches my eye.  3 hours had gone by after lugging around 2 cameras in a local meadow today and it looked like it was time to throw in the towel.  Low and behold, a charismatic insect in a charismatic setting was found while returning to my car.


Asian Lady Beetle atop a white blossom (probably Queen Anne’s Lace).

The above photo was taken with the Tamron SP 90mm VC Macro Lens and a Canon EOS 7D.  It is generally my preference to shoot from a tripod but when your subject is blowing from a breeze I find that a tripod can actually become an obstacle to getting the capture.  The sky had clouded over at this point in the day so I switched the exposure to full manual controls to ensure a proper bright image.  At ISO 400, which I consider my upper threshold for daytime macro shooting, I was still limited to a low shutter speed. 

Choosing a fairly large aperture of F/3.2 allowed more light to hit the camera’s sensor and provided a “dreamy” rendition of the white blossoms.  Composition-wise I thought that executing a vertical photo would create a more dynamic picture and the Beetle is in pretty good compliance with the Rule of Thirds.  I did have to shoot at least a dozen frames with the VC (Vibration Compensation) on.  1/100 of a second is not a very fast shutter speed to freeze a small fragile plant swaying in the breeze and increasing the ISO would degrade the image quality too much for my liking.  Nature photography does take a good deal of tenacity and perseverance in my opinion, but a few sharp shots a day keeps the grumpy Dave’s away.

Technique: Framing a sunrise

A fairly basic photo, but hopefully it has enough going for it to make viewers look twice.

First of all, I went to a section of the beach where I anticipated possible foreground elements to create a multi-dimensional image. I set my alarm so that I’d have some time to spare before first light came above the horizon, made sure I had my essential camera gear, grabbed a flashlight, and made the short drive over to the beach.

NJ Shore sunrise photo

Gnarled Tree and Sunrise

I walked past this interestingly twisted dead root as soon as I neared the beach, and made a mental note that I could try to incorporate it into my scene. I continued to scout around for a few minutes after that, but realized that I probably wasn’t going to be able to beat the character of the root.

I set my tripod to a pretty low level so that the widest part of the root would not converge with the horizon for this frame, and I will admit to snapping off a vertically extending portion of the root to make sure it would fit into the photo. Another important part of this photograph is the sunburst effect, which I know is generally best achieved with my lens/DSLR combo at an aperture of F/22. I’ve found that having the sunburst disperse across a solid object to help amplify the effect, and I knew that I wanted to frame the sun within a portion of the root to further draw the viewer’s focus to the sun itself. That took some fine movements of the tripod to get things just right.

I also shot some horizontal frames before the sun came above the horizon, and will upload and possibly discuss those later this week.