Thursday, July 24, 2014

Artificial light for flower detail

This evening I was inspired by the unusually nice condition of an indoor flower, and decided to photograph it using artificial light (diffused off-camera flash). I did another focus stack, this time requiring only four shots (at f/11) to get everything sharp. The background was a medium toned beige drape, but when you have control over where the light is coming from and going (and when the background is sufficiently far from the foreground) a mid-tone can be rendered as black. The inverse square law* is useful!

*The intensity of light (from a "point source") is inversely proportional to the square of the distance to the object being illuminated. Although I was using a somewhat broader source of light, the result was approximately the same. For example, points 3 times as far from the light as the subject was received roughly 1/9 as much light. With the plant already very light toned, it was easy to get enough difference for a black background rendering.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More flowers in the rain

Just a few more photos of flowers, these done Monday while the rain was falling in earnest.

And a pine:


Black-eyed Susan in the rain

The humidity was so high when I was shooting this - from directly above the subject - that I couldn't help but add some of my own rain, in the form of perspiration that landed on the camera. The flower was sheltered by the tripod-mounted camera looming over it. This is a focus stack of seven shots, life-sized on the camera sensor, so of course larger than life when viewed on a screen or printed any larger than ~1x1.5 inches (the camera sensor measures 24x36 mm).

Rudbeckia hirta, common Black-eyed Susan.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Horse feathers

Today my photo finds ended up reminding me of a Marx Brothers movie. It began with some horses. They may not seem very challenging to shoot when they're grazing, but...

...they were far away...

...this far away:

See them back near the tree line, in the light patch of hay, and to the right of that even further back in the grass? No, they're not really visible here, though in the high res original you can clearly see that they are horses. It required a long telephoto and heavy cropping to get the two images above.

Returning from my excursion to look for horses, I found an invasion of Common Grackles. I love catching the different iridescent colors as they shift in the light, mostly purple and blue in this case. I also saw one, probably immature, that was almost entirely bronze-black, without the iridescent hues.

We interrupt this feathered procession to bring you a squirrel interloper.

I managed an unobstructed shot through the tree canopy.

By far most of the action was on the ground. It's fun to try to catalog the many typical bird postures.

Young one on the left:


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Single black-eyed Susan

Here is the sole surviving black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) from a bevy that have been obliterated by unknown pests feeding on the petals.

There was a small wasp pollinating it, but shooting hand-held in the early evening light, I got only a "distant" view of it.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Raleigh monuments near the State Capitol

Here is a quick photo tour of a few of Raleigh's downtown monuments. First is the Raleigh Police Memorial to fallen officers, in front of City Hall.

"Honoring the memory and sacrifice of those who lost their lives serving the city of Raleigh"

George Washington.

Zebulon Baird Vance

Polk, Jackson, and Johnson.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Parade of water lilies and dragonflies

At the Frank Schwartz gardens Saturday, on an outing with the CNPA, I found a good variety of plants and insects to photograph. I'll start this installment with an ultra-wide angle view from just a few inches above a pond.

I was hoping to get some good photo ops with dragonflies, but they didn't become active until later in the morning, so I began by shooting various flowers.

Pac-Man has a lot of freckles.

I did not use a polarizer for this next shot. Rather, at a particular angle the blue sky reflected intensely and other areas of water were clear enough to show the bottom.

Note the effect of the slightly different perspective between the next two images.

Then some bees began to appear. This little one entered a composition I had set up showing two entire flowers, and this is cropped from that shot, so it's not as crisp as I might have liked. I like the colors and the composition though (even if I do say so myself).

At last, a dragonfly actually lit on a colorful flower!

Sometimes two is a crowd. These bees were feeding off the same two flowers, when one bee came in for a landing almost on top of the other.

Coming up are the kinds of twigs and high perches that the dragons seem to favor.

The following image of two flowers in a dark pool of water is my personal favorite of the outing.

Here's another lily in a nice setting.

There was a mass of (frog's?) eggs covering a lily pad and extending into the water. They are held together by a gelatinous matrix that proved to be a dangerous trap for a hapless dragonfly.

A good samaritan tried to rescue the dragonfly, but I fear it was doomed.

To close, a hybrid of two color varieties.