Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hitting Limits

European Wool Carder Bee IV
It's been a while since I've blogged about macro photography, and truth be told it's been a while since I've help a camera in my hand. It's not the first time I've taken a break, but this one seems to be the longest I've gone without getting "macro withdraws". I've hit a couple of road blocks that have kept the camera in the bag. The first, and I think foremost, is "what's next?". I've been pushing the limits of what I can do with the camera and the subjects I shoot, and I have images that are truly unique compared to what I see in the amateur macro community.

Feeding Chafer Beetle

Feeding Honeybee VIII

Finger Fed Bumblebee

But after a while my gallery seems to just be repetitive, and I don't like taking the same shot over and over any more than you enjoy seeing them. So part of the problem is just an issue of inspiration. What can I do next that's going to keep my gallery fresh? I haven't found the answer to that one yet.

I thought about getting into focus stacking, but then I'd lose the ability to take "action shots" like the images above. Plus I just don't see the challenge in photographing something that doesn't move. Granted I'd get more detail, but I really don't think that detail is a problem even with my "diffraction limited" macro photography:

European Wool Carder Bee VII

Over the years I've come to realize that the quality of the light I'm using has a really big impact on the level of detail in my images. A lot of texture data can get lost due to light that creates too much micro contrast. In addition the better the light quality the more I can push my images in post, and for me everything from what I do with the camera to what I do in post is connected. It's unfortunate that the main stream media has projected the impression that post processing is just for correcting mistakes, instead of post just being a normal part of the the photographic process. You have to develop your "film" and it doesn't matter if the negative is a piece of celluloid or a RAW file.

Light is the one area where I've really hit a hard wall. Due to my style of shooting I have to use Canon's MT-24EX because it's the only flash that gives me the balance I need for hand holding the camera while chasing semi-active to hyperactive subjects. I also benefit from the close working distances at life size and higher magnification since the diffusion of the light gets better the closer the diffuser is to the subject, and getting the flash close also helps to keep the duration of the light as short as possible so that I can freeze a lot of motion. But the short distance between flash and subject limits what I can do to diffuse the flash, and I've pretty much taken the MT-24EX as far as it can go.

Sadly the MT-24EX is the only Canon flash that has not been updated, and I'm hoping that they do in fact come out with a better version of it.

My macro journey isn't over and if I can come up with something unique I'll post some abstract work this winter. Just wanted to let you know that I'm still here, but just finding inspiration a little difficult at the moment.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Published in the July issue of Digital SLR Photography Magazine

Mason Bee Series 1-3
I maintain several galleries, and although I've had a 500px gallery for quite a while I wasn't keeping it up to date. Just too many places to post an image to already. But after one of the editors gave me an editor's choice award for one of my photos I decided that I'd push some more images up to the site. While I was uploading photos one of the editors for Digital SLR Photography Magazine contacted me about publishing four of my images in the Portfolio section of the magazine. Three of the images would appear on a page with a short paragraph to describe them, and then a fourth photo would be printed full page (the image of a Mason Bee in the upper right hand side of this post). At roughly the same time that I was working on the text for the images my 500px gallery took off, and I'm not sure why. But over a weekend I had over two thousand new followers and it's been growing by over three hundred a day. As of this post there are over 13,500 people following my work at 500px!

Special thanks to Mr. Jordan Butters, contributing editor for Digital SLR Photography Magazine, for such a great opportunity!

Update 10 July 2016: I've passed the 25 thousand followers mark at 500px :)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Products that work: Eyelead Camera Sensor Cleaning Kit

I don't do reviews because there are plenty of sites out there that do and I have no intention of competing with them. I also do not want vendors sending me kit for a favorable review (happens more often than you know). But I do want to pass along the things that I've used that have worked really well and for sensor cleaning I haven't found anything better than the Eyelead Camera Sensor Cleaning Kit. No links that line my pocket with your money -if you want to know more then off to the Google with you. I will leave you with a video that was done my The Fstoppers:

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Get My Good Side
I'm not sure why, but just today over two hundred people have started following me at 500px. Update: Since I wrote the original post less than two days ago over a thousand additional people are now following me and I still have no idea why.

To all of my new followers "Welcome!" and I hope you enjoy my work :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Nesting Miner Bee Deconstruction

Nesting Miner Bee
Miner Bees get their name from their nesting habits. They build tunnels underground, usually in sandy soil, with tunnels branching off of the main entrance where the females make egg chambers. I've seen images of them emerging from their nests but I've never been lucky enough to take my own photos of it. That changed today when I spotted a female Miner Bee dive straight down to the ground right in front of me while I was out in the yard with my camera. The area where she was nesting was in the sun and I needed to cut all of the natural light out so I could use the flash as the only light source to help freeze motion. So I set up a large flower pot close to the hole to give me some shade, laid down on the ground with the camera ready, and waited. As she popped her head up the image above popped into my head but I wasn't at an angle where I could get it. I'd re-position only to spook her into going back into the nest. Eventually she got use to me and I had to act quickly to take the shot. Once any nesting bee gets acclimated to me they won't site still for long, and in fact she took off not long after I took the photo.

The Butcher's Bill

I spent about 36 minutes shooting the Miner Bee and took 85 frames. I have a few images that I might post later, but none as good as the one with this post. Sometime when I'm shooting it feels like fun, but this time she made me work for the shot I wanted :)