Archive for the ‘nature’ category

Photo of the Day: Climbing to the Top

May 10, 2008

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80

F-Stop: f/8
Focal Length: 105 mm
Exposure Bias: -0.3ev
Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100

Untitled, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

I’m a horrible insect photographer in that I really don’t take much interest in my subjects aside from how they look. I really couldn’t care less as to what their life cycles are, how they breed, what they eat, or what their scientific name is. Yeah, I know, it’s blasphemous, but it’s how I operate.

This level of disinterest is brought about by the fact that, well, I’m shallow. Really, I just like the way that some bugs look, particularly in the wild. That’s why I don’t bother with insect photography taken in a studio environment. Instead, I like the dynamic settings that I encounter when I go out on hikes.

I shot this last summer when I was on the road with the Red Truck Road Trip, while we were stopped over in Denver. I went on a hike with a college friend in the mountains behind her house, and the ridge features some truly spectacular views and amazing flora. Right before we headed back down the mountain, I noticed this bug atop the bush next to where we were sitting. I really liked how the pollen stood out on its legs, and I snapped off a couple of photos before it flew away. I’m not certain, but I think it’s a checkered beetle, but I’m not entirely sure. Honestly, I still just think it looks cool.

UPDATE:

Daniel Marlos, from What’s That Bug, was kind enough to help me out: the picture is of a checkered beetle, “of the family Cleridae, probably the genus Trichodes.”

Advertisements

Photo of the Day: Butterflied

May 9, 2008

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80

F-Stop: f/4.8
Focal Length: 46 mm
Exposure Bias: +0.3ev
Speed: 1/320
ISO: 800

Untitled, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

I realize that this isn’t quite macro photography, but it’s got insects. Besides, it’s my blog, so I’m allowed to change the parameters of a theme when I want to.

I shot this last year while the Saltimbanco Bus Tour was visiting the Strong Museum of Play in New York. The place is pretty cool, in all honesty. Aside from being a great kids’ museum, it also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame and an insanely large butterfly reservation.

I don’t know why, but this has been one of my favorite pictures, even though I can never point out anything that’s particularly noteworthy about the colors or lighting. There was a request for no flash photography, so I upped the exposure bias and also pumped the ISO up to 800 while we were in the reservation.

Margot, who had a habit of giving me nothing but brilliant pictures throughout my tenure as the tour’s photographer, was doing her human statue routine when a couple of the butterflies landed on her face.

Photo of the Day: Bumbling Bee

May 8, 2008

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80

F-Stop: f/3.3
Focal Length: 105 mm
Exposure Bias: -0.3ev
Speed: 1/640
ISO: 400

Untitled, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

The backstory with this photo is that this little bee happened to be the clumsiest insect I’ve ever seen. During the five minutes I spent photographing it, the bee kept on falling off the flowers it landed on. However, since I was walking around a zoo at the time, I should’ve considered the possibility that someone might’ve left out/spilled a cup of beer that the bee could have consumed some of.

Photo of the Day: Yellowjacket

May 7, 2008

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80

F-Stop: f/6.3
Focal Length: 105 mm
Exposure Bias: + 0.3ev
Speed: 1/200
ISO: 400

Untitled, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

I found this little guy whilst wandering around a farmer’s market that was near State College, PA. The market itself was located in a WWII memorial area, so there were decommissioned tanks and artillery guns all over the place. When walking around, I started off taking pictures of the textures on one of the tanks and then noticed that there were some yellowjackets crawling across certain parts of it.

I’m pretty sure I shot around 30 or 40 shots of the yellowjackets, but this one was my favorite because of all the detail that was captured in this image. When using macro lenses, I’ve often encountered difficulties with the depth of field while I’m within a foot or two of my subject. The two solutions I’ve found are to either increase the f-stop numbers or just take a step back and then crop down the photo afterwards. Thankfully, this scene was well-lit, so I was able to just do the former and achieve the results I wanted.

Photo of the Day: Intrepid Explorer

May 6, 2008

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80

F-Stop: f/9
Focal Length: 105 mm
Exposure Bias: 0
Speed: 1/320
ISO: 200

Untitled, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

I posted an edited version of this photo a while back, but it’s long been a favorite of mine in its unedited form. I found this ladybug just sitting on a daisy in our backyard when I was playing around with the new macro lens… as often is the case, my best photos tend to be the result of being in the right place at the right time.

JPG Magazine has a series of different themes with every issue, and this time around the theme is “creatures”. I submitted the above image, so if you happen to be reading this and want to vote for my photo, I’d be rather grateful.

For the rest of this week, my photos of the day are going to be focused on macro photography involving insects. I’m not sure how many of these pictures I have (well, I’ve got plenty, but I’m not sure how many good ones I have in my library), but there should be enough to supply us with a week’s worth of pictures.

Backyard Musings

May 27, 2007

Intrepid Explorer, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D100

F-Stop: f/9
Focal Length: 157 mm
Exposure Bias: 0 Shutter
Speed: 1/320
ISO: 200

Recently, I found myself wandering through my folks’ backyard, largely because I wanted to test out my new macro lens, but also because I sometimes like to look at my surroundings in a different way than I’ve gotten accustomed to. The property surrounding our house is, for lack of a better term, utterly serene (well… normally it is, but at the moment there’s a huge hole in the ground where an addition to our house is being built) and offers a lot of opportunity for quiet reflection. Yeah, I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

Macro lenses, while fantastic because they give photographers an opportunity to get closer to a subject than we normally would with a wideangle lens, take a little getting used to. My lens has a pretty limited focal area but lets me get really close to stuff; I’ve never actually been able to see individual grains of pollen. One of the big problems I’ve noticed with other people’s nature photography is that they don’t understand just how harsh the sun’s lighting can be and how that harsh light can really muck up a shot.

For this little field trip, I waited until around 4 P.M. because the sun isn’t directly overhead. As a result, the sun’s rays get refracted and create lighting situations that result in softer and more interesting shadows. This isn’t to say that you can’t overcome direct lighting if you have a speedlight or manage to use your camera’s flash creatively, but I personally love to shoot nature photos without any extra lighting because it forces me to creatively work with what I have available.

Winter Photos… Sans The Snow (Part Two)

February 12, 2007

Icicle, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80
F-Stop: f/29
Focal Length: 120 mm
Exposure Bias: —
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100

As I’ve said before, taking winter photos is a pain when you don’t have any snow to work with. My last post discussed how I finally captured a couple of interesting shots down at Donner Lake, which is near my family’s house in Truckee, CA.

The weekend before that, I simply decided to walk around our house and see what kind of wintry photos I could snag without going ambling more than 25 feet away from the building. I started out on our front deck, where a couple of sizable icicles were hanging off the roof. The main problem with photographing icicles is that they often can amplify or distort the background; this can prove to be really problematic when you just want to capture and highlight the textures of the watery stalactites. Since I was shooting photos on a sunny afternoon, I was getting a lot of colors in the background which prevented the icicles from becoming the real focus of my photos.

The solution, I realized, was easy to accomplish by doing two things: pushing up the F-stop on my camera to a rather absurd number and using my speedlight to illuminate the ice in a way which a regular flash couldn’t. I’ve often found that even in the brightest environments, putting the F-stop higher than 25 will obscure just about anything that isn’t directly illuminated by a flash of some sort. When you take a speedlight on a remote cable and set it at an interesting angle, the resulting play of shadows and light can often prove to be really dramatic.

For the above picture, I placed my speedlight directly beneath the icicle (seriously, it was about an inch outside of the camera’s field of vision) and snapped a couple of pictures. Once I’d adjusted the distance so that the actual light flash wasn’t visible, I really liked how this technique made the ice look like it was lit from within.

The other photos in this entry were from behind the house: two different pine cones I found from two entirely different angles. Neither picture was lit with a flash, nor was the ISO any higher than 100. The black and white picture was taken just beneath our deck, which provided for a rather soft light and didn’t create any harsh shadows on the cone’s exterior. I managed to snap the other picture off right when a cloud blocked out the sun and the shadows on the pine cone were suddenly a lot less extreme.

Now, if we can just get some actual snowfall, hopefully I can capture some traditional winter images.