Photo of the Day - November, 2020

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Apple fanboy

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That’s epic. I just snagged it for potential sky replacement in other photos.
No need. Its one of PS presets! (just kidding!)

Now I'm going to get banned for dissing @ericgtr12 photo (which is lovely BTW)!

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One from one of my daily walks.
 
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Chew Toy McCoy

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Thanks! I love macro and have been shooting macro for many years. Last year I made a big decision and traded in all my Nikon gear for Sony, and came home with a Sony A7R IV and three lenses. Two of them were macro lenses, the 50mm f/2.8 macro and the wonderful 90mm f/2.8. The 90mm all but jumped on to the camera body just about every day throughout last winter. I absolutely adore that lens! It and the 100-400mm that I bought this past June are hands-down my two top favorite lenses. One reason I made the switch to Sony was that when Nikon brought out its new Z line, there were no macro lenses even listed on the "road map" for the future. Finally now there is but at this time, still no actual macro lens for users of the Z series unless they put one of their older macro lenses on the FTZ adapter. That was something I did not want to do. I've been very pleased with my new body and lenses and don't regret the choice I made last November. It'll be a year this Saturday! :)

I love to experiment. A lot of times I don't have any definite idea in mind and will look around and pick up some random object and think, "wonder what I can do with this?" and pull together a backdrop and a surface of some sort upon which to put the item, decide what kind of lighting situation I want (sometimes Nature decides for me when it's a very cloudy or rainy day) and then I slip a macro lens on the camera (usually it's the 90mm but the 50mm gets some action every now and then as well) and away we go..... Sometimes I'll spend just a few minutes, other times an hour can slip away while I'm busy exploring the subject as I see more possibilities as I'm going along. Sometimes I'll switch out lenses, other times I may change the lighting or the backdrop or add a prop or two. With lighting, I may get fancy and add a gel or two for different color effects. I just like to have a lot of fun with this!

As for shooting critters, I tend to go for the water birds and the smaller so-called "backyard birds," and the occasional cat or dog, but rarely any other type. I think it could be a lot of fun shooting Butters! Lighting situation, shutter speed and knowledge of a particular critter's behavioral patterns is helpful when shooting wildlife or domestic pets. It is easier to control some things such as aperture and shutter speed when shooting with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera and interchangeable lens. Also some so-called "bridge" or "super-zoom" cameras with a fixed, non-removable lens can be very useful, too, and although not exactly macro lenses, can be shot at the tele end so that one zooms in on the subject from a distance, which sometimes works very nicely with skittish critters. I sometimes use my Sony RX10 IV, which has a one-inch sensor and an amazing 24-600mm (35mm equivalent) lens to create closeups or pseudo macros. One of those all-in-one cameras can be really great not only around home but also for traveling.

It's surprising how much impact one can produce in an image even without a fancy studio with soft boxes, booms and other paraphernalia, and with today's amazing iPhones, definitely one can get some neat images, too. I don't shoot with the iPhone as often as I did in the past but I do every now and then pick it up and fire off a shot when I see something interesting away from home. At home I sometimes will use it as a preview of how shooting a particular subject or in a particular way might work or might not work. In general photography IS an expensive hobby, but as many people are finding with iPhones and other cell phones it doesn't have to be.
Thanks for the detailed response. I admit I don't understand a lot of the terminology, but I appreciate the knowledge. When I did do some research it did seem to come mostly down to the available lenses even more than the actual camera, especially for macro photography. That's when things really started to narrow down. I sometimes wonder if the expense macro photography also comes down to general lack of interest, cost set by demand. I'm sure there is interest but not as much as other types of photography. I also mentioned in another discussion on the topic that lighting also seems to be a big factor, not expensive but important. I'm seen some tutorial videos with timed flashes and makeshift defusers even used in outdoor sunlight.

One thing I've noticed with insects, or at least mantids, with my limited but respectable iPhone setup is it's really for the lens to focus on the head. Body parts will come out sharp but the head is kind of blurry. It's made me wonder if that is also an issue with predators in nature, an extension of camouflage. The body parts could appear as twigs while a focused head would be a give away.
 

Clix Pix

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In shooting wildlife, always aim for the eyes. Make sure that they're in focus. With today's technology that is a lot easier than it used to be, as most of the newer dedicated cameras have "eye-aware" software so that when you're shooting a person or a family pet or a wild creature in the woods, the software will assist the camera in zooming in focus accurately on the eyes. Amazing technology that really does work! This makes a huge impact on the overall appearance of the photo and the subject.

Lighting is indeed a critical point in all photography and macro shooting is no exception. Sometime for artistic effect the photographer will deliberately underexpose to some degree, but in general, good lighting makes for good photos. Some people use flash, either an on-board flash or an external flash unit mounted in the hot shoe, or even a "ring flash" that mounts around around the lens. Others use off-camera lighting sources, which can vary from soft boxes to "beauty dishes" to something like what I have, the Westcott Ice Light 2 and a few small LED flashlights and such.... Reflectors and diffusers are very useful, and often brought into play especially when one is outdoors or has only limited resources for lighting. A reflector held off to one side of the subject can bounce back quite a nice amount of soft light which works well to add light to the side of the subject (or his or her face) which otherwise would be in too much shadow. When possible, natural lighting works really well for a lot of images and can present fewer problems than using artificial light sources.

You are right in thinking that one reason for macro lenses not being on the priority list when a manufacturer is releasing a new line is that this type of shooting is not as popular as say, landscapes or portraits, both of which use other types of lenses. Those of us who are hooked on macro shooting are REALLY hooked, though, and we want our macro lenses, by gum!!! There are various third-party macro and other types of lenses available, but I am pretty much a big fan of native lenses and prefer to use those rather than mess with adapters or lenses which have been reverse-engineered by some other manufacturer.

Methinks you might be well-served in starting to look around for a dedicated camera, either a DSLR or a mirrorless body, and a lens or two......especially now there are probably some good deals to be had either in used gear or in gear which is a bit older than the newest item in a given manufacturer's line.... For instance, Nikon has just come out with the Z6 II and Z7 II, both successors to the the Z6 and Z7, so the older bodies should be available for a reduction in price, even new. They also recently have released a couple of other new models, less expensive than the Z6 or Z7, but very capable in their own right. Actually, though, it is important to remember that the most significant purchase will not be the camera body, but the lens(es). Right now I'm happily rocking my A7R IV body, but in two or three years that body will be history and I'll be using whatever is released at that time -- but the lenses that I currently have will be just as excellent on that new body as they are on the A7R IV right now. Bodies come-and-go but lenses tend to live with you for a long, long time....
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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In shooting wildlife, always aim for the eyes. Make sure that they're in focus. With today's technology that is a lot easier than it used to be, as most of the newer dedicated cameras have "eye-aware" software so that when you're shooting a person or a family pet or a wild creature in the woods, the software will assist the camera in zooming in focus accurately on the eyes. Amazing technology that really does work! This makes a huge impact on the overall appearance of the photo and the subject.

Lighting is indeed a critical point in all photography and macro shooting is no exception. Sometime for artistic effect the photographer will deliberately underexpose to some degree, but in general, good lighting makes for good photos. Some people use flash, either an on-board flash or an external flash unit mounted in the hot shoe, or even a "ring flash" that mounts around around the lens. Others use off-camera lighting sources, which can vary from soft boxes to "beauty dishes" to something like what I have, the Westcott Ice Light 2 and a few small LED flashlights and such.... Reflectors and diffusers are very useful, and often brought into play especially when one is outdoors or has only limited resources for lighting. A reflector held off to one side of the subject can bounce back quite a nice amount of soft light which works well to add light to the side of the subject (or his or her face) which otherwise would be in too much shadow. When possible, natural lighting works really well for a lot of images and can present fewer problems than using artificial light sources.

You are right in thinking that one reason for macro lenses not being on the priority list when a manufacturer is releasing a new line is that this type of shooting is not as popular as say, landscapes or portraits, both of which use other types of lenses. Those of us who are hooked on macro shooting are REALLY hooked, though, and we want our macro lenses, by gum!!! There are various third-party macro and other types of lenses available, but I am pretty much a big fan of native lenses and prefer to use those rather than mess with adapters or lenses which have been reverse-engineered by some other manufacturer.

Methinks you might be well-served in starting to look around for a dedicated camera, either a DSLR or a mirrorless body, and a lens or two......especially now there are probably some good deals to be had either in used gear or in gear which is a bit older than the newest item in a given manufacturer's line.... For instance, Nikon has just come out with the Z6 II and Z7 II, both successors to the the Z6 and Z7, so the older bodies should be available for a reduction in price, even new. They also recently have released a couple of other new models, less expensive than the Z6 or Z7, but very capable in their own right. Actually, though, it is important to remember that the most significant purchase will not be the camera body, but the lens(es). Right now I'm happily rocking my A7R IV body, but in two or three years that body will be history and I'll be using whatever is released at that time -- but the lenses that I currently have will be just as excellent on that new body as they are on the A7R IV right now. Bodies come-and-go but lenses tend to live with you for a long, long time....
I think my mental hangup with lighting is sometimes my eyeballs like the lighting that is present but then I know at least the iPhone makes all kinds of auto adjustments that undoes that for the purpose of a better overall end result for people who don't give a shit. I couldn't tell you how many times I went to take a low light photo or video and the preview window on the iPhone is all light filled detail.

My mother, who was a photography teacher until she retired, offered to give me her camera body so I don't have to start with that purchase. I'll find out what model it is and maybe you can give me some lens advice.

Here's a shot I did with a cheap shit iPhone macro lens I did some years ago of one of my mantids. It's not the result I wanted but I think it's still interesting.

photo.jpeg
 

Clix Pix

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That would be great if your mother gives you her camera body (and maybe a lens or two as well!) That would get you off to a good start! Basically my knowledge is around Nikon SLRs, DSLRs and Sony mirrorless APS-C and FF as well as "bridge" cameras (A7R IV, NEX-7, RX100, RX10)..... So, I know about and have had experience with Nikon lenses (the F-mount ones, not the new ones with the Z series, since I have not used those) and Sony lenses.... I'm sure others on here use other systems and can also offer advice and suggestions, too. AFB uses Nikon and has a good collection of lenses so he would be a valuable resource, too!

One of the things I most appreciate about my mirrorless camera is that when I look through the electronic viewfinder (EVF) what I see is what I'm going to get, so if the lighting is too much -- overexposed -- or not sufficient -- underexposed -- I can adjust my settings to a more suitable exposure even before I press the shutter button to make the image. With an Optical Viewfinder (OVF) the same level of information is not available so that while you may be seeing the scene as it is with your naked eye through the OVF, when you make exposure adjustments that doesn't show up in the OVF so you still don't know until AFTER you have already taken the shot whether you did all with the exposure values. In the old days of DSLRs we all used to do what is called "chimping" after each shot, to check our composition and exposure by looking at the LCD screen on the back of the camera. With a mirrorless camera and EVF, no need for that any more!
 

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Nope, not on the Potomac, although I'll bet there are some who are around on some parts of it! These guys are right here in Northern Virginia, where I live! There are now about ten Hooded Mergansers in residence here for the winter -- this is our third season having them on our condo community's small (manmade lake, which is actually more of a pond). When they first showed up three years ago I had no idea what they were, had to do a Google search. They're fascinating little ducks, they can zip through the water at an amazing speed, and they also will suddenly dive under the surface to snag a fish or something else, reappearing at sometimes quite a distance from where they started out. I'll be looking out at the lake and see one Hoodie.....and then all of a sudden up will pop a second, and a third....!

We have herons, including a GBH (Great Blue Heron) whom I've named Alfred, and his fellow heron: a Green Heron and a couple of Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. We also have the usual Canada geese, of course, a few Mallards, and at least one Kingfisher. This place is wonderful all year around for enjoying wildlife, both those who are in and around the water and those with fur or feathers who are land-and-tree dwellers. Residents who live in the lake itself include frogs, turtles and various fish, including a lot of big ole bottom-feeding catfish.

Getting back to the Hoodies: Yesterday afternoon I glanced out the sliding door and saw a couple of them swimming around on the lake, so immediately grabbed the tripod and got it in position out on the deck, then mounted the camera to the Bazooka (AKA 200-600mm) with the 1.4x teleconverter also attached, and was ready to shoot..... Of course the little devils were already heading down to the foot of the lake, a pretty far distance for any decent shooting, even with 840mm! I waited patiently, and eventually a couple of people walking their dogs on the trail on each side of the lake spooked the skittish Hoodies and they started coming back towards me. The reflections in the lake were just great as we had a lot of sunshine yesterday, and the sky and the buildings around the lake make for interesting colors when the position of the sun and the overall light situation is just right. These little guys move a lot and they move quickly, so getting one at a decent angle where you can actually see the face and the all-important eye(s) can be tricky at times. Group shots aren't usually as good, as there's always someone who's got his back turned or looking another way or whatever!
 

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I think my mental hangup with lighting is sometimes my eyeballs like the lighting that is present but then I know at least the iPhone makes all kinds of auto adjustments that undoes that for the purpose of a better overall end result for people who don't give a shit. I couldn't tell you how many times I went to take a low light photo or video and the preview window on the iPhone is all light filled detail.

My mother, who was a photography teacher until she retired, offered to give me her camera body so I don't have to start with that purchase. I'll find out what model it is and maybe you can give me some lens advice.

Here's a shot I did with a cheap shit iPhone macro lens I did some years ago of one of my mantids. It's not the result I wanted but I think it's still interesting.

View attachment 1484
By decent second hand lenses rather cheap new ones. That’s my advice when it comes to purchasing equipment.
 

Clix Pix

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I second what AFB says, but also add -- buy decent NATIVE second-hand lenses, rather than some cheap third-party lens which has been reverse-engineered in order to work with a given brand. Much of the time third-party lenses just are not as good as native lenses which were made for a particular body and brand in the first place. Some third-party lenses or lenses from other manufacturers are also used with adapters, which adds yet another element into the process, and again results can be iffy or unsatisfactory. Some third-party lenses are just plain gimmicky, too, and a very little of that goes a long way (sometimes too long!) as far as I'm concerned.
 
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