Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Playing with Macro Photography

With flowers coming into bloom, I've been curious about "close ups" on them.

Macro photography has a couple (maybe more) qualities -- at best able to produce 1:1 or greater magnification on the image sensor (traditionally 35mm x 24mm); and able to focus from a very short distance.

My EF 50mm 1.4 USM lens has a minimum focusing distance of 1-1/2' (45cm).

That is a minimum of 240cm wide x 130mm high. Here's the PhotoPills application used to calculate that:

I was poking around on Craigslist, and a very well regarded Macro lens like the Canon EF 100mm L were going for around $500 used. Hmmm. As I was continuing to research whether to spring for it and came across the alternative of using "tubes" for the same purpose.

This Kenko stacking set of tubes was $130:
Canon EOS 50D,0.05 1/20, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Some test shotsI took pretty quickly without worrying too much about exposure or getting focus perfect. Focus and lighting are two of the challenges with macro -- you're so close you often need high aperture numbers to get a sufficient depth-of-field to have a whole subject like a flower in focus. But high apertures restrict the light so often you need flash to supplement available light. (The tubes also further reduce amount of light.)

If you're really observant, you'll note I've already pushed my ISO to 3200 (the highest the camera can go) to get a shot I could handhold and not use flash to begin with. I'm actually impressed I got these shots at 1/20th!
From the 50mm lens as-is:
Canon EOS 50D,0.05 1/20, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

With 12mm tube:
Canon EOS 50D,0.05 1/20, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

With 20mm tube:
Canon EOS 50D,0.05 1/20, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

With 36mm tube:
Canon EOS 50D,0.05 1/20, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

If (and it's a bit of an if) my math is right the 36mm tube provides 0.87x magnification. The tubes can be stacked as well.

12 0.39x
20 0.55x
36 0.87x
48 1.11x
56 1.27x
68 1.51x

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Union to Exeter

8:30 appointment to have my tires rotated, so no time to get dirty early to work on the mower. Then it was such a glorious day, why waste it getting hot and dirty putting the new parts on the mower???

The Mountain Laurel Sanctuary in Union wasn't quite in full bloom, but then I found a really nice one along Kinney Hollow Road:
Canon EOS 50D,0.004 1/250, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

A 4:5 Crop of the above:

Then I found this cool dead tree further down Kinney Hollow (or whatever it becomes down near Boston Hollow):

Canon EOS 50D,0.00125 1/800, f/1.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

4:5 crop of above:

Then along Trail II in Pachaug was a cool Moutain Laurel with a Gypsy-moth killed oak in the background. This area the state had cut just before the moth outbreak, and they killed the "mother" trees that had been left at a rate of about 1 per acre while clear cutting the rest.
Canon EOS 50D,0.005 1/200, f/8, focal length 50, ISO 200

...and cropped (so I can make 8x10 prints):

Thursday, June 13, 2019

File under stuff that may mostly interest me...

Europe v. U.S. Facts & Figures:

>4 weeks of paid holiday is the legal minimum in most European countries.

2017 Average annual wage, PPP followed by average tax burden of single worker at average wage:

US: $60,558 31.7%

Germany: $47,585 49.7%

France: $43,755 47.6%

UK: $43,732 30.9%

In the 90s I worked for a French owned company (Fortune Global 50 size). One of senior managers on my site was on rotation from France, and while we were both working late one evening he commented while the salaried staff had a lot more vacation days in France, they also worked much longer days on average than their American counterparts in the company and in the end the number of hours were similar.

2017 Average family insurance plan, unsubsidized, in the U.S.: $18,764

I can't say either the numbers or my anecdotal story paint a full picture of the nuances, but when folks state "In Europe they start at four weeks of vacation!" or decry "how expensive insurance is while the NHS is free" it's important to understand there are some really fundamental differences that need to be considered to make comparisons.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Scotland, Atwood Hose, and Brown Road

Few Sunday sunset photos --

Scotland cemetery:


Brown Road, Brooklyn:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Nothing good can come of this...

It is an hour before midnight on a Friday.

I'm in my office cube.

I have Mountain and Cheetos.

And scripts to run.

Nothing good can come of this :D

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Palmer Arboretum

So thought about Old Sturbridge Village...but my knees actually feel OK today and I didn't want to over-do them, plus it was supposed to get downright hot (upper 80s) so the thought of a decent length walk wasn't appealing.

Then drove towards Tower Hill Botanic Gardens -- and from what I read the toughest stuff for photographing flowers is bright sun and wind, and I noticed there was a steady strong breeze to outright gusty winds :/ Not sure I wanted to drop $16 for admission in that case.

But on the way home decided to finally go behind the old Woodstock Town Hall to visit the Palmer Arboretum for free!

Canon EOS 50D,0.0015625 1/640, f/5.6, focal length 50, ISO 800

Canon EOS 50D,0.0015625 1/640, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

Canon EOS 50D,0.0015625 1/640, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

Canon EOS 50D,0.002 1/500, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

Canon EOS 50D,0.0008 1/1250, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

Sunny and windy? Challenge accepted :D Actually I'm really pleased how these photos did turn out for the most part.
Canon EOS 50D,0.00015625 1/6400, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 200

But you can see how it really is blowing stuff out when there is areas of sunshine between the shaded areas.
Canon EOS 50D,0.008 1/125, f/5.6, focal length 15, ISO 400

Canon EOS 50D,0.0025 1/400, f/2.8, focal length 50, ISO 400

A crop from the above photo.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Windmills & Waterfalls -- Part III

The two shots from Pachaug that "didn't make the cut" (See Windmills & Waterfalls -- Part I) -- composition was a bit off, and probably one is too soft in the back and the other too sharp.

Canon 50 D, 50mm f/1.8 lens -- 1/30, f/2.0, ISO 100
Exposure -2 in Lightroom

Canon 50 D, 50mm f/1.8 lens -- 1/50, f/8.0, ISO 800

The other thing I just realized, after Liz M. commented that the forefront of the falls looked "soft" is how depth of field is affecting these shots.

Here is a close-up from the f/5.6 shot. I was about 3 meters away, so depth of field was about 30" (I was probably a bit further away and thus a little deeper field). Focus was basically at the top of the closer dam.

Compare that to f/2.0 which had a lot of bokeh in the background, but also meant a lot more of the foreground was also out of focus, The depth of field is only 10" -- way too narrow to get the front falls to "pop" fully.

Windmills & Waterfalls -- Part II

Not quite what I want yet...but getting closer!

The original shots specs were the same:
Canon 50D 50mm 1.8 lens; 1/100 F/18 ISO 100
High Speed mode, Live View mode
Took 30 shots like this:

Used Imagemagick to create this "averaged" composite:
convert -average *.JPG converted.jpg

I also played with Canon's Digital Photography Professional 4 software which can make composites, but what I found is each photo was quickly increasing the exposure. The blades are more or less what I want, but it will be time consuming to do this -- I suspect I have to copy the current raw files, drop their exposures, and possibly make several intermediate files to combine later in order to stop overexposing.

Additionally, even though it's just a couple seconds the clouds moved enough to blur significantly -- his might be a candidate to Photoshop to keep a single background and substitute in just the composite windmill. Hmmm...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Windmills & Waterfalls -- Part 1

Pachaug Forest

Canon 50D, 50mm f/1.8 lens, f 5.6, 1/250th, ISO 800, Exposure +1 in Lightroom:

Wasn't even noticing the swirls (of course I was on my belly, my head hanging off the bridge abutment to get the camera low enough) till I got home and started developing the photos. Best perspective I could get without putting on a bathing suit, the prospect of which in a flowing brook before Memorial Day is not enticing!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cliff Manzone -- Nathan Hale Homestead Milky Way

This was recently posted on the Coventry Farmer's Market Facebook page, taken by a fellow from Bolton, Conn.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Less it seem I'm just being lazy with the garden...

So in other words ... in the 147 years of record for #Boston, April 2019 saw the most number of days of measurable precipitation at 21 breaking the previous record of 19 last set back in December 2007.

Hard to get some dry time in the garden to plant stuff and not make a muddy mess when it is raining almost every day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Playing with the flash

,,,I have to do something while waiting to do my 10 o'clock changes for work...

600EXII RT Speedlite, attached to the camera, using the default ETTL settings. (In theory I should be able to set the flash up remotely from the camera, too -- that will be for another night.

Direct on:
Canon EOS 50D,0.005 1/200, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Pointed towards ceiling:
Canon EOS 50D,0.00625 1/160, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Towards ceiling, with built-in diffuser:
Canon EOS 50D,0.00625 1/160, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Towards ceiling, with the clip-on diffuser:
Canon EOS 50D,0.00625 1/160, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Practicing with the "AEB" (Automatic Exposure Balance) on the Canon 50D, which lets me then combine a sequence of three photos into one in order to produce an "HDR" (High Dynamic Range) photo. First photo is taken at what I set the exposure to, then the camera automatically takes another under-exposed and another over-exposed, which then can be combined on my computer with the Canon tool (or Lightroom).

First three were taken at +/-2 (stops) on the exposure:

Canon EOS 50D,0.008 1/125, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Canon EOS 50D,0.002 1/500, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Canon EOS 50D,0.03333333333333333 1/30, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

And Combined:

First three were taken at +/-1 (stops) on the exposure:

Canon EOS 50D,0.005 1/200, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Canon EOS 50D,0.0025 1/400, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

Canon EOS 50D,0.01 1/100, f/1.4, focal length 50, ISO 3200

And combined -- first one I forgot to set to "auto align"; the second is the aligned version.