close up photography

Mini-Mantis and Maxi-Mantis Macro Sessions

Photograph by Rick Sammon
June 17 - I photographed the above mini-mantis in my backyard this morning. It's one of two mini-mantises that are on the exact same bush where I photographed three adult praying mantises last summer. Looks like the eggs survived the winter. Nature sure is amazing.

You can't tell the size of these tiny creatures in a picture until a finger is included in the frame. Come August, these mantises be as long as my index finger.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
September 1 - As you can see from the shot below, the mini-mantis has grown to a maxi-mantis. Sure is fun watching wildlife!

If you like close-up photography, here are a few tips:
- Use a true macro lens. I used my 100mm Canon macro lens.
- Use a ring light for virtually shadowless (or ratio lighting). I use my Canon MR 14-EX ringlite.
- Shoot at a small aperture for good depth of field. With a macro lens, depth of field is very shallow even at f/22.
- Shoot at a wide aperture to isolate just a part of the subject, as in the photograph below of an adult praying mantis.
- Use a tripod with a ballhead for natural light portraits. My tripods are listed on my gear page.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
For more example of close-up photography, and for close-up photography tips, see my Flying Flowers (pretty pictures) and Butterfly Wonders (photo info) apps on my app page.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Speaking of a mantis, here's a photograph of mantis shrimp. I took this shot while scuba diving in Papua New Guinea. Another way-cool animal.

Explore the light,

It's Be My Guest Monday. Today's Guest Blogger: Jackie Bailey Labovitz

Today's Guest Blogger is Jackie Bailey Labovitz. Here are some of her favorite photographs, along with a few quick tips.

Take it away, Jackie.

Above: Get down on the ground - All the photos in my UNDERSTORY project, currently on view at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Naturalist Center, were taken in the belly-to-ground position.

Above: Shoot with One Lens - Your back will love you. It took ten-mile hikes every day for over a week with a 28-300mm lens to finally find this flawless pair of camera ready rare slippers. Endurance matters.

Above: Go Natural - Watch the light travel over and around the subject. Watching it hug, shun or barely touch living things otherwise untouched is mesmerizing. When it's just right, take a deep breath steady the camera and confidently press the shutter release. Revere the light.

All of the above: Enjoy the process of making pictures.

Round 2: Battle of the Close-up Photography Tips: Pons vs. Sammon. Today: Snake Eyes

Photograph by Juan Ponn
All this week: the Battle of the Close-up Photography Tips: Juan Pons vs. me! 

Hey, this is all in good fun!

Away we go!

Juan: Maintain eye level with your subject.

When photographing wildlife up close it is essential to maintain eye level with your subject. As human beings we are used to seeing the world from the 5ft - 6ft view point, so shots from this point of view oftentimes end up looking ordinary. Getting down low, up high, or sideways in order to establish eye level with your subject is a sure-fire way to establish a connection between the viewer and the subject.

By the why this is not strictly a close-up photo tip, this tip applies to just about any subject or composition that includes a subject with eyes. Sometimes you can even get a little lower than your subject to make them even more impressive.

I shot the copperhead snake above with a Canon EOS 40D and a Canon EF 180mm Macro lens at F/11 and 1/100th of a second at ISO 800. I was lying down on my belly about 8 feet away from the snake. Not something I recommend you do with a poisonous snake like this copperhead. Although I am not all that fond of snakes, this fellow was very mellow and was not threatened at all with my presence.

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Photograph by Rick Sammon
Me: I agree with Juan on both tips - as illustrated by both of these photographs. :-)

Photograph by Captain Jack Leggett
And when it comes to getting too close, you don't always need to use a true macro lens to get a nice close-up shot. I used my Canon 100-400mm IS to take the full-frame shot of the snake.

To draw more attention the subject, darken and blur the area around the subject. Also, increase the contrast of the subject, and not the surrounding area. Basically: think and work selectively.

Also, if you want to get closer than a lens allows (minimum focusing distance) use an extension tube:

When it comes to extension tubes, you get what you pay for. No doubt. Same with tele-converters - and of course lenses.

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For more info on close-up photography, and photography in general, check out my apps. Click here to start the photo fun! Juan and I developed Butterfly Wonders (which features a section on close-up photography) and Life Lesson We Can Learn From Mother Nature  together.

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Explore the light, 

P.S. Here's another shot taken during our snake shooting session. Jack! Watch out!!

Photograph of Capt. Jack by Rick Sammon

iPad App Back to School Special Sale

Well, it's back to school time once again. I can't believe how fast the summer fly by!

Many of the stores here in my neighborhood are having "back to school" sales. So, I thought it would be a good idea to put some of my apps on sale for a limited time.

Butterfly Wonders and Life Lessons We Can Learn From Mother Nature are on sale for $0.99 each.

For info on all my apps, click here.

Enjoy the fall!