macro 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,
Rick


Round 4: Battle of the Close-up Photography Tips: Pons vs. Sammon. Today: Add Light

Photography by Rick Sammon
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!

For Juan's tip, go to his site

Here are my tips for today: Use a ring light and use it carefully. Then, in the digital darkroom, remove any reflections that the flash tubes may have caused.

I photographed this red-eye tree frog with my Canon MR-14EX Ring Lite:

Ring lights can be costly. An alternative is the Ray Flash.

Here is a movie I made about the Ray Flash. Good fun and good product.

I like using ring lights over flashes because, by adjusting the power output of the flash tubes, you can get shadowless lighting, as well as ratio lighting. You can also get top, side and bottom lighting.

When you are working in the digital darkroom, look for reflections of the flash tubes in the subject's eyes. You can easily remove reflection with the clone stamp tool.
Photograph by Rick Sammon
Photograph by Rick Sammon
Ring lights are designed to be used on true macro lenses. I took both of the close-up photographs in this post with my Canon 100mm macro lens.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

If you like this post, please share it with a friend. All you have to do is click the twitter icon below. And don't forget, you can follow me on twitter for almost daily tips.

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.
• • •
Explore the light, 
Rick

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.

• • • 

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.

If you like this post, please share it with a friend. All you have to do is click the twitter icon below.

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.

• • •
Explore the light, 
Rick

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

Photograph of Capt. Jack by Rick Sammon

Butterfly

Photograph © Rick Sammon. All rights reserved.

I am just finishing up a new project on butterflies.

Stay tuned for info. Any guesses? :-)

For now, here is some info on this cute creature:
Precis coenia
BUCKEYE
RANGE: United States to Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas and Bermuda

Directly between the eyes of the Precis coenia is a pair of palpi that are widely thought to be used for cleaning the eyes, as they are often seen brushing across the eyes while feeding or at rest.

Camera info:
Canon 1Ds Mark II
Manual Exposure Mode
Canon 100mm Macro Lens
ISO 100
F/16.0 @ 1/60th sec.
Canon MR-14EX Ring Lite

Click here and scroll down to see a list of my gear.

Butterfly photo tip:
Add light

When adding light, a ringlight is a good choice. A ringlight fits around a lens and can provide ratio and shadowless lighting. The light from a ringlight also adds contrast to a picture, making it look sharper than a natural light photograph. I used a Canon MR-14EX ringlite on my Canon 100mm macro lens for this picture.

You could use a camera’s built-in flash, or an attached accessory flash for close-up flash pictures. If you do, you will probably get a harsh shadow in your picture – caused by directly light or because the lens or lens hood is shading the subject from the flash.

A coil cord is another option. It lets you position the flash off camera for more creative lighting than on-camera flash photography. However, harsh shadows may be undesirable.

Explore the light,
Rick