Archive for the ‘100mm f/2.8L IS Macro’ Category

Halema’uma’u Crater

Try and say that name without either laughing or messing up… it took us literally all afternoon to get it right. Hawaii is, of course, full of these impossible to pronounce names (the native language is a spoken language, and all renderings of it into text are purely a Western construct to begin with…) but this is one of the better ones. We left the island of Kaua’i yesterday, hopped on two 20 minute flights, and were on the island of Hawaii (not to be confused with the state itself, some refer to the island as “The Big Island” so as not to be confused) staying in a cottage literally on the border of Volcano National Park. You know you’re close when the city you are staying in is “Volcano, Hawaii”. We got up early in a (failed) attempt to beat the (other) tourists and spent the day walking the Kilauea-Iki trail, which is a ~5m hike that goes around the rim of the Kilauea-Iki volcano, and then descends down and you trek straight across the bottom of the volcano, across a Martian plane of cracked black volcanic rock. I’ve never done anything like it; it was truly an alien experience. This shot is of a “crater” nearby that is part of the vista as you look out over Kilauea-Iki. Halema’uma’u continually belches steam and SO2 gas, making it not so fun to go near but really pretty. The HDR is from pretty far away, across the crater, using the 100mm macro (one of the first on this site to use that lens, incidentally) and the accompanying Youtube video is just something fun I shot with the 16-35 while we were at the visitor’s center, which is REALLY close to the steam-belching crater. There are, of course, HDRs from that as well… to be posted later… with the other 1100-odd HDRs I’ve gotten so far. It’s great and all, but when I think of the fact that we’ve still got half the trip ahead of us… let’s just say you’ll be seeing Hawaii shots for a while 😀

Right below the frame is the crater of Kilauea-Iki; it will be featured in future HDRs in all of its pitch-black glory.

In other news, Andrew sent me some shots he took with his newly acquired set of Nikon lenses using the Canon adapter. I cannot wait to get home and mess around with 14mm on the full frame 5D! Fun and, of course, HDRs, will ensue.

Knobs and Pretty Lights

I was at Paul’s the other day and wanted to mess with the macro, and his rack of recording equipment seemed to be the perfect subject. This was originally meant to be paired with another HDR as a dual-screen wallpaper kinda thing, but I am still processing the other one and will post it at a later time or perhaps not at all; I’m having some pretty severe issues with it due to the long exposures (30 seconds) causing lots of light to bleed where I don’t want it. Wasn’t that much of an issue in this one, although I did do some pretty severe levels adjustments that purposely clipped my shadows to mitigate the hazy light (you can still see how the textured surface, which should be black, is slightly orange, and badly green in the bottom right. Oh well.) I hadn’t originally planned for the light stars and in fact I was going to shoot these at f/2.8 to go for a soft-focus on the knobs, but I’d left the camera on f/8 accidentally and upon seeing the results thought duh, this is awesome! So I went with it.

Paul has cool audio stuff and I have cool photography stuff, when you combine them, you get cool photographs of audio stuff.

More Macro Experiments

While on another shoot for Rick recently, this one in Garden Hills, I came across a small object that caught me attention as I was about to pack away my gear. This glittering statuette seemed too cool and full of detail to be missed, so I grabbed a few quick shots of it with the 100mm macro as I left. and I had the idea to do two HDRs, one with the Owl in focus, and one with the background in focus, and merge them somehow. These are the preliminary shots:

The first HDR, with the focus on the owl figure.

The second one, with focus on the background.

After making those two HDRs from the two sets of 3 brackets, I took each image into Photoshop, created two layers, and began to selectively adjust opacity and erasing in areas where I wanted to get details back, namely the owl. I left the out of focus trees at about 20% opacity over the fully in focus ones, mostly because it looked “too” fake if I just had crisp focus on both parts. This way I think it looks obviously manipulated, as I like my HDRs, but not completely fake. Looking back, I wish I could have taken a third HDR with the wall behind the owl in focus. It had a great texture and would have helped make the final look a bit less weird, I think, but I dunno… this whole close-up HDR thing is new for me! Anyway, here is what I ended up with. I really like the cobwebs, and I did not notice them at all when I was shooting. I am actually kinda glad about this, as I would probably have removed them before taking the shot.

The final edit, with crisp focus on the owl and some definition in the background, but not a distracting amount.

Sunset on the Dock

I went down to the dock at sunset tonight and braved the gnats to shoot a ton as the light changed rapidly. I got a lot, and have processed most of it, but I will add them to my “to sprinkle in later entries” pile. There was absolutely no wind, so the water was completely still allowing for great reflections. I attempted to do an HDR panorama but omigod that is going to be so much work that I don’t feel like doing unless the scene is 100% worth it and, in this case, it just wasn’t… the sun made great colors, but the sky could have used more clouds. I will eventually find something that is worth attempting this on but it will entail probably a weeks worth of time in Photomatix and Photoshop that I just don’t want to do right now. I have yet to do some star trail work, but that is in the works… I can’t guarantee if that will be HDR or not, but either way it will show up here or on my photo page. I will take some time in the near future to upload some of what I shot this morning to my “straight photography” blog; I went down the road to this garden to get some absolutely awesome macros of flowers covered with droplets of water after the rain this morning. I’ll break the “HDR only” rule and put one in this post… I have like 8 shots from tonight that I want to put up but I will limit myself to my favorite one!

Kayks, docks, oceans, and great sunsets... that's Maine! (Well, that's a lot of places that are not Atlanta anyway...)

No, this is not HDR... but isn't it awesome how the surroundings are reflected in the individual droplets of water? This is a 100% crop of the full res version; click for the whole thing!

Elephant for Sam

Here, as I promised Sam, is the second in a series of elephant pictures… this elephant is so teeny and full of awesome details that you can only see with the macro that he makes a really fun still life subject. Don’t think you’ve seen the last of him…! I used my new Trek Tech T-pod that I’ve been talking up over the past week or so to get really close on the table. The thing is awesome! Supports my 5d, batter grip, and the 100mm macro with ease, very sturdy lil’ thing. Speaking of sturdy, I also got my Pelican 1520… with all my gear inside it weighs 27lbs! I got my wish today, and we had another huge thunderstorm… but it lasted all day, and kept me inside, so it didn’t really help  me get out and shoot. Hopefully some of the weather will carry over tomorrow. The second shot is one I ran across on my computer and realized I’d never bothered to put up, partially because so much of me wants to go back and reshoot it… it was done quite a few months ago at this point, when we were really just figuring out the basics of HDR still… and I shot it in JPG! With awful framing, and the sky moved so much in between the brackets that it got all blurred and weird at the edges… but you know, I can’t deny a sky like that, and I’m not sure I want to pay another 5 dollars to get on top of the Lindberg Center parking deck; maybe if Giacomo and Andrew are back in town sometime it will be worth it. I like the way the HDR process turned what were the brake-lights of cars into black strips that resemble tire tracks. Makes it look a lot more hardcore than it is… anyway, here are the shots.

The Eeny Weeny Brass Elephant on a clay dish of some sort. He will rise again!

Yet another night HDR of the Atlanta Skyline, this time from the top of the Lindbergh Center parking deck.

My First Foray into Macro HDR

I decided to try the inevitable, combining my two current loves: my new 100mm f/2.8L macro, and, of course HDR photography. Macro HDR is harder simply because your field of view is so much narrower than a wide angle (…duh) that you end up having much fewer subjects with high contrast, as macro shots tend to be evenly lit and do not include the sky. Because of this, I decided to shoot at midday, in an area where the sun directly hit the flower but the background was in complete shade.

An HDR of a flower on my porch, done with the 100mm Macro.

That came out ok. Not the “oh wow!” that HDRs usually give me, but I do like how much punch it gives the flower. I will try more of this “straight” macro HDR stuff later. I say “straight” because of what I did tonight. I was bored, and house-locked due to the awful humidity/storms/grayness/grossness that was located outside. I wanted to make it over to the Jimmy Carter Center to shoot their rose garden and get some overall HDRs of the place, but I’m saving that for a day with good clouds… hopefully soon. Today was not that day. So, I decided to make a still life that would have the ultra high contrast I’d need for HDR, while being minute enough and having enough detail to be done with the macro. I decided that since I was bored, I would combine this with another technique I’d been considering: taking a series of macro shots from a tripod of the same scene, focusing on a different part of the image in each shot, and then editing together all of the shots in Photoshop in a way that would create an impossible depth of field. So, I shot four 3-shot brackets of the same scene, focusing on a different aspect of the scene in each bracketed set. This was the result, after (very quickly because I am tired and want to eat some ice cream) compositing them together in Photoshop:

A macro-HDR composite; 4 different HDRs with different focal planes all fused into one image.

For this, I shot an HDR focusing on the 9 in the LCD, one focusing on the upper right screw on the clock, one focusing on the America on the gold dollar, and one focusing on the teeny brass elephant. The 3 HDRs were processed with similar settings in Photomatix (not identical, I did change some things as the images varied a bit in exposures and obviously what I wanted to be in focus) and then pasted over each other one at a time and erased away with a really soft eraser.

Right off the bat, I can list some mistakes I made, almost entirely due to the fact that I had simply never done this before/wasn’t thinking ahead:

  • Shooting at f/3.5. I initially thought, oh, I am editing these together so it won’t matter. WRONG! The extreme bokeh, while nice in a single shot, impedes details when edited together. See for example, the way the coin’s “halo” intrudes in on the elephant, the way the out of focus light from the cup intrudes on both the coin and the elephant… Shooting at f/8 or even f/11 would dramatically reduce this effect and make the editing process easier.
  • Simply not shooting enough different planes of focus. I would love to be able to get more of the overall image “in focus,” in other words I wish I had shot one with the orange spot on the cup in focus, one with the lamp in focus, and one with the back of the wall in focus. The room has a great wood panelling pattern that would work well to fill all that white space. The downside of this is of course more time composing, and much more time editing them together.
  • Not looking at the clock. The time changed from 9:01 to 9:02 during the bracketing… enough said! My next attempt at this will probably be something similar but exclude the darn clock. It takes so much time between focusing on new areas and waiting for your bracketing to finish (the longer exposures at macro focal length at f/11 are going to be 10-20 seconds; I was already hitting the 1 second mark at f/3.5) that the time is bound to change.

Something else that I found interesting came up immediately, and that is the issue of the Hybrid IS that I have been praising so highly. Don’t get me wrong, it is pure awesomeness when you are handholding shots. Absolutely incredible, allowing tack sharp, 1/30sec macro shots that you just couldn’t do otherwise. But, when I had the 5D on the tripod and Live View enabled so I could accurately compose and focus my shots, I noticed something: I was being perfectly still, and yet the image was “swimming” on the viewfinder. I could hear the IS continually going, something I had noticed and liked when handholding movies, as it helps reduce the shaking of your hands. On a tripod, it seems to be too enthusiastic and correct for motion that just isn’t there. It will be good for me to keep this in mind in the future; it probably wouldnt show up at all with ultra-fast shots but when your exposure times are around the .5-1sec range, it results in very blurry images, something this lens should NEVER do. Turning it off solved my problems.

So, this was an interesting experience. I think I will try more of each side of this separately, doing macro HDRs of flowers and other things I find, and attempting to do varying planes of focus with just straight shots. If I’m feeling ambitious again I will attempt to combine them, and this time I will make sure to shoot more than I think I need, and I will do the photoshop work on my PC with the Wacom tablet instead of on my laptop, half asleep on the couch with my trackpad, bemoaning only having 4gb of ram. Anyway, just wanted to show you what I’d been experimenting with. I feel like, when implemented correctly, it will result in some awesome, totally weird images.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

So, due to circumstances beyond my control (laziness) I did not leave the Atlanta area to shoot… but I did get in my car and go to one of the best locations around for macro work. Because I was so focused on macroing everything I only had a chance to grab a few quick HDRs at the end when I found a stone wall to set my camera on… I did not want to be encumbered by my large tripod when I knew I would not need it for the macro stuff. I want to go back when I get my Trek Tek T-Pod, one of the better mini tripods I’ve ever used. Giacomo picked one up for his trip to Italy and I used it a bit before he left, its sturdy, extends fairly high for a mini, and can compress to easily fit in your pocket or backpack. Having one of those on me at all times will make getting the occasional HDR while I’m out with the macro an easy thing to do. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens recently underwent a large renovation, and as such I was only able to explore a small portion of what is there, but we now have a family membership so I can go back soon, by myself, and take all the time in the world to get the shots. Still, I managed to get a decent HDR and some really cool macro stuff, most of which I will put on my non-HDR blog tomorrow but I wanted to share the especially cool image of the dragonfly on here because, well, you can see his multifaceted eyes! I remember Giacomo spending 30 minutes trying to get a dragonfly shot out in his back yard, with the 70-200 on his 50D… He called me today from Italy and I said, “so remember you trying to get that shot of the dragonfly by your pond? well, today I was at the Botanical garden with my macro and…” at which point he interrupted me to say, “I don’t even want to know how that story ends.” To be fair though, the dragonflies he was trying to shoot were in constant motion, and I was lucky enough to find this guy sitting still while his buddies were flying all over the place.

Quick HDR I managed to grab at the Botanical Gardens in the midst of all the macro mayhem.

Full resolution shot of the dragonfly at the Gardens.

A 100% crop of the above image. Gotta love 21mp + the sharpest lens canon makes 🙂

Sunset in Kennesaw

My new macro has not left the 5D since I got it, which has prevented me from taking new HDRs… but this one, from the wedding earlier this summer out in Kennesaw, was already processed and is one of my favorite shots so I decided it was time to put it up. Something about the light here really worked for HDR, and I love the way the sun peeks over the house and through the trees, and is reflected in the windows. I have been shooting a bunch of macro stuff, and am readying a huge post to put up on the new area of this site that I’ve created but I am having HTTP Errors when uploading pictures that are currently preventing me from completing the post… hopefully an upgrade from PHP4 to PHP5 tomorrow will fix the issue. I’m too tired to deal with it right now! I am experimenting with HDR macros, but for now, here’s the shot from Kennesaw.

HDR at work in Kennesaw, GA