We are nearing the end of the summer. The summer is giving us some surprises with good weather and high temperatures but fall is undoubtedly on the doorsteps. The signs of summer like butterflies and flowers are clearly on decline and the smell of fall is in the air. Normally we should see plenty of mushrooms in the beginning of summer but because of the draught they are in little numbers.
Yesterday, September 7, we visited a small forest near Haarlem called Elswout. It was a dull day with an overcast sky. An ideal situation to photograph details and macro. We searched the forest for mushrooms but found few. Luckily we found the Ramaria Fagetorum, belonging to the coral fungi group. The English name is unknown to me. This fungus is on the red list of endangered species and can only be seen in the neighborhood of birch trees which are plenty in this forest. Apart from this fungus we found many species of bracket fungus like the Sulphur Shelf.
We have to wait a little longer to see an explosion in mushroom quantities. With a little rain and with remaining high temperatures this will surely happen in the next two weeks.
The year 2013 is a good year for butterflies according to official announcements. I cannot tell because I only just discovered the beauty of butterflies and started to be interested in them. To the same announcement, this year is still incomparable to the years in the previous century. The numbers are still in decline.
This week I went photographing with the intend to capture butterflies in the morning. The weather was perfect, no wind, an overcast sky and a little damp. Butterflies need dry their wings to be able to fly. Therefor it takes time to warm themselves and they can be easily approached. First I could not find a single butterfly but all of a sudden they seem to appear from the dark of the night. In the grassy land beside a flower field I could see tens but not in many different sorts. A lot of Common Blues and some Common Copper species.
I hand held the camera for flexibility, which is not the common thing to do for me. 99% Of the shots I take are from a tripod. I like to slow down when I take the shots and there is no better way doing this by working from a tripod. I set the camera on aperture preference and made many shots. Most of the shots are good for the garbage bin but some of them are well worth keeping.
This week I’ve been to a meeting of photographers in “Photographers Café Woerden”. This initiative was setup by some enthusiast photographers and has spread rapidly over the Netherlands trough Facebook. This week I had my first session and I loved the informal meeting. There was a speaker about the future of photography, an exhibition and the possibility to present your portfolio. I took a selection of five photos with me to present, a few B&W’s and some color images printed on Baryt paper. Especially the B&W’s were received very well and it made me think! I still feel that I’m a landscape photographer but with a latent interest in B&W.
Now that I have a 100mm Macro lens, I decided to do something with the encouragement and make some studies in B&W with flowers and plants. I have searched for distinct structures in the floral world and came up with some preliminary studies. The search will be continued and the best will be printed on art paper for my portfolio.
To be continued…
Last week I've bought a new 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. The first attempts in macro are made but the experience is that it is not an easy thing to do. The upcoming period a lot of hours will be spend to gain experience. The switch from wide open spaces with the 16-35mm to the macro world is quit a big one. The way you look at the landscape is totally different.
The reason of buying the macro lens is that I want to expand my photography on days the light is not as good for landscapes and switch to macro. Too many times I stopped when my fellow photographer Jan went on making pictures.
One of the better macro pictures I made today is with this blog post. I’m quite pleased with the result but must say the shot is a bit of a lucky shot. Focusing is very critical and not easy. I used a magnifying eye piece to get the sharpness on the eyes but the slight wind spoiled the shot all too often. So, what I learned is that you need absolute wind still weather. To help the process I ordered a Wimberley Plamp, a Focusing Rail from Really Right Stuff and a L-bracket also from Really Right Stuff to easily switch from landscape to portrait orientation. The plamp is to hold grip on the flower to reduce wind movement. The focusing rail will make it easy to focus with small increment steps and also to make focus stacking possible. Focus stacking is a technique to make several shots with the same settings and move the camera with little steps between every shot. In post-production these individual shots are combined to one shot for a bigger focus depth. This technique will only work with static objects.
This spot I visited a few weeks earlier. The light was harsh but I could see the potential for a good shot. To make advantage of good quality light I had to be there early in the morning. The signs were good this week, almost no wind and a good change on ground mist. The later stood not completely up to the expectations but still, the morning was almost perfect. On my way to this spot a saw a lot of dear and rabbits. Upon arrival I quickly made my composition and made the shot. The first shot of the series was the best due to visible mist on the lake. When the sun rose the mist disappeared and it became cloudy.
Shot taken at approx. 05:35 hrs in the morning. Gitzo GT5542LS tripod with Acra-Swiss P0 ball head. Canon 5DII with 16-35mm lens at ISO 100, 16mm, f/14, 2/3 stop over exposure, Lee 0.6 grad filter, live view for accurate composition and cable release.