Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stuck in Toronto

Could be worse... I could be stuck in {don't want to name any specific city like Regina or Buffalo or New York, at the risk of offending anyone} some other place. The bad part is, I can't get any work done, and I'm bored. I guess this is going to drag out another week, although I'm going to sneak a quick trip back home on Tuesday to take care of some stuff.

Workshops I have and will miss...
I spoke with Linda and emailed with Ron and learned that the moose workshop last week was fabulous. Believe it or not, I'm not resentful that I missed it, I'm sure I'll have another opportunity down the road. Hopefully one or both of them will share some pictures with me, so that I can share them with you. I heard both days were sunny and bright, but day 2 was blessed with a misty dawn, so I'm expecting some great pictures out of them. Mark and Dennis, you too!

I've cancelled the Workshop for this coming weekend and indicated on the website that the new scheduled dates are July 7 and August 11 weekends. I hope that works out. Again, if you know someone who wants to attend, get them to pop over to and check it out.

Do you ever watch the TED talks?
I do, from time to time, when a subject catches my eye. I have it on my RSS feed where I read blogs on my iPad. This one was particularly good and I recommend you take the 10-15 minutes to watch it. It's by someone named Juan Enriquez and it's called, "Will our kids be a different species".  If you don't know what the TED talks are all about, go here.

It's a small world, after all...
I'm really sorry, Skid. That's Jim's nickname, if you don't know him. One of the things that really bugs him is songs that stick in your head and no matter what, you can't get them to go away. That title is one of them. Sorry, Skid.

So I've always wanted to shoot macros. I looked at buying a macro lens but procrastinated for a long time. I could explain that to you, but you'll have to wait until I get around to it. I used to have some screw-in macro lens/filters but I don't want those because I think the extra glass is not a good way to go. That leaves extension tubes or, in my case a bellows.

For those who don't know, the further you move the back of your lens away from the sensor (or film plane), the closer it will focus. Extension tubes act as spacers; a bellows is an infinitely variable spacer. But because the lens is not mounted directly on the camera, autofocus and aperture adjustment don't work. You need a lens with an aperture ring, and none of mine had one! So I did a Kijiji deal in a Tim Horton's parking lot (felt like doing a drug deal!) and bought a little Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D-type lens to use with the bellows.

I can't put a picture of my setup up because I've loaned someone my P&S camera so I can't take a photo of it; and I don't want to violate anyone's copyright by stealing a picture online. So here's a link to the eBay vendor I bought the bellows from. It took about 2 weeks to get here from Singapore and cost me all of $35. This is NOT an endorsement, you understand: just a picture of what I bought.

Here's one of the very first shots I took with the bellows setup, last night. It was tough because it was getting dark and hard to see to focus.

There's nothing here to define the scale. This bud is about 2mm across and about 5mm high. The exposure was 3 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 and probably at 80mm focal length but there's no EXIF data when the lens isn't hardwired to the camera.
The challenge shooting macro is depth of field. There essentially isn't any. This next shot, with the bellows extended even more for greater magnification, is a good example of that:

I took this one this morning when there was more light, so it's the same settings except shutter speed was 1/30 second. Although there are a few things in focus, you can see that the depth of field was exceedingly shallow.
One solution is focus stacking. Shoot a series of pictures with different things in focus and have Photoshop merge them together. It's tricky and finicky, and requires a lot of planning and thought. The picture above is one of 9 exposures I did at different focusing points. Here's what Photoshop CS5.5 (I'm on the laptop, CS6 isn't installed here. Yet) can do:

I never knew that flowers and leaves had little transparent hairs.
Now if I can only catch a bumblebee or a butterfly doing his thing. Trouble is, I think the front of the lens was less than 5cm (that's 2", Yanks!) from the plant. I'll be experimenting after I eventually get home.

Another tool to add to my arsenal.

Catch you later!

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