On 30 August 2015, I spotted a large, mutant damselfly at Huntley Meadows Park. Kidding! It’s actually a small toy damselfly finger puppet that I bought at the HMP Visitor Center gift shop last year.
I used a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter with my tripod-mounted Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera to shoot 13 focus layers, moving from front-to-back across the head and thorax of the toy damselfly. The toy was placed on an 8″ square sheet of white 1/8″ thick 40% translucent acrylic plastic. The subject was lighted from the side using a Sunpak LED-160 Video Light, and from below using a Qudos Action Waterproof Video Light for GoPro HERO by Knog. In retrospect, I should have used a third light source to illuminate the subject from the front, such as an off-camera external flash unit.
The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a relatively inexpensive solution that enables my Panasonic superzoom digital camera to be used for macro photography. Set-up is quick and easy — the filter simply clips on the front of the camera lens using a universal adapter, just like a lens cap. I use a 52mm-to-43mm step-down ring to mount the Raynox close-up filter more securely. (See “Editor’s Note” at the end of this post.)
Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding composite image and you can see the toy is a little dusty — I should have used my Giottos Rocket Blaster Dust-Removal Tool before I started shooting photos!
The Raynox DCR-250, like other close-up filters and extension tubes, reduces the minimum focusing distance between the lens and subject. Each focus layer was taken using 6/24x zoom telephoto at an estimated working distance of six-to-10 inches (~6-10″) from the subject. It’s worth noting the in-camera manual focus digital distance scale incorrectly showed the working distance was between three and six feet!
The composite image isn’t perfect. For example, the nose seems to be slightly out-of-focus in Focus Layer 1. Also notice there is some “flaring” (for lack of a better term) on the sides of the thorax shown in both Focus Layer 1 and 13 that was retained in the final version. Overall, not bad for a first effort.
Imagine how cool it would be to create a focus stacked image of a real odonate! Easier said than done. I’m exploring several solutions, one of which seems do-able in the field. In the meantime, experience gained from my “studio” experimentation should help when it’s time to photograph several odonate evuviae I have collected.
Related Resource: Focus Stacking Tutorial for the Panasonic FZ200 and Raynox Close Up Lenses, a YouTube video by Graham Houghton. Two techniques for using manual focus are described in the video. For what it’s worth, I used the second manual focus method in order to fix the camera angle/position (15:52).
Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.