Archive for the ‘digital photography’ Category

More experimentation with tethered shooting

August 12, 2020

Oh no! I have become the blogger who cried wolf. Yes, I’m guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. I promise to do better. Oops, I did it again! (Queue Britney Spears…)

Why tethered shooting?

In case you’re wondering what piqued my interest in tethered shooting, I was bored. I had figured out all there is to know about non-tethered shooting so I needed a new challenge. Not!

Tethered shooting enables me to quickly check composition, exposure, and focus, to name a few advantages of tethered versus non-tethered shooting — on a larger screen than the LCD on the back of my cameras.

Bear in mind, I don’t want to edit the photo files using my laptop computer (Apple 13″ MacBook Air) — I prefer to use my desktop computer (Apple 24″ iMac) for photo editing.

Latest testing

The following photos were taken by tethering my Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera to an Apple 13″ MacBook Air computer, via a TetherTools USB cable. FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO was used to save JPG files to a folder on the desktop of my MacBook Air; in turn, the JPG images were displayed in Adobe Lightroom. Both JPG and RAF files were saved to one of two memory cards in the X-T3.

Notice the difference in way these two photos were lighted. Both shots were taken using a single off-camera flash. The position of the flash resulted in more- or less dramatic light. Each shot shows something better than the other, so I was unable to choose a clear favorite. What’s your preference?

Tips and Tricks

Oh yeah, the tips and tricks I have been promising are still in the pipeline. I made some screen grabs today to illustrate the process of tethered shooting. Turns out I overlooked a critical setting so all of the graphics are useless. Doh! Can you say “Do over”?

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

As promised…

August 9, 2020

A rare weekend blog post

The following photo was taken by tethering my Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera to an Apple 13″ MacBook Air computer, via a TetherTools USB cable. Fujifilm X Aquire (free) was used to save JPG files to a folder on the desktop of my MacBook Air; both JPG and RAF files were saved to one of two memory cards in the X-T3.

Apple “Preview” was used to view the JPG files saved to my MacBook Air. Looking at larger versions of the photos than can be seen on the X-T3 LCD enabled me to position the exuvia exactly as I wanted.

Notice the left eye is overexposed slightly (as well as the farthest tip of the left middle leg), probably caused by positioning the subject too close to the white background. Hey, it’s been a while since I did much studio macro photography — I need to play myself into game shape!

More details, including some of the tips and tricks I promised, will be provided in my regularly-scheduled blog post on Monday, 10 August 2020. Please stay tuned!

The Backstory

Swift River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia illinoiensisexuvia was collected on 27 May 2017 along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

First foray into tethered shooting

August 5, 2020

My first foray into tethered shooting occurred on 01 August 2020. Although I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, I was able to successfully connect my Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera to an Apple 13″ MacBook Air computer, via a TetherTools USB cable. The screen on my laptop shows the display for the FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO (Mac) for Adobe Lightroom.

Screen display for 13″ MacBook Air.

I will backfill this post with more details about the hardware and software used to capture the following image, taken a few days after “first light.” In the meantime, I’m SO LATE in publishing my blog post for Wednesday I just want to put something out there STAT. Please revisit this post at a later time to read the updated version.

A Swift River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia illinoiensis) exuvia was collected on 27 May 2017 along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female. Notice the prominent horn on the head, a key field mark for exuviae from Family Macromiidae (Cruisers).

Ignore the bad background and quick-and-dirty lighting — this photo isn’t so much about making a good macro photo as it is the process used to make it. More later…I promise!

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Flash photography: Backlighting the background

August 3, 2020

The following annotated photo shows a recent iteration of my “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique studio macro photography rig, set up at BoG Photo Studio, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The rig has evolved since the photo was taken: On the flash used to backlight the background, I exchanged the Lastolite Ezybox Speed-lite 2 (No. 7, above) for a small altura PHOTO softbox that seems to work as well as the larger Lastolite softbox. The swap enables me to use the two larger softboxes for lighting the subject.

In my last blog post, I posed a question.

How far should should an external flash unit fitted with some type of diffuser be positioned from the backside of a translucent white plastic sheet used to create a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique? Source Credit: Flash photography: 1:1 rule-of-thumb, by Walter Sanford.

Disclaimer: The following information explains how I figured out the answer to my question. Trial and error experimentation suggests my answer is valid. Opinions to the contrary are invited and welcome.

altura PHOTO flash diffuser

Imagine an isosceles triangle with an external flash unit at Point A, shown below, pointed toward Line BC. Line BC represents the translucent white plastic sheet (No. 2, above) that I use for the background when shooting small objects such as the odonate exuvia posed on a clear plastic stage (No. 3, above). Note: The white plastic sheet is actually 12″ square. I used a value of 12.1″ because the calculator doesn’t allow me to choose 12.0″. Go figure!

In the last post, we learned that the face of the Altura softbox should be positioned at a distance of 7.8″ or less from the subject; this is the altitude of the triangle shown below. Notice that Angle A is 76 degrees. Experiment with the Isosceles Triangle calculator by moving Point A (the external flash) closer to Line BC (the backside of the background); notice that Angle A increases as the altitude of the triangle decreases.

Isosceles Triangle calculator output courtesy Math Open Reference.

Have you noticed that your external flash unit has a “Zoom” setting? It does, or it should. It would be so simple if the increments for Zoom were in angular degrees. Instead, the units are in millimeters of focal length, as in the focal length of a lens. This where the water gets muddy!

The “field of view” for a given lens is determined by the 35mm equivalent of the lens and the size of the camera sensor. The same lens has a different field of view depending upon whether it is mounted on either a full-frame or crop-sensor camera. Long story short, check the table entitled “Focal lengths with same field of view” that’s embedded in the article “Focal Length and Field of View Explained in 4 Steps” in order to determine the Zoom setting for your external flash.

As a practical matter, choose the Zoom setting for a field of view that is closest to Angle A. The Zoom setting (field of view) can be wider than Angle A but shouldn’t less than Angle A because that will cause a “hotspot” on the background.

Lastolite flash diffuser

For what it’s worth, here’s the Isosceles Triangle calculator output for the Lastolite flash diffuser shown in the photo at the beginning of this blog post. Notice the face of the flash diffuser is positioned closer than 12.2″ from the background, so Angle A will be larger than 52 degrees. Set the Zoom function accordingly.

Isosceles Triangle calculator output courtesy Math Open Reference.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Flash photography: 1:1 rule-of-thumb

July 31, 2020

As I was setting up for my first foray into tethered macro studio photography, I was reminded of the 1:1 rule-of-thumb that is used to determine how close/far to position a flash unit from the subject.

The diagonal distance across the face of a softbox should be the distance to the subject [or less] for soft wrap-around light. Actually, the distance should be as close as possible without the softbox showing in the photo frame. Greater distances will result in a contrasty look.

For example, my Altura softbox is a 6” x 5” rectangle (~7.8” diagonally) so it should be positioned ~8″ or less from the subject. Buyer beware: This distance is OK for macro photography but not OK for most other types of photography.

Product image courtesy altura PHOTO.

My Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 is 8.6″ square (~12.2″ diagonally) so the softbox should be positioned approximately 12″ or less from the subject.

Product image courtesy B&H Photo.

Online Calculators

For small softboxes like the ones shown above, the diagonal distance can be measured with a 12″ (~30 cm) ruler. For larger softboxes, it might be easier to use an online calculator to determine the distance.

Application

How far should should an external flash unit fitted with some type of diffuser be positioned from the backside of a translucent white plastic sheet used to create a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique?

As it turns out that’s a little more complicated to calculate, assuming you would rather not waste time with trial and error experimentation. Stay tuned for a follow-up post in which I will explain how I figured it out.

Related Resource: Flash photography: Backlighting the background.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Acceptable uncertainty

July 27, 2020

A teneral damselfly was spotted by Michael Powell during a photowalk with me along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

teneral: adult after it has just emerged, soft and not definitively colored. Source Credit: Glossary [of] Some Dragonfly Terms, by Dennis Paulson.

Teneral odonates, especially females, can be challenging at best to identify with certainty. And so it is with this one.

The first photo is the record shot. (Get a shot, any shot.) I think I might have just missed focus on the face.

No. 1 | 15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | teneral damselfly

Refine the shot.

No. 2 | 15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | teneral damselfly

Although this individual is definitely a member of Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies), both the genus/species and gender are somewhat uncertain.

It appears to be an Argia sp. based on long tibial spines. I think it is a male. Source Credit: Mike Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group.

For what it’s worth, Mike Powell and I saw three species of damselflies during our outing: Blue-tipped Dancer (Argia tibialis); Dusky Dancer (Argia translata); and Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta).

I’m not sure of the gender. I see what might be hamules, indicating this individual is male, but also see what looks like a female stylus (plural: styli) near the tip of the abdomen, indicating this might be a female.

Bonus Bugs and More

Look closely at Photo No. 1, the “record shot.” Notice the small orange colored insect perched along the bottom of the same rock on which the damselfly is perched. Can anyone identify Bonus Bug No. 1?

Post Update: “The fly at the [bottom] of this photo may be a black fly (Simuliidae).” Source Credit: John Smith, member “BugGuide” Facebook group.

Now look at Photo No. 2. Notice there is some type of dark insect that’s perched along the same edge of the rock as the damselfly. Can anyone identify Bonus Bug No. 2?

Post Update: “The bug at the bottom of your photo appears to be a caddisfly.” Source Credit: John Smith, member “BugGuide” Facebook group.

Also notice the dark insect is perched near what might be the exuvia from which the damselfly emerged, as shown in Photo No. 2. It’s tannish in coloration.

I didn’t see either the bonus bugs or possible exuvia when we were in the field. Of course!

Related Resource: Newly emerged damselflies, a companion blog post by Michael Powell.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Fishing spider Friday

July 24, 2020

I spotted a large fishing spider during a photowalk with Michael Powell along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | fishing spider

Mike and I were searching for an uncommon species of dragonfly, but hey, we’re equal opportunity wildlife photographers who know a good subject when we see one. Please look at the full-size version of the photograph in order to appreciate its subtle color palette.

Seeing Double

Look closely at the preceding photo. Call me crazy, but I see a mean monkey face on the front half of the spider and another type of primate face on the back half. Are you with me?

Post Update

Sincere thanks to John Smith, member of the “BugGuide” Facebook group, for identifying this individual as Dolomedes scriptus, one of many species of fishing spiders.

For those of you who are struggling to see the second primate, here’s a graphic that could be helpful.

Graphic courtesy Smithsonian Channel.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Spotlight on Slaty Skimmer

July 22, 2020

Michael Powell spotted a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) during a photowalk with me along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, hamules, and terminal appendages.

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Slaty Skimmer (male)

After a long day of searching for Eastern Least Clubtails (Stylogomphus albistylus) unsuccessfully — an uncommon species of dragonfly — it was good to see any type of dragonfly, including a common species like Slaty Skimmer!

Slaty Skimmer is a habitat generalist that can be found almost anywhere there is water.

Post Update

You know, sometimes I look at a full-frame photo and think it would look better cropped slightly. This is one of those times. So I cropped the photo and think it looks much better than the full-frame version. What do you think?

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Slaty Skimmer (male)

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Cobra Clubtail dragonfly (female, No. 5)

July 20, 2020

Sometimes I think I need an editor to select my best photos. Case in point, the following photos look similar but they are subtly different.

In the first photo, the terminal appendages seem to be more in focus than in the second photo.

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Cobra Clubtail (female)

The second photo shows a better view of the face while the terminal appendages are slightly softer.

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Cobra Clubtail (female)

Decisions, decisions. I decided not to decide, opting to publish both photos. Which photo do you prefer?

The Backstory

At least 11 Cobra Clubtail dragonflies (Gomphurus vastus) were spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell in Fairfax County, Virginia USA, including 10 females and one male. This blog post features two photos of female No. 5.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (male)

July 17, 2020

A Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (Argia tibialis) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Blue-tipped Dancer is a member of Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies).

This individual is a male. I love the gun metal gray color of his upper thorax stripes.

15 JUL 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-tipped Dancer (male)

Related Resource: A. tibialis male #4 (Blue-tipped Dancer)

Credit

Thanks to Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for help in identifying this specimen.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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