Archive for the ‘digital videography’ Category

Burrowing hooks

October 12, 2021

Odonate nymphs (larvae) can be classified broadly into three (3) groups: Burrowers; Climbers/Clingers; and Sprawlers. Source Credit: “Conservation of Illinois: Dragonflies” Webinar (1:17:19) by Marla Garrison, McHenry County College.

Some species of nymphs (larvae) in Family Gomphidae (Clubtails) are burrowers that have an anatomy adapted for burrowing into sandy substrates quickly, including a torpedo-shaped body and thick legs with burrowing hooks.

Pop Quiz: Using the preceding annotated image as a guide, can you find the burrowing hooks on the front- and middle legs of the following specimen?

Related Resources

The following videos from the Dragonfly Society of the Americas show two species of clubtails burrowing into sand. Thanks to Marla and Carlos Garrison for sharing these videos via YouTube. Both videos are hyperlinked from “The Search Begins” by Marla Garrison and Ken Tennessen (Argia, Volume 33, Issue 3).

Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus)

Riverene Clubtail (Stylurus amnicola)

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter

August 17, 2021

I watched a video by Micael Widell recently that reminded me the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a good value given its versatility.

Before I bought the Raynox close-up filter many years ago, I was skeptical that it would work. I still can’t explain why it works with many lenses I own including both macro- and non-macro lenses, but I can tell you with certainty it does work and works well!

Canon 100mm macro lens

The Canon 100mm macro lens has a maximum magnification of 1:1. Micael Widell says adding the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to the lens increases the magnification from 1x to 2x. According the B&H Photo Specs page for the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, its magification is 2.5x.

Calculating magnification is tricky and not as straightforward as one might think. In this case it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Widell or B&H Photo is correct, the fact of the matter is adding a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to your lens should at least double the magnification.

The first photograph shows the following equipment, couterclockwise from the upper-left: “snap-on universal adapter” for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter; Raynox close-up filter mounted on a 52-43mm step-down ring; and a 67-52mm step-down ring.

Several mounting adapters for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter.

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter comes with a “snap-on universal adapter” for mounting the filter on lenses with a filter size from 52-67mm. The universal adapter clips on the front of a lens the same as a lens cap. That’s OK for use in a photo studio but less than ideal for use in the field. In my opinion, it’s better to use inexpensive step-down rings to mount the close-up filter more securely.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II macro photography kit.

The Rube Goldberg rig shown above has a lot of parts, but for the purpose of this blog post focus on the Canon 100mm macro lens and Raynox DCR-250 mounted on the lens using nested 67-52mm and 52-43mm step-down rings.

In case you’re wondering whether vignetting is a problem when using two step-down rings with the Canon 100mm macro lens, it isn’t. As it turns out, the front lens element is recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel so the step-down rings cover little if any glass.

Panasonic Lumix superzoom bridge cameras

Both my Panasonic Lumix DCR-150 and DCR-300 superzoom bridge cameras feature a 52mm filter thread size. So it’s simple to use a 52-43mm step-down ring to mount the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter on either camera lens.

Raynox DCR-250 not mounted on the camera lens.

The camera lens will need to be adjusted for at least some slight telephoto zoom in order to eliminate the vignetting caused by mounting a 43mm filter on a lens with a 52mm filter size.

Both cameras feature a 24x zoom lens, so when the Raynox DCR-250 is added to the kit the actual magnification will vary depending upon the focal length for which the camera lens is set.

Raynox DCR-250 shown mounted on the camera lens.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it?

April 6, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. It’s time for another exciting episode of “What is it?”

This episode is a little different because the name of the mystery item is printed clearly on the product itself. I guess the real mystery is two-fold: What does the acronym “HDMI” mean, and what does this video capture device do?

“HDMI” stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface.” The MavisLink Video Capture Card converts HDMI 4K 60FPS (from your digital camera) to USB 1080P 60FPS (on your computer) that can be either recorded or live streamed on video conferencing services.

“MavisLink” is a brand name that was recommended by Graham Houghton, a gentleman whose expertise I respect and opinion I value. It’s worth noting a quick Web search will reveal lots of video capture cards sold under different brand names that look identical to the MavisLink device shown above. Do they work as well as the one recommended by Graham? Who knows?

I plan to use the device in combination with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) to record the video and audio output from some of my digital cameras; the saved video clips will be featured in future “how to” blog posts.

So far I have tested the process with several of my cameras: My Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 and Fujifilm X-T3 work; my Fujifim X-T1 doesn’t work.

I still need to test my older Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It should work but as far as I know the camera doesn’t feature “clean HDMI” output, that is, some or all of the info display on the camera viewfinder/LCD (e.g., the focus rectangle) is included in the output.

Related Resource: DSLR and Mirrorless Webcams Versus Capture over HDMI, by Graham Houghton (8:56). See the segment entitled “HDMI Capture” that begins at ~5:01 into the video.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Cross-compatibility of Godox TT685-series flashes

November 20, 2019

The following quick-and-dirty video is a demonstration of the cross-compatibily among Godox TT685-series external flash units, including a Godox TT685F, TT685o/p, and TT685C (shown from left-to-right). All three flash units were test-fired using Godox X2TF and X2To/p radio flash triggers.

Notice the brand of flash trigger used to fire the flashes appears in the lower-left corner of the LCD on each flash. The beginning of the video shows all three flash units had been fired by a Godox X2TF (for Fujifilm) set for TTL mode. Think about that — now the TT685o/p (center) and TT685C (right) “think” and operate like the Fujifilm-compatible flash (left). Incredible!

Next I switched to a Godox X2To/p (for Olympus and Panasonic), changed the mode to Manual (M), and test-fired the flashes.


The cross-compability of Godox TT685-series flashes makes these relatively inexpensive, well-made flashes an even better value. By buying wisely it’s possible to assemble an array of flashes that provides maximum flexibility. Bravo, Godox!

Editor’s Commentary

You know, I actually had a vision of how I wanted this video to turn out before I started shooting. Let’s just say my vision wasn’t realized. I like to think I’m a fairly good photographer; videographer, not so much. Perhaps I’ll re-do the video when I’m not as pressed for time as I was for this iteration.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Odonate exuviae collecting sites

July 29, 2019

The following video shows a “boater’s-eye view” of some sites where odonate exuviae have been collected by Joseph Johnston along Aquia Creek, located in Stafford County, Virginia USA. Joe is an avid boater and sport fisherman who kindly agreed to be my “Eyes on the Aquia,” always on the lookout for odonate exuvia to share with me.

The first photo gallery features still images of several spots shown in the preceding video. Joe estimates the water is ~5-6 feet deep outside the channel markers, and much deeper in the middle of the creek.

Joe’s boat is somewhere between the long boat docks (lower-right quadrant) and Government Island (near center), as shown in an aerial view of Aquia Creek provided by Google Maps.

The last photo gallery features still images of several exuviae, shown in situ before Joe collected the specimens. The first photo shows where it all began, when Joe collected his first dragonfly exuvia for me on 20 June 2018.

Related Resources


All media Copyright © 2019 by Joseph Johnston. Used with permission from Mr. Johnston.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” image: toy dinosaur

February 8, 2019

A toy dinosaur was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

The camera was set for ISO 100 and Aperture Priority at f/2.8. Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights plus a Nissin i40 external flash unit (set for video light) were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dinosaur.

Noise (graininess) has been a problem in some previous test shots using “Post Focus,” due to low light (underexposure). I changed the ISO from AUTO to 100 for this test, opened the aperture all the way to f/2.8, and added a third LED light source.

This is the first time I tested “Post Focus” and felt like the camera had a mind of its own! Nonetheless, the final output turned out OK. Further research and experimentation is required in order to understand what happened and why.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” images: Shadow Darner dragonfly

January 30, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) larva/nymph. This blog post features two focus-stacked composite images of a beautifully preserved specimen of the adult that emerged from the larva.

Each composite image was created from 30 TIF files extracted from a one-second MP4 video of the subject, “photographed” using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and “indented” hind wings (shown above). All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers”: the two cerci are missing (they broke off the terminal end of the abdomen during shipping); the epiproct is intact.

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) | dorsal-lateral view


Perhaps the biggest takeaway from on-going experimentation with Panasonic “Post Focus” is that the process continues to impress — it works quickly (typically one second or so) and works well, using lightweight, inexpensive equipment for making composite images of acceptable quality.

What’s not to like? The obvious answer: The image quality isn’t as high as comparable images created using HEAVY and EXPENSIVE camera gear in the controlled environment of a photo studio. On the other hand, I know from experience I’m unlikely to lug all of that gear into the field. I call it a BIG WIN to have found a relatively lightweight, inexpensive camera kit that does essentially the same job almost as well!

The next test: Use adult dragonflies in the wild as the subject. Regrettably, that will have to wait until the first odonates begin emerging during early spring.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the “photos” for creation of the composite images, shown above: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus“; and two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More testing: Panasonic “Post Focus”

January 28, 2019

A toy dragonfly was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.” Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dragonfly.

The test shots featured in my last blog post, and this one, were taken in order to establish the proof of concept that Panasonic “Post Focus” can be used to quickly (well, everything is relative) create high quality focus-stacked composite images. After limited testing, I can say the process works fairly well.

The next test: Use a preserved specimen of a real adult dragonfly as the subject. Please stay tuned for my next blog post.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Testing: Panasonic “Post Focus”

January 25, 2019

My new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 features some significant upgrades over my DMC-FZ150 such as a touch-screen LCD, built-in WiFi (enabling remote control of the camera using the “Panasonic Image App“), 49 focus points, and 4K video, to name a few. Perhaps the most intriguing new feature is what Panasonic calls “Post Focus.”

“Post Focus” can be used to change the focus point after a photograph is taken, in camera. OK, that’s astounding! But wait, there’s more.

With “Post Focus” enabled, the camera is used in the same way as when you’re shooting still photos. In reality, the camera records a small movie clip in 4K video at 30 fps (4:3 aspect ratio) every time you press the shutter button.

The 4K movie recording function is used to record roughly one second of MP4 video at 30 frames/second. During this recording, the camera’s autofocusing system scans the lens around the subject, moving from the foreground to the background to cover the entire scene. … It’s like a sophisticated form of focus bracketing and produces a movie clip containing about 30 frames. Source Credit: How the Panasonic Post Focus function works.

One reviewer of photography gear opined the process is too slow to be useful in real-world situations; in contrast, my first impression is the process works surprisingly quickly.

An MP4 file can be opened in Adobe Photoshop in order to export individual frames from the 4K video clip; the files can be saved in either JPG or TIF format. In turn those files can be imported into Photoshop to create a focus-stacked composite image, such as the one shown below.

A plastic toy Pterodactyl, 6.5″ in width.

A toy Pterodactyl was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using Panasonic “Post Focus.” One Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite image.

I think Panasonic “Post Focus” shows great potential for enabling the production of high quality focus-stacked composite images when photowalking, without carrying a lot of photography gear into the field.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Burst mode flash photography

October 12, 2018

This post provides a brief demonstration of burst mode flash photography using the gear shown in the following photo: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera plus Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube and Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF radio flash triggerGodox TT685F external flashGodox PROPAC PB960 Lithium-Ion Flash Power Pack; and Quantum Instruments CZ2 Power Cable (for Turbo Series Power Packs).

Godox flash photography gear.

The Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera is set for “CL” (continuous low) burst mode. The Godox TT685F external flash unit is set for Manual mode at 1/128 power, as shown on the LCD of the Godox XProF radio flash trigger mounted on the camera hot shoe. The external flash unit is connected to a Godox PROPAC PB960 power pack using a Quantum Instruments cable.

The external flash unit is powered by a set of four AA batteries, as usual. The external power pack enables a much faster recycle rate for the flash than is possible using only AA batteries.

The Quantum Instruments CZ2 Power Cable fits Canon external flash units such as the Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite and Canon 580EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites, as well as Godox external flash units made for Canon, Fujifilm, and Olympus/Panasonic digital cameras. You may want to buy two cables, since the Godox PROPAC PB860 can power two flash units at once.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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