Japanese iris

20 06 2018

Playing around with very dreamy and shallow depth-of-field in this shot of a Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Variegata’); Nikon D850, Nikkor 105mm micro lens set at f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/100 sec

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Purple iris

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Eastern Amberwing dragonfly

26 06 2017

Going through my dragonfly photo archives and came across this “high key” photo of an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) perched on a waterlily bud. Amberwings are one of the smaller dragonflies. The depth of field is shallow on its wings, but I like this shot because the body and head is still sharp. The high key/bright sunlight works in this photo, too. Normally I try to shoot on overcast days or use a diffuser—but you can’t really use a diffuser on moving subjects! This was shot at Green Spring Gardens a couple of years ago.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Amberwing 1





Slaty Skimmer dragonfly

12 07 2016

It’s obvious I spent quite a bit of time stalking Slaty Skimmers at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens yesterday afternoon! Several of these beauties kept coming back to this same bare branch and I stayed close by to capture various angles. It was a great opportunity to experiment with varying depth-of-field, exposures and compositions.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Slaty Skimmer Radiate





Green Bottle fly

24 06 2013

Green Bottle fly (Lucilia sericata), photographed in my garden this morning. I focused on its eyes and since it is so small, the depth of field isn’t as great as I’d like it to be. He stayed so still that I should have done some stack focusing and merged the images to get a more overall in-focus shot. I would love to have had the wings more in focus, but I still like the shot. Colorful little insects, aren’t they?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Green Bottle Fly lorez





Tiny mating moths

12 05 2013

My neighbor, dear friend and frequent photography companion, Michael Powell, challenged me to get a shot of these tiny moths in my garden yesterday afternoon. They were on the edge of a leaf of one of my many Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) plants (they self-seed all over the garden). Combined (and yes, they were combined), the moths barely measured an inch in width! If you’re familiar with depth-of-field in photography and how it works, you’ll know that the closer you get to the subject (and the tinier it is), the areas in focus become extremely shallow. I was directly overhead shooting these two moths and they were visually on the same plane, but it was difficult to get a shot where almost everything was in focus. This was my best shot and I’m happy with it overall.

I still haven’t identified what kind of insects they are. Michael and I are fairly certain they are moths, but we could be swayed otherwise with a more official identifications. Takers, anyone?

UPDATE: Thanks to Jane Auty Kirkland (author/photographer of the Take a Walk Books series), for identifying these little moths. She has identified them as Orange Mint moths (Pyrausta orphisalis). Check out this link here for clarification.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mating Moths lorez





Columbine + today’s photography lesson

20 05 2011

I’m really enjoying experimenting with depth-of-field to create bokeh (pronounced “bo-kuh”) in my flower photography. Yes, you’ll sacrifice the foreground-to-background focus you’d get using smaller apertures, but sometimes a flower demands that effect—use selective focusing and let the other areas go soft.

I decide when I’m going to use larger apertures mostly based on what the background behind my subject looks like. If I’m shooting extremely close up on a flower, I want to capture all the details from front to back and since there wouldn’t be a strong background in those shots, I can use smaller apertures and get really sharp depth-of-field throughout. When the background behind a subject is less than desirable (many colors competing with my subject, sharp lines like grass blades and flower stems, etc.), I’ll try the larger aperture approach until I get that wonderful bokeh photographers strive for. Knocking the background out in some shots can create amazing blobs and streaks of color. Here, the background flowers (Poppies and Rose Campion, as I recall) go completely out of focus, giving this shot what I call the “Skittles” effect!

And now for your daily lecture: If you don’t have a tripod, save up your bucks and get a really good one and use it as often as you can. I’ve always had one and wasn’t religious about using it much until I got serious about my macro photography. Yes, it’s a burden to lug one around, but take a look at the carbon fiber models—they’re much lighter than others. I bought a Benro C-298EX tripod last year at a photography show for under $250 (a steal compared to what I paid for my first carbon fiber tripod when they first came out!) from Hunt’s Photo and Video (great retailer, by the way!). You can find almost all of the Benro models at great prices at Hunt’s Photo here. I don’t think they’re making this model anymore, but there are other Benro carbon fiber models to chose from and some are less expensive. Read the specs; if your camera is lightweight, you could get by with one of the lesser priced models. With this particular model, I can take the center column and switch it from vertical to horizontal for more flexibility. You can also spread the tripod legs independently and lock them in place in three stop increments.

Once you settle on your choice of tripod, add a good tripod head to it. I have some smaller and cheaper tripod heads, but after trying the Manfrotto 322RC2 joystick head, I was sold. It’s not quite as pricey as some of Manfrotto’s other tripod heads (Amazon has it for $129.95 here). When I’m photographing portraits and on-the-go shots, I don’t always use a tripod, but to get really good macro shots, you really should use a tripod. It will free your hands up to tidy up the area around your subject, move leaves/twigs/wayward grasses, etc., and you’ll have a hand free to hold a diffuser if you don’t have a trusty assistant with you!

Then again, a cheaper tripod is better than no tripod at all, I’d venture to say. So, if you can’t afford to splurge on a lightweight carbon fiber model with a really good quick-release ball head, use what you have and work your way up to it when you want to take your work to the next level. In case you’re wondering—no, I don’t get paid for these product endorsements—I just wanted to share some of the tools I use to get those shots!

Addendum: I could just buy one more Photoshop plug-in product (Alien Skin’s Bokeh 2) and take the easier way out (don’t think I haven’t considered it—I own everything else they make, almost). Now that I’ve watched their demo video, I’m getting the urge to order it. Watch the video—you’ll fall in love with this product just like I did!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Siberian Iris

23 04 2010

I played with depth of field while photographing this Siberian Iris. I shot more than 30 images of this same flower, and found this one to be my favorite. While the flower is sharp, the background has a very shallow depth of field, making the bloom appear to float—love me some of that bokeh!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.