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John Mitchell

Insect selective focus shots

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A question for insect experts, I took some selective focus macro shots of bees today, something I don't do very often, and I'm wondering what Alamy QC is looking for with images like these. I was using a stabilized lens (with some new dedicated extension rings) and f/5.6 because I wanted to keep the shutter speeds high (no tripod) and blur the background somewhat. I managed to get the eye(s), part of the striped back, and closest wing to the lens in focus. Will this likely keep QC happy? Or do they expect most/all of the insect to be in focus? The images look fine to me, but then I'm not a macro photographer. Thanks.

 

P.S. I was using a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor, so the DoF is probably greater than with some other cameras -- e.g full frame.

Edited by John Mitchell

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I use full frame with 105mm macro and my focus is veryyy ... risky ;) Never had rejection problem... You can search for insects in my collection to see what I'm talking about ;) I think you can upload without any worries.

 

Example

 

ringlet-brown-butterfly-de9f7c.jpg
Edited by Arletta
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A question for insect experts, I took some selective focus macro shots of bees today, something I don't do very often, and I'm wondering what Alamy QC is looking for with images like these. I was using a stabilized lens (with some new dedicated extension rings) and f/5.6 because I wanted to keep the shutter speeds high (no tripod) and blur the background somewhat. I managed to get the eye(s), part of the striped back, and closest wing to the lens in focus. Will this likely keep QC happy? Or do they expect most/all of the insect to be in focus? The images look fine to me, but then I'm not a macro photographer. Thanks.

 

P.S. I was using a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor, so the DoF is probably greater than with some other cameras -- e.g full frame.

Unless you use focus stacking - difficult with live insects! - it's virtually impossible to get all of an insect in focus.  I try to get an angle such that the focal plane runs through an eye (side shots) or both eyes (head shots) and covers as much of the insect's body and wings as possible.  Legs and antennae stick out at odd angles so you'll rarely get all of those in sharp focus.  Alamy will be well aware of this.  One thing worth remembering is that at macro distances the plane of acceptable sharp focus extends the same distance front and back rather than the 1/3 front - 2/3 back with more conventional shots.

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I need new specs. Macro shots of beers is what I read at first. Not impossible though.

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I need new specs. Macro shots of beers is what I read at first. Not impossible though.

Though probably safer than macro shots of bears which is equally not impossible?

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I have a fair number of bees and butterflies in my port taken with the Nikon 105 lens, a few with my first, a Sigma 105. Almost all of them have selective focus. I always get the head/eye sharp, and they are accepted just fine.

Just did a batch taken with mirrorless, but since I didn't have a macro lens, they aren't very close up. All passed.

 

I'm looking forward to Fuji's 1/1 macro on the roadmap.

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Thanks kindly, very helpful advice. Can small patches of blown-out highlights on the tiny critters' bodies cause problems? They are often impossible to completely get rid of, even with strong highlight recovery.

 

Philippe, do you find diffraction an issue at f/16? I agree, a tripod is best for macro, but the honey bees I was photographing were very hyperactive, i.e. "Type A" busy bees. A tripod would probably have been an impediment. No, I hadn't had any beers.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Philippe, do you find diffraction an issue at f/16?

 

Nope, but I avoid using a smaller aperture like f/22.

 

 

 

I agree, a tripod is best for macro, but the honey bees I was photographing were very hyperactive

 

When shooting active insects during the day, I use two SB-R200 Speedlights (Nikon R1C1) mounted on the macro lens. Not to freeze the action, just to light up the harsh shadows. But I rarely shoot macro without a sturdy tripod.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Thanks again. I don't think that I'll be progressing beyond the casual macro shooter stage, but I'll take along a tripod next time.

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Can small patches of blown-out highlights on the tiny critters' bodies cause problems? They are often impossible to completely get rid of, even with strong highlight recovery.

 

 

I try to clone them out (if possible) instead of using highlight recovery (when they are completely blown out, there's nothing to "recover"  :mellow: )

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Cloning-out is my Plan B (or "Plan Bee"). I'll give it a try. Actually, I quite like the look of the highlights, but...

Edited by John Mitchell

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After reading the current thread on polarizing filters, I'm wondering if they might be useful for photographing insects, etc. (despite the light loss). They could conceivably help with preserving detail in high-lit areas. No?

 

P.S. QC didn't seem to have a problem with this one (not mine). These are the type of highlight patches that I'm talking about.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Shiny bodied insects - beetles are a good example - are very prone to blown out highlights.  If you can get them on hazy days with very diffuse lighting it's best - but not always possible.  Flash needs fairly heavy diffusion to mute the highlights.  If they're minor, either ignore or clone them out.  Having said that, Alamy accepted this one without problems but I wouldn't submit anything much worse than this and there is still some detail in the highlight area.

 

black-with-four-red-spots-spectabilis-fo

 

I usually use a single Canon 430EX flash with mini softbox on a bracket to get it as close as possible to the subject.  http://trainerjohnphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/14-25-180-430-long-distance-macro.html will give you an idea of gear and results.  The hardest job with flash is getting a good background.  It's actually easier the smaller the subject as you can often get it resting on or in front of something to give a simple, non black background.  This little hoverfly was shot using my 180mm macro & flash arrangement in front of a large leaf about 1ft /30cm behind the insect.

 

female-of-the-small-uk-hoverfly-melanost

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Shiny bodied insects - beetles are a good example - are very prone to blown out highlights.  If you can get them on hazy days with very diffuse lighting it's best - but not always possible.  Flash needs fairly heavy diffusion to mute the highlights.  If they're minor, either ignore or clone them out.  Having said that, Alamy accepted this one without problems but I wouldn't submit anything much worse than this and there is still some detail in the highlight area.

 

black-with-four-red-spots-spectabilis-fo

 

I usually use a single Canon 430EX flash with mini softbox on a bracket to get it as close as possible to the subject.  http://trainerjohnphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/14-25-180-430-long-distance-macro.html will give you an idea of gear and results.  The hardest job with flash is getting a good background.  It's actually easier the smaller the subject as you can often get it resting on or in front of something to give a simple, non black background.  This little hoverfly was shot using my 180mm macro & flash arrangement in front of a large leaf about 1ft /30cm behind the insect.

 

female-of-the-small-uk-hoverfly-melanost

 

Thanks, John. I have minimal equipment for macro photography -- dedicated extension tubes and regular lenses, no flash setup or real macro lens. Results are sharp enough, though. I'm going back to the same honeybee locale in diffuse light (might even get up early) armed with a tripod and try some more shots. The results won't look nearly as professional as yours and Philippe's, but I think I can improve on the images that I have.

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Link deleted. Unfair question.

 

Thanks again, everyone, for your comments, etc.

Edited by John Mitchell

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