Spring Flowers Are Blooming
In my last post I wrote about my new lenses from Lensbaby, the Velvet 85 and Sweet 50. During the past month I've been using them a lot and I fall more in love with them during every outing. Spring wild flowers have really never been my "thing" but these lenses have changed my mind. I can't get enough of them now. Two good friends are really into wild flowers so they have been showing me all of their great locations.
There is great fun in tramping around forests looking for a hint of color. Sometimes the wild flowers such as trillium cover the forest floor like a blanket. What a show that presents. Most of the flowers are very tiny and, of course, are close to the ground. While during my "normal" landscape work of hiking to waterfalls and climbing around rocks and streams searching for the right compositions key. Likewise, searching for the "right" wild flower and composition is really quite the challenge and equally tiring. You often have to lay on the ground and contort yourself into odd positions to get the desired compositions.
While composition is always important, so is getting just the right focus when doing macro work. My eyes are not that sharp anymore so I struggled getting the proper point(s) in focus. Many times I thought I nailed the focus only to get it up on my computer monitor and realizing I missed it. Even with using focus stacking you may not capture it. One of my friends has a macro focusing rail that he let me borrow for a while. He was always shooting handheld and didn't use it. Handholding doesn't work for me. But when I started using the rail I was amazed how much better my focusing became. The LCD screen on the back of my camera works well but when I magnify the screen and use the rail I can get pinpoint focus most of the time. So I knew I had to get one. If you've been challenged with getting macro shots in focus, I suggest you try one out.
Here is a photo of one. This one is adjustable on two planes so you can move your camera side-to-side or front to back in very tiny increments.
This first photo is a Blood Root bud. This was taken with my Lensbaby Velvet 85 at about f/4. The blurred backgrounds are really quite nice with Lensbaby lenses. The Blood Root is very small and short. Taking these types of shots is not very comfortable as you have to put your body in some unnatural positions. But when you get these types of results, it is well worth it. This was one of the first shots I took using the macro rails. You can see I captured the tiny vertical lines on the petals.
This wild flower is a Trout Lily. You can't really see its super thin stem. A big challenge photographing wild flowers is wind. It takes so little to play havoc on getting a clean sharp image. One good thing is that you're usually using a wide open aperture so that improves shutter speed. Luckily, I shoot with a Nikon D850, which has very good resolution at high ISOs. So even if I'm shooting at ISO 1000 to get my shutter speeds near 1/320th second, I can still obtain clean images.
Another great tool for macro work is the Plamp, shown here. This version fits over a screw driver that goes into the ground. The flexible arm is very sturdy and is strong enough to hold a small diffuser. There are other versions that can clamp on a tripod leg. I have two Plamps. Sometimes I use one to hold the flower stem and another to hold a diffuser. They work great.
While photographing this tulip, I used a piece of 8 x 10 foam board with a texture print glued to it. My Plamp came in handy to hold the texture behind the tulip. This can be very useful when the actual background is not very attractive. During post processing I also applied a bit of the Orton effect using Luminar 4. It adds a nice tone to images in some cases.
My wife had some straw flowers so I photographed this one with my Velvet 85. Instead of placing a texture foam board behind it I chose to blend a texture in during post processing. It can create quite a different feel for the image.
This last image is a branch of a dogwood tree from a neighbor's yard. Lensbabys are great for many types of photography. You can give a totally different look to subjects using them. Here you can see the softness the lens creates to the blossoms.
One way to add a different look and feel to your photography is to use a Lensbaby lens. There are many different versions - all provide a different look. But even if you don't have a Lensbaby lens, I encourage you to try out macro photography. There is a whole new tiny world to capture out there and its beautiful.
If you like this post or not, please drop me a note. I loved to hear your comments.
Happy shooting, Reid
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