I recall hearing from the experts that this year the cicada numbers are quite low. Certainly that familiar cicada noise did seem absent for some time, but not now. We seem to have plenty of the wee creatures around in our garden … and on the washing I might add. Anyway, whilst out in the garden thinking how dry it is and how the leaves seem to be changing colour … hopefully because of the heat rather than the approach of winter … I couldn’t help but notice several of the cicada skins on my silver birch trees. It always amazes me how much detail of the creature remains and how little of the old skin is damaged as the creature emerges. Looking at the photos below you’ll see its claws, hairs etc. etc. Quite amazing. ¬†Oh, click on the i age to get an enlarged view ūüôā

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Snoots and filters

20150221_123029 copyI’ve been working with my studio lights, reflectors and gobos to get a moody high contrast mood in some monochrome portrait shots. There’s a bit of work involved and truth be told I haven’t been finding it that easy with my studio lights. One of the issue has been the ambient light in the rooms. Unless the room is very dark the effect of the hard light from the strobes is not as harsh as you may want. With little ambient light it’s a tad awkward to see what you’re doing so all in all it’s been a challenge for me. A way to resolve this problem is to use a high flash sync’ speed. By using a fast shutter speed the effect of the ambient light is considerably reduced. Directing the flash to the area of interest and reducing the amount of light spill by use of a snoot further helps create a more dramatic shot. The monochrome shot in this post illustrates this to some extent. Always tricky to shoot yourself, but this may give you and idea of what I mean. This photo was taken at midday today on a pretty bright and sunny day in a well lit office. By using a high flash sync’ speed I could use a shutter speed of 1/8000 second. This in conjunction with an ISO of 100 helps to significantly darken the background. (Aperture was at f2.8 to reduce depth of field). This is great news for me as I need much less equipment to carry with me. Furthermore, the time of day when the shots are taken are less critical as is the location.

123931 copy The colour image was taken a few minutes later. Same settings as for the monochrome image but this time a second speedlight fitted with an orange gel was placed behind me. These are very quick and dirty shots taken a little earlier today really as a proof of concept. With careful positioning of speedlights I suspect some very lovely images can be captured. Oh, and a better looking model wouldn’t go amiss!

Nice reward.

I’d been admiring a hibiscus plant over the past few¬†months. I suppose really because its flowers were so much more delicate that the larger more substantial blooms I have in my garden. ¬†A delicate pink with such a dainty flower. ¬†Anyway, after admiring the plant for some time I was given the opportunity to take a cutting. ¬†Just the one small cutting, placed in a jam jar with water and left on my studio windowsill to see if I could encourage some roots to grow. ¬†To my delight, grow they did and once they seemed large enough the new plant was transferred to a small plant pot and left to develop further on the windowsill.

20150221_125710 copyThese past few days have been pretty busy for me and I must admit that it was only today that I noticed the plant. ¬†What a wonderful surprise to see my new plant in flower! ¬†I couldn’t resist and had to take a photo to show you. ¬†Click on the image and you’ll be able to see a larger version of the shot. ¬†Do you like?

The photograph was taken with a single flash with a snoot attached to camera left.  The idea was to keep the background quite dark, but give sufficient light on the flower such that I could use a small aperture.  I wanted to get as much of the stamen in focus as I could, so the lens was closed down quite a bit.  For the technical amongst you, ISO100, 1/200s, f29, 105mm lens.


Just a bit lucky

I’d been intrigued by the cactus blooms at the Botanic Gardens. Gorgeous flowers, but so short lived; many of the blooms just lasting a single day. Setting up the camera to try some photos of this rather lovely flower I heard some buzzing to camera left. I hadn’t finished setting exposure or focus but when I saw where the bee was I thought I’d try a shot or two. The first image shows the bee coming in for a landing on what must be a feast of nectar and pollen. The second shot provides a view similar to that the bee must have as it approaches the flower. ¬†Look to the top left flower in the image and you’ll see yet another bee heading in for a feed. ¬†Quite a popular plant for the bees it would appear!

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Up close!

20150215_130656 copyDon’t seem to have been on here in months. ¬†Thankfully I seem to have been kept busy with one thing and another. ¬†To be honest, of late it’s been more of one thing than another as I seem to have been taking more photos of properties for a number of South Auckland Realtors. ¬†Today, however, I experienced getting up close and personal with a praying mantis.

20150215_131210 copyAlways a challenge when you start to get close to things as focussing becomes quite awkward. Depth of field is virtually non-existent and this little creature wasn’t standing still. He was all over the place. Jumping from leaf to leaf and then doing his swaying and wobbling movements. Most of the images you see here were taken with a single diffused flash off camera pointed directly up to bounce the light off the white soffit just outside my front door. Looking through the camera viewfinder I could see the the praying mantis’s eyes looking straight back at me. Made me wonder if he could see himself in the lens and that was why he kept coming towards the camera! Below are a few more photos to amuse you. You’ll notice that as the size of the creature increases in the image so does the amount of the creature that is in focus. Quite a challenge to get focus. Obviously a lot more practice is required.

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