Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Fern, Interrupted

 On my hike around Coopers Rock state park last weekend, I came across some interesting looking ferns.  They had typical green fronds, top and bottom, but the middle was taken up by a dark green band of spores.

Interrupted Fern (Claytosmunda claytoniana)

I've identified it as an Interrupted Fern (Claytosmunda claytoniana).  According to Wikipedia

The Claytosmunda genus has only one species, Claytosmunda claytoniana .  The interrupted fern is native to Eastern Asia, Eastern United States, and Eastern Canada.
Fragmentary foliage resembling Claytosmunda claytoniana has been found in the fossil record as far back as the Triassic.   C. claytoniana is a paramount example of evolutionary stasis. Paleontological evidence indicates it has remained unchanged, even at the level of fossilized nuclei and chromosomes, for at least 180 million years.

Now I want to talk a little bit about the picture, itself.  I had a bear of a time capturing a decent image.  I was trying to take a hand-held shot in somewhat low light, and a slight breeze gave the image even more shake.

I wanted decent depth of field with my macro lens, so I tried to shoot at f/18.  This was one of those rare times when I changed the ISO to 3200.  I was able to use a shutter speed of 1/100 sec.

You can well imagine the amount of "noise" in the original picture.  This was one of those time that I appreciated the image editing software from Topaz Labs.  This was definitely a job for DeNoise AI.   I followed up that process with Sharpen AI.  The results up above really speak for themselves.

Here's what it looked like before the DeNoise and Sharpen:

Monday, May 17, 2021

Slipper Time

 This past weekend I took a drive to Coopers Rock state forest in search of the elusive Pink Lady's Slipper orchid.  In previous years, I had found the orchids just below the handicap parking sign of off the large parking lot.  I was disappointed that there wasn't a single one.

I drove on to the head of the trail that leads down to the Henry Clay iron furnace.  It was here that I had hoped to catch the Rattlesnake Plantain orchid in flower.  Go figure, I didn't see a single one this time of the year.   What I did see, however, was a lovely stand of Pink Lady's Slippers.   I had a field day with my camera there.

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

I seem to have captured them at their peak.

Another plant that I recognized is the Halberd-leaved Violet (Viola hastata):

Halberd-leaved violet (Viola hastata)

I also took this shot of a pair of mushroom growing out of some moss:

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Getting Creative

 I've been exploring a little bit more of  the bells and whistles on my Canon 77D.  With few exceptions, I've been pretty muck locked into using the camera's Aperture Priority (Av) mode.  Recently, I've tried shooting something with the Creative filters.

Here are some of the filter effects that you can use:

  • Grainy B/W 
  • Soft focus 
  • Fish-eye - processed to simulate fish-eye lens shots
  • Water painting - for images that look like water paintings
  • Toy camera - simulates distinctive colors and vignetting of images from toy cameras
  • Miniature - process to resemble miniature scale models, similar to tilt-shifting
  •  HDR art standard - images resemble paintings with low contrast and flat gradation
  •  HDR art vivid - images resemble vivid graphic art with flat gradation
  • HDR art bold - images resemble oil paintings with vivid color and depth
  • HDR art embossed - images resemble old, faded photos
Yesterday during my lunch break I tried the fish-eye effect on some daffodils.  Here's the result:

I'm going to have to try some of the other effects.   Since I rarely carry my LensBaby  Composer around, I can see where these creative filters will give it some real competition.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Repairing the focus on an SX-70

 First a little background.  Back in the summer of 2019, someone gave me a very unusual Polaroid SX-70 that was customized for scientific photography.  Later, in September, I removed the customization hardware and gave the camera a new skin.  

I then discovered that there was a problem with focus-to-infinity with this camera.   You can see the problem with one of the shots that I posted on my Flickr account.  Out to infinity, there has consistently been a bit of lens blur.

This brings me to a couple of weeks ago, when I searched for some repair solutions.  Flickr came to my rescue with some basic instructions.  All I had to do was remove the front housing rectangle around the lens opening.  I was able to pry it off quite easily.  Then I ran the focus out to infinity, where I could easily see the blur in the split screen focus.  I depressed the "idler wheel" as described and with a very slight turn of the gear, I was able to regain the focus-to-infinity.

Although I have a fresh pack of film, I'm waiting until Spring, when there will be much more to photograph in color.   I'm confident that I'll be able to achieve decent focus this time around.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Pelican (can hold much more than my belly can)

 I had no serious intentions when I was browsing on eBay a couple of week ago.  Someone was selling a large number of  used cases for $50 each.  The Pelican 1520 Protector is a nice-sized case for my camera equipment. A new one is in the $150 range.  In order to add my own equipment to this case, however, I needed to by a new foam insert.  For $23, I was able to get Pick and Pluck Foam for a Pelican 1520 case on Amazon.

This all turned out to be a sweet deal.  I have room for a little bit more, but I'm taking my time to decide on the final slot.

Pelican 1520 case with camera equipment

From the top, circling clockwise:

  • 50mm f/1.4 primary
  • EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro 
  • 70-200f/4 L telephoto
  • EF-S 18-55 IS 
  • Canon D77 camera with EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM "pancake"
  • Canon Speedlite 580EX flash
I'm thinking of cutting a hole out for my LensBaby, but I'm going to let that thought marinate.  On the plus side, it would give me something with tilt-shift and fisheye capability.  On the other hand, I'd like to be able to store a few specialty filters, too.

Monday, February 8, 2021

A new year and a new lens

 I got an early birthday present of a Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM "pancake" lens.  A co-worker had gotten one a few years back and I've admired it since.   It's small, lightweight and has a low profile, making it easy to carry around.

A Ken Rockwell review of this lens gives it good marks.  He summarizes that

The optics of this lens are superb, and its size make it a complete winner. For $150, you can't go wrong.
He's right.   

As a side benefit, the lens is classified as a Macro, but I haven't really taken much advantage of that at this point.  I ought to work dandy with a lens extension tube.

So, here's the moment of truth.  One of my first shots with this lens:
Back of WVU's Woodburn Hall

It's the back of Woodburn Hall on WVU's main campus.  This is an uncropped hand-held shot, but I did apply lens correction in PhotoShop.  I also ran it through Topaz Labs' DeNoise AI.   For the B&W, I ran this through one of Tim Shields' Lightroom Presets (Cold Tone).  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Life in Macro

 Even thought I'm not very good at it, I love macro photography.  I've written recently about my experience with a new flash unit, and I've tried to make more use of it.

One of the problems I've had for a long time is wrestling over depth-of-field.  My trusty Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens has served me well over the years, but because of natural light, I was prone to shooting it wide open at f/2.8.  Thus the shallow depth of field.

It's possible to teach an old photographer new tricks, though.  With a ring flash, there's no reason why I couldn't stop down.  My macro lens can stop down to f/32, so I gave that a try.  The first problem I ran into at f/32 was that my shots were dark.  I compensated to this in Lightroom, where I was able to recover amazing detail.   I do need to learn how to goose up the strength of the flash, if it's possible.

But the low f-stop really made a difference. Here are two recent shots:

This is a Red-headed bush cricket (Phyllopalpus pulchellus) sitting rather boldly on the leaf of a miniature rose at my house.  A here's a real beauty:

It's a tiny little sweat bee belonging to the genus Augochlorine.  I would normally have to create a focus stack to get this kind of DOF, but shooting at f/32 did a darn good job for a lot less work.

Now, this shot wasn't quite this sharp to begin with.  I ran it through a couple of plug-in filters that I had bought from Topaz Labs:  Sharpen AI and DeNoise AI.  I'll have to tell you more about those later!