Thursday, July 31, 2014

Roll Away the Dew

Dragged the macro lens and tripod into the backyard this morning at 7:30.  Meet a dewy Yarrow (Achillea millefolium):

Light wasn't too great at this hour, but a slow speed (and no breeze) made up for it.  Shot at 1/25 sec;   f/3.2;   ISO 100.

SYTL for the title (godawful wide aspect ratio; better to just close your eyes and listen).

Shopping the Allium

Although I was happy with the focus stacking results on the Allium picture  that I posted yesterday, there were things that didn't look right on second glance.  The stack was from a series of 25 shots, and a slight breeze had caused some problems with the automatic alignment. Some of the stems were wonky, the background blooms were too fuzzy, and there were some "ghost" flowers on broken stalks.

Last night, I went back and fixed most of those problems.  Going back to the original stack layers, I located one layer that had the best sharpness for the back row blooms, and I layered it over the top.  Same for a couple of stems and sections of flowers.

The results speak for themselves:

I hate to put up a picture and then have to change it because I got the Photoshop editing bug.  Sometimes you just have to do it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Color Purple

A couple of new focus stacks from the back yard garden.

Meet the Stokes' aster (Stokesia laevis):

Alliums with no name:

The allium shot is composed of 25 separate shots.  A slight breeze wafted through while I was shooting, so the background blooms have a more pronounced blur to them, as do some of the stalks.  C'est la vie.

The season is working its way towards purple flowers.

Monday, July 21, 2014


At one point yesterday the breeze was light enough to allow me to pull off a 20-shot focus stack of some Gaillaria flowers.  MagicLantern software comes through again!

There's no way that I could previously have gotten all three blooms in such sharp focus.

Here's the right-most flower zoomed in:

I know these colors look too vivid, but I didn't pull any tricks on this shot.

Monday, July 14, 2014

If you could touch but the hem of my garment...

Who'd have thought that I could be the cure the cancer?
Scientists from the University of Exeter say that a compound found in the smell of rotten eggs and human flatulence might some day be useful in mitigating the cell damage responsible in part for certain diseases.
Does this mean that I've been wasting my time having colonoscopic exams?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Warhol Moment

I know this is just plain wrong, but I had to do it.  Or at least try it.  Obviously, I don't have the Warhol touch, and my model isn't quite Marilyn Monroe.

Yes, it's another Warhol moment.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lock 'n Dam

Took a walk in the other direction on the Rail Trail at lunch today, toward the Morgantown Lock & Dam.  I wanted to give the HDR Bracketing feature of Magic Lantern a try.  Here's a quick and dirty:

Unlike many of the features in Magic Lantern, HDR Bracketing isn't rocket science.  You can use the basic Canon menu setting for Exposure Compensation/AEB in aperture priority mode, and fire off three shots.  Magic Lantern's HDR Bracketing just presets an exposure bracket and then automatically fires off the three shots for you.

Here's a different group of shots and a different HDR setting:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Canas in the Park

At lunch today, I shot this Orange Cana Lily at McQuian park.

I didn't eat it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Magic Lantern

It was a stroke of luck that my Canon 550D/T2i is one of the supported platforms for Magic Lantern, a firmware add-on.  Although initially created for shooting video, a broad array of features have been added for photographers.

I took the plunge this weekend, downloading Stable Release v2.3.  I  formatted a spare SD card and copied over to it a binary autoexec file and the FIR file for my camera model.  The first attempt to load the firmware failed.  Following instructions, I re-applied the Canon 1.0.9 firmware and tried again.  This time it took.

One of the amazing things about the Magic Lantern firmware is that it does not replace the stock Canon firmware.  It runs alongside it.

The hardest part was figuring out how to use the new features.  My killer app was the automated focus stack.  It probably took an hour of experimentation before I finally got it right.  With the camera on a tripod, I start in Live View, which seems to be an essential aspect for using Magic Lantern.  After focusing in on a starting point, you enter Magic Lantern by pressing the Trash button on the camera.  This brings up the Magic Lantern menu.  From there, I go to the Focus menu and select Focus End Point.  This takes me back to Live View, where I use manual focus buttons to set the final focus point for the stack.  Back once again to the Focus menu of Magic Lantern, and I start the Play mode for Focus Stack.  From there, the firmware takes over operation of the camera, shooting the series and changing the focus with each shot.

Here's one of my better results, taken with an eight-shot sequence:

This shot is actually a small portion of a much larger picture.  I just liked the composition of this little group.   I don't know what the flowers are, but they are quite tiny, somewhat resembling yarrow in size.

Magic Lantern is going to open up a lot of new possibilities for my photography!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back in Black

The old news is that I've got my macro lens back.  With no time to waste yesterday morning, I dragged the tripod out into the back yard and shot some bracketed exposures of garden flowers in the natural light of the golden hour.  Time for some high dynamic range (HDR) work.

Meet the Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus):

I think this is a Liatris spicata:

And of course, your basic lily:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pussy Magnet

Can't keep the cats off of my car.