I suppose there are now several generations of Australians who won’t know what a Sunshine Harvester was and there would be very few people left who saw one working.
They lay abandoned on farms rusting away, except for the seats, which were repurposed as they are surprisingly comfortable in spite of being metal.
I rarely talk about gear as I think it’s often a distraction from just getting out and doing but having some sort of gear is necessary, so from time to time I do buy things and I finally replaced my 30 yer old Tamron 90mm Macro. First thing I did was go outside to see what it was like wide open and wow, it did not disappoint. The image for this post shows just how shallow the focus is.
Looking at taking this new addition through a proper workout over the coming weeks
Listening to British duo Oh Wonder
It’s just seed cone I picked up walking the dog but it became an exercise in creativity and problem solving.
To start with I just wanted a clean simple image with limited sharpness, I used an A4 sketchpad as a background and an improvised light source using a big window with a diffuser blind plus an iPhone box that was laying around as a reflector to fill the shadows. My 30 year old Calcuflash incident meter read f4 at 1/60, 400 ISO so I went with that. It’s not too shabby.
All up that was ten minutes effort but then I reworked the setup to get a sharper image. I could have gone with a longer exposure and smaller aperture but did not want to dig the tripod out so instead I went for flash. Using a ring flash diffuser I was able to use f11 at 1/160 sec, 400 ISO to get this;
The sharpness is there but working so closely (within a hand width of the subject) the light is not getting to the top of the subject and a lot of detail is getting lost. The paper is also over exposed in the top left corner.
The ring flash diffuser is a recent eBay purchase best described as a cross between a donut, a folding soft-box light modifier and a small drum. It cost somewhere between 20-30 dollars and for that you get a small soft-box that is really portable.
Solving this required a simple compromise using both the daylight and flash. Here is the result using f11 1/125 sec, 400 ISO. I also got a little further back to allow the ring flash to do it’s job better. The result is sharper and more evenly exposed. The only catch is the colour balance, which will always be an issue as the colour temp of daylight changes through the day.
Finally, for completeness I got the tripod out of hiding and did this at f20 1/4 sec, 400 ISO
Here is the set used.
To complement that well worn pair of gardening shoes is one of a pair of gardening gloves.
A chance encounter hanging out the washing. Classic rule of thirds composition because it worked.
Important tips when photographing flowers if there is the slightest breeze…
Don’t do it!
Okay, sometimes that isn’t a choice so you can improve your chances with this advice.
- Try and secure the stem to save reframing the image every few seconds.
- Assume your depth of field is insufficient and increase it by at least two stops, especially as you get within an arm’s length of your subject. f5.6 won’t deliver the sharpness that f16 will at that distance.
- Keep your shutter speed high to avoid blur. More wind equals higher shutter speed.
- Assuming you do steps 2 and 3, raising the ISO on your camera is the only way to have both.
- Never assume the focal point you chose will be what you end up with. Try and wait for the breeze to back off then press the shutter button.
Here is the same plant on a calmer day…