The weekend arrives, hence the Shutter Therapy continues.
This particular session was much looked forward too, since it was the first Macro-Photography Outing organized by the Olympus forumers at Mychiaroscuro.net. There were proper introductory explanations and tips given by the sifu RED who was kind enough to share some of his experience and knowledge with us all. I am not entirely new to macro considering my numerous previous attempts, but going macro shooting in a huge group of people was somehow refreshing for a change, and also eye opening.
The location of the macro outing was suggested by RED himself and situated at Kemensah which is pretty nearby to the Zoo Negara itself. I have become very fond of macro these days, and ever since I got my macro lens with the external flash, I went macro frenzy almost every weekend. Unfortunately, since I usually shoot alone, and do not have any portable mode of transport, I could only dare to shoot at places that are safe and accessible via LRT and walking distance. For really cool and unusual looking insects or bugs, you have gotta venture deeper into the forest, and this was exactly what I was doing with the bunch of Oly Macro Crazy dudes this morning. Boy what an adventure !!
Note: This has got to be the weirdest looking spider I have come across so far. I told you I found a horny spider !!!
We took a mini jungle trail and hiked for almost an hour to reach the intended destination, which was one of the many waterfalls around the Kemensah area. It could have been a 15 minutes hike, but well, we were not on the rush anyway, and the main theme of the outing itself is also having great, relaxing outdoor fun. No point exhausting ourselves. After a short breakfast by the waterfall, we obviously started by shooting the waterfall !! So here you go, I covered two waterfalls at two different places in two consecutive weekends !! I dare say that the previous weekend at Terkala which I went with Darryl had a better looking waterfall than this one. Nevertheless, the main purpose of this trip was Macro.
It was really interesting to witness so many different approaches to macro. The usual ones, or something you would call ordinary would be like my setup which is just the plain macro lens and an external flash. There were other alternatives, some I have not even seen before (but not unheard of), such as the reverse macro ring adapted to the standard kit lens and magnifier lens like Raynox 250. The diffusing techniques on the flash was even more astounding, there were plastered whole sheet of A4 paper tied to the flash with rubber band !! As dodgy as this sounded, as I witnessed the results, it actually worked VERY well. Now screw the RM50 omni-bounce diffuser I bought for my flash. Geez.
Being in the real jungle itself, a heck lot more opportunities opened themselves up. There were plentiful more insects that you could not find outside the jungle, and somehow, I believe that those bugs were comfortable at their own habitats that they did not seem to be easily scared off. I could get really close to them, as close as 4-5cm away from the front of my lens, and they were still cool and not flying/running away, doing whatever they were doing. Of course this does not apply to all insects, but the hunting process itself was significantly easier inside the jungle.
On photography side of things, I utilized the method I have always been using, which is holding the camera with the right hand, and the external flash being fired off camera with my left hand. Camera settings were almost constant throughout all situations at 1/40 seconds shutter speed, aperture of f/11-16, ISO100-200 and full time manual focus.. I have been using this technique for quite some time now, and I know shooting at 1/40 seconds single handedly sounds uninviting, but I have become comfortable with this for some unknown reasons. Of course there will be hit and misses, but hey, that is also why we take several shots of a similar subjects and only choose the few that comes out tack sharp in focus.
I do think that my flash direction via wireless could be improved further. It was quite difficult to predict which direction worked the best, and I had to do a few trial and errors to find the best illumination on my subjects. I am not so concerned on the shadows, but priority was given on lighting the subject up adequately, and bringing out the fine details. Preventing highlight burns was also in consideration, but comparing this attempt with my previous sessions, I believe I have done a few improvements. I am quite happy with the overall turnout this time, and I did manage to hit the places with sufficient flash firepower as I intended. Theres heaps of room for improvement, and I shall save that for future attempts.
I have also met so many new people this time around. It was good to see that the Olympus group is growing in size steadily, and more and more people do feel that what Olympus has got to offer in DSLR is suiting thier style and taste in photography.
You have got to admit that Olympus offers really good value for money when it comes to certain areas, such as Macro-Photography. A macro lens capable 2 to 1 magnification ratio (200% enlargement from original size), the Zuiko 35mm F3.5 Macro selling at merely RM700 (or cheaper depending on where you hunt for your copy) has got to be the best deal out there. Other manufacturers would come up with a macro lens costing RM1.5k and above.
If you question the usablity of this 35mm budget macro lens from Olympus, since you have to get very close to the subjects, I dare say that I have nothing to complain while using it. If you question the Image quality, well, just check out the pictures in this entry. It is darn sharp for a budget lens at such low price point.
This was also my first time encountering leeches !!! Those little vampires, gosh... they were everywhere in the jungle. You can see them crawling around on the leaves, bushes, the ground, everywhere! They were flocking my pants, and luckily only ONE got into my legs, but I did not know until I saw blood marks from my pants. As I checked where the leech was, I could not find it, probably it decided that my blood was not tasty enough hence just took off. But one of the guys got the blood flowing out so badly that i seemed like he cut his leg deeply. Leech, gotta hate it, but can't avoid it.
I do have more shots of even more wicked looking spiders, but they come out of focus, unfortunately. The spiders hanging on their webs were particularly difficult to photograph, since the webs were always wobbling due to the wind.
I am not sure if you guys see what I see, but I believe this entry shows how much I do love macro shooting, and why I love doing it. Seeing the tiny creatures from a different perspective kind of opened up an entirely new world, a world that we cannot see with our naked eyes.
I cannot wait for another macro outing already !!