I am now back in KL, and I shall resume my working life soon, real soon. But I still have got a little time left for myself, and how should I fully maximize this bit of remaining time?
Go full on Shutter Frenzy of course !!
I find shutter therapy always works in soothing and calming my emotions in whatever situations being thrown to me. There is a need to clear off my mind and prepare for the coming week, and something tells me the accumulated documents piles on my desk tomorrow will not scream "welcome back". Furthermore, it has been a while since I last utilized my macro lens which I added to my gear collections a couple of months back, and do feel a little guilty not fully bringing out its full potential. It has become my favourite lens, though I seldom use it !! What an irony.
Wanting to click the shutter badly, and choosing the macro lens to be mounted on the body, I had a brief shooting session, hunting for dragonflies. I know I have possibly photographed and blogged about dragonflies a dozen times over before, but hey, do cut me some slack. If you have followed and studied my history on how I progressed in macro photography, it would be quite interesting to notice how I slowly improve over each attempt. Nothing overly dramatic, but each step I make forward can be evidently observed.
I did not have to go far, there is a park nearby where I stay in KL where insects and God knows what other unsightly insects do flock together. I was lucky when I chanced upon this particular corner where I could easily spot more than a dozen dragonflies buzzing around !! The thing about photographing dragonfly is the stealth approaching move, you gotta slowly get your ass closer to them without scaring them away. I did scare more than half a dozen away, but I also did manage to get close to just as many and make my captures.
I think my macro photography is still far off from what one can consider "awe-worthy" in standards, but I have achieved what I could not have dreamed of a year ago !! My photo-taking techniques have also evolved so much that sometimes when I look at the way I take my pictures I do wonder if I should be making so much trouble just to get one shot. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge when it comes to macro photography would be lighting, and every photographer has his own way to counter this problem. Some would prefer "ring-flash" or firing multiple flash units attached to an adapter on the camera. As for me, my choice of lighting option is Olympus wireless flash system.
In this particular session, the following tools/tips have been used:
1) Wireless TTL (through the lens) Flash, being fired off camera all the time. I should learn to use manual control on flash next time.
2) Manual Focusing most of the time for precise focusing on the head/eye of the dragonfly. Auto-focus is not entirely reliable at such large magnification scale.
3) Narrow Aperture, F/14 to F/16 to maximize the depth of field.
4) Holding a camera with one hand, and flash on another. I shot all the pictures here at Shutter Speed 1/40 seconds single handedly. Not bad eh?
5) Move myself as close as I can to the dragonfly, at certain instances I was no further away than 5cm only from the eyes.
So how do I feel about the picture output this time?
Again I cannot help it but marvel at the sharpness of the cheapo budget lens, possibly one of the lower end lenses produced by Olympus. Although just merely a very humble budget lens, the image quality does not scream anything budget at all. Stopped down to narrower aperture, the sharpness and the amount of details recorded were simply stunning. Just click on any of the images to have a better look on the sharpness.
The wireless TTL Flash may not be as effective as twin flash or ring flash, but at least it provides a much better option than direct flash. There is still much needed to be improved on the way I improvise the wireless flash method, such as overriding the controls with manual settings which I am not comfortable to try yet.
It is safe to say that I have no problem with focusing already these days, and am very confident shooting my macro works manually. Many people asked me how effective is the built in body Image Stabilization system of Olympus, as opposed to other brands, or other options such as built in lens stabilization system. Well, I have not tried using other systems much yet, but all I can tell you about Olympus IS system is that, I can shoot using the macro lens at 1/30 to 1/40 seconds, single handedly (with manual focus some more mind you) at almost 100% success rate of completely shake-blur free images. I have the pictures on this entry to prove this statement.
For the macro-photographers out there, I believe they would easily spot the errors in my ways, or alternatives to improve the shots. Please do share your views, I appreciate any input I can get to get better shots.
So any of you into macro out there? Let me know, we should go hunt insects together !!