Red is the colour (maybe)

A dear friend of Mrs. Ha sent her some flowers on her birthday. Thank you, Alice.

I wanted to take a snap so that she could see what Interflounder had despatched. I showed the image to Mrs. Ha and she promptly demanded I take a second shot with a different camera. Mrs. Ha, you see, once gave me a rather splendid birthday gift – a Leica M9. I invested in some decent lenses for it and since then any other camera has taken a rather distant second place in Mrs. Ha’s eyes. I rather fancied my Canon 5D3 and 85mm F1.2 lens were just the ticket but under orders out came the M9 with a 90mm F2 lens. Just for good measure I then used a third camera, a Fuji X100. The Fuji has a fixed 35mm F2 lens. The question is, do you get what you pay for? The Fuji would cost, I guess about 1/10 of the Leica kit and about 1/5 of the Canon combo.

I was handholding, no tripod. All shot at ISO400 and F4. No additional processing other than tiny equalisation of exposure.

Here are the results.



V6 Mrs. Ha maintains that one of them has a definite orangey tint to it and bears the poorest resemblance to the original flowers. The other two she debated for a while and then picked out the top version as her favourite.

The challenge is, which camera took version 1? For the record, I find them all acceptable. One of the contradictions of photography in the digital age is that any output tends to be a starting point. We have endless permutations for changing virtually every aspect of the image. Why then do we (I guess this is the “royal we”) insist on spending an arm and a leg on gear that we then process to look like it was shot on a Lomo, a Holga or maybe even a Polaroid. Because to turn version 1 into a “polaroid” takes about 15 seconds.


And that’s fine by me too.

The good thing that came out of this was that I was considering upgrading my X100 to the new X100s with go-faster, glow-in-the-dark, “whew what a scorcher” stripes. And now I’m not. The urge to splurge on new cameras we call GAS or gear acquisition syndrome. Well, for those of you who remember All GAS and Gaiters, all I can say is, “Another glass of sherry, Archdeacon?”

Answers please on a postcard………… etc. etc.



The eye of the skink

More photos from yesterday’s session and a rework of one of the B&W shots in glorious Technicolor.

First, a shot of Lily. That’s Lily the Skink, as made famous by the Scaffold.


These long-tailed skinks are normally notoriously skittish but this one seemed unconcerned as I edged ever so slowly closer. Note the tiny ant crawling on the lizard.


Very close to Lily was Tango, the Orange-tailed sprite.

Orange-tailed sprite

Orange-tailed sprite

I had to photograph Tango through a fence to get a decent angle. I would have liked the tail tip a fraction sharper.

I was always a big Beatles fan. So meet the beetle. Very slow shutter speed hence the moving antennae.

Lema coromandeliana

Lema coromandeliana

Everyone likes a butterfly and here’s Helen. Nectaring on the Lantana.

Papilio helenus

Papilio helenus

Steve likes frogs – how about Mr. Grumpy? Would Lottie give Grumpy a kiss, I wonder?

Mr. Grumpy Toad

Mr. Grumpy Toad

And to round things off, I decided yesterday’s B&W version of the rotting wood didn’t work as well as I had hoped. The rich colours add rather than subtract to this in my view.


Time to do some work now. Until next time.

Damselfly Macro

I thought I would report on a single image today. This is it.

Balancing Act

I took this at the Lion’s Nature Education Centre near Sai Kung.  The EXIF tells me it was 10.26am.

I went out with my wife and the dog and I didn’t really know what to expect. A mid-morning start is rarely productive and it is always a worry to me when I have company. Whilst I am fully occupied it can get pretty boring for the   entourage. However I do find the extra pair of eyes useful at keeping track if the subject moves suddenly. These damselflies were on the small frog pond. As I approached I heard a rapid succession of plops. The frogs saw me coming. So I was left with a pair of Copera ciliata.

The pond has both good and bad aspects. It is difficult to get good access all the way around but it is slightly elevated so it is possible to get the tripod almost down to damselfly level if they are in the right position. A further challenge is getting a decent background. Many of the shots I declined because they simply looked too messy. Finally, these are dark subjects against white lotus flowers. I get confused between water-lilies and lotus plants so do correct me if I am wrong.

Over a 30 minute session I took about 10 frames and this was the one I finally chose. In some instances the damselflies are not parallel to the camera so depth of field was a problem and I wanted the entire insect to be sharp. If the plant was out of focus so much the better. However even here the upper damselfly created a problem because the background is dark whereas the lower one has a white background. The reason I took relatively few frames was because the damselflies were very skittish. As the temperature warms up they become more mobile. I waited for them to settle each time but even slight adjustments to my position or the tripod seemed to spook them. Lengthy disturbance is clearly not good so I left feeling I had not really managed a decent shot. I am always conscious of walking a fine line between getting a good shot and not disturbing the subject unnecessarily.

Composition was helped by a little cropping but not too much. I processed the shot without too much messing around but I did use selective exposure adjustment on the upper damselfly to increase the visibility of the wings. I also made the background slightly darker to help the contrast and desaturated the whites slightly. I ran a sharpening macro and that was about it.

When I posted this image it received more favourable reactions than I had expected. Sometimes you go out and feel the morning has not been very productive. That was my sense when we headed home. However I had two or three other reasonable shots. Strangely, the image above was not my favourite but as soon as I put this image and indeed my preferred picture into the public domain others passed their own verdicts. So be it.

For the techies, this was the Canon 5D mk III with a 180mm F3.5 macro lens on a tripod, ISO 200, 1/250s at F5.0. No flash was used although I did use the flash with a diffuser on later images that morning. My learning journey continues.