Macro-glorious (almost).

Before I sign off on my grasshoppers and dragonflies for the week here are two final images. You have seen both species before. Firstly, the dragonfly Trithemis aurora (female).

I post this to show just how good the Canon 180mm F3.5 lens is and how hard it is to get the shot you really want.

I think the detail in this image is excellent. That is nothing to do with my photography. I simply think the lens is exceptionally sharp and “all” I have to do is get the focus and exposure correct.  I achieved those here. The histogram is pretty much spot on.

The focus looks good at 100%. But what I don’t like is the white petals of the Bidens alba below. I tried to patch them out but it looked messy. I could not get the cleanliness I wanted. I could easily clone out or spot heal the white on the left but for me the damage is done. So this fails but I still like it…… almost. Its hard not to like the beauty of the dragonfly.

You can not always choose the angle from which you wish to shoot. As usual I have a fence between me and the insect and I tried all sorts of angles but I could not get the shot I wanted of the dragonfly without the petals in the frame. The best I could do was work out the minimum DoF that would have the dragonfly sharp and the plant blurred. If I had been totally confident that the dragonfly would sit still I could have opened up wider and taken a series of images to stack. The challenge is you don’t know how long it will sit absolutely still. I only had two frames of this one.

Number two is perhaps a naughty one. Don’t worry, there are no Las Vegas billiard hall scenes here.

This the third of three shots I took of this individual grasshopper yesterday. You saw one of the others in the last post.

I liked it because it was an unusual position and it was if the grasshopper was hiding from me. And then I twigged that that is probably exactly what it was doing. So I didn’t take any more. Rule number one is that the welfare of the animal always comes first and I don’t know what disturbed this grasshopper. I had been happily photographing others at close range and using a soft fill flash with a diffuser. None had been bothered as far as I could tell. But each creature has a circle of fear, which you can not cross without spooking it. Birders know this all to well. I suspect this one didn’t like the fill flash. This too has a sub-optimal background even though I shot at F5, which is wide open on the 180mm lens once you add the 1.4x TC. So frustrating.

Macro or close-up photography is fun and there are some wonderful exponents around, whose work I envy greatly. It is rare for everything to come together. Most are ‘almost but not quite’. That doesn’t stop me trying or persevering.

Have a good weekend.


Full Frontal dragonfly

I went back to the shots of the world’s best dragonfly this morning, thinking I might cull a few more. This one caught my eye second or third time round and it has had very little processing. On reflection, I quite like this.

Trithemis aurora frontal view

Then I looked again at Monday’s shots. I processed two but one I subsequently decided not to post as the critical focus was fractionally out. This was the only other one I preserved.

Ceratina cognata

This is a small carpenter bee, identified from that old stalwart, Insecta Hongkongica. I’d like the left antenna a little sharper but that will have to be for another shoot. I think it still just about passes muster.

If it stops raining this afternoon I am going out again to see if I can find the multi-coloured grasshoppers as I am still without an ID. Wish me luck 🙂



The world’s best dragonfly?

This morning was one of those days when I did not think I was going to find anything much to photograph. The chaps at LNEC had been “clearing up” by cutting down and it seemed virtually all my favourite sites had been given a crew cut. The flowers were silent that had 24 hours ago sported heads buzzing with bees and been bedecked with butterflies. The angry buzzing was not the wasps I wanted to photograph but the strimmers.

I did manage a few shots but only towards the end did I find a dragonfly that simply insisted on being photographed. And well, it would have been rude not to. It had picked out a piece of bamboo cane near the sundial. And although it took off every few minutes, over a half hour period it never once failed to return to the same spot. It outlasted me I have to admit. I went home for lunch before the dragonfly had finished posing. It offered me endless different wing positions, abdomen up, abdomen horizontal, dipped etc. etc. The only thing not playing ball was the sun. It insisted on glaring at my dragonfly all the time and so sadly there was some reflection off the wings but hey ho, we can’t have everything. What I needed was a glamorous assistant to hold a sunshade but sadly Mrs. Ha had gone window shopping, not alas for windows but for her own idea of things that sparkle and shine.

Here was my final choice of shot of Miss LNEC, August 2012.

Trithemis aurora – female

I also found one rather tolerant butterfly.

Chilades pandava

Nothing flash, nothing gaudy, not too much bling…… Just a pretty little Lycaenidae. And happily out of the sun.

But my piece de resistance was what I think is another wasp although I have yet to have it confirmed that it is a Scollidae or ground wasp. Not as in your face as the odonate but something I had not photographed before. And it was so magical, I made it disappear……. just like that.

Now you see it:

Now you (almost) don’t:

Yes, the wasp buzzed off and left me again in the company only of strimmers.

And finally, another shot of our friend the potter wasp or Norman to his chums.

Delta pyriforme

The red blur in the background is a “STOP” sign but I ignored it and carried on. In Hong Kong all road signs are advisory and optional. And there’s an awful lot of people believe that.

I took it to mean “Proceed to lunch.” And I did.

Until next time…………..