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Eric Gofreed / 24,592 items

N 121 B 744 C 44 E May 7, 2019 F Jun 13, 2019
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Mostra di rettili "DRAGONS" allestita nel museo di storia naturale di Genova

Tags:   lucertola dal collare orientale lucertola campestre rettili sauri animali cattività dragons museo di storia naturale di genova Genova rettilario

N 57 B 507 C 13 E Jun 14, 2019 F Jun 16, 2019
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A juvenile Common Blackbird forages for food in the garden.

Tags:   Common Blackbird Turdus merula wild bird Gloucestershire juvenile

N 26 B 449 C 3 E Jun 16, 2019 F Jun 16, 2019
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This photo wasn’t something I expected to create today – all I wanted was a Medlar flower but things had a way of evolving from there! Read on for all the details, but don’t forget to check out my macro tutorial book on Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/donkom/macro-photography/ - it covers this type of photography extensively!

Medlars are a fruit of antiquity, rarely seen today. This is in part to the way they look (the French translation of the name basically means “the dog’s behind”), and partly because of how they have to be eaten. In late autumn when the leaves fall off the tree, the fruit is still not ready to eat. It requires bletting, which is a fancy word for rotting, before you can consume it. With an applesauce-like texture, it’s apparently quite the treat! Anyhow, I had a suspicion that the flowers would fluoresce – I was right!

While selecting a flower to bring into my studio, I noticed a leaf of a nearby plant with a ladybug, apparently being harassed by three ants. I wasn’t surprised as ladybugs love to eat aphids, and ants love to protect them for their “honeydew”… which is essentially sugary aphid pee. “What unpredictable element will this ladybug add to the photo?” I thought, while I set up the flower.

Pro tip: whenever there is an element of chaos in your work, try to make everything else a “known quantity” as best as possible before tackling the one thing that is difficult to control. In this instance, four UV flashes are set up at point-blank range just outside of the frame, focus and exposure is tested and adjustments made. The shot looks good – it’s just missing the actor. Using the stem of a discarded flower, it wasn’t difficult to get the ladybug to climb onto it. These insects like to climb upward, so keeping a slight incline on the 8-inch stem allowed me enough time to guide the red-shelled beetle to the flower, waiting patiently with my finger on the shutter.

Almost immediately, the ladybug took a chomp at one of the pollen-covered stamens! This was the third image taken, and the only one where the beetle was actually in focus. Pure, dumb luck – everything else was buttoned down, and I was hoping for some type of interaction like this. The actor here was moving quickly, as evidenced from the blur on its front left leg (camera right). This is a flash exposure with no ambient light, albeit with the flashes at 1:1 maximum output so the flash duration is longer; motion has to be considerably fast to blur when using flash! All the more reason why I consider this shot lucky – and instant before or after, I wouldn’t have this.

Once I saw this image on the back of my camera, I knew I could build on it. The first step was to shift the focus slightly to get another frame with more of the stamens in focus for stacking purposes – this is a two-image focus stack. I didn’t need them all sharp, just a little more to work with. The stacking was done manually because of all the overlapping areas of detail. The image was cropped and edited for colour, contrast, texture, all the basic stuff that you should do to such an image with local adjustments removing unwanted fibers and distracting specks. The ladybugs shell was surprisingly fluorescing very close to its natural red colour, and that was nudged a bit closer to help the image feel partly familiar, partly an otherworldly fantasy.

Shot on a Lumix S1R with the 24-105 F/4 kit lens – a great performer for macro work even though it isn’t a macro lens! ISO 2000, F/9, 1/250sec.

Want more details to create images like this? You’ll find every technique and “secret” all spelled out in my upcoming macro photography book currently on Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/donkom/macro-photography/ - If you enjoy my work, I’d appreciate your support and you’ll get one of the best macro photography books ever written in return. :)

P.S. The Medlar (Mespilus germanica) has a few mentions in literature over the years, the most famous from the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet:
Now will he sit under a medlar tree,
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.
O Romeo, that she were, O that she were
An open-arse and thou a pop'rin pear!

Just as the French called the fruit a “dog’s behind”, the English called them “open-arses”! The play is often found re-written to be a little more polite. Trust me, the fruit is nowhere near as beautiful as the flowers.

Tags:   medlar flower ladybug insect beetle floral nature UV UVIVF fluorescent fluorescing fluorescence ultraviolet glowing science physics pollen stamens lumix lumixstories S1R LumixS1R macro

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