Written By onci on Monday, August 17, 2009 | 6:26 PM
It Ain’t just Birds by Fabiola Forns
I don’t know about the rest of you bird photographers, but Alfred and I have to make use of the off birding season somehow and we have found that the summer, where our bird photography is limited, is when the bugs thrive in all the local parks, so it is a nice change of pace, and something to do to keep the need to shoot going.
We both use the Sigma 180 macro, mine for Nikon, his for Canon, with the corresponding 1.4X teleconverter. That particular Sigma (and the 150 macro) is tack sharp and the only third party lens we own. Our equipment also includes three extension tubes (25mm only), used only in need to get very small insects such as flies, because of the loss of light, the twin macro flashes and a light, small carbon fiber tripod.
We work in manual mode, since the depth of field is so limited that close, we want to make sure to place the focus exactly where we want it. We do not use Liveview and enlarge because subjects are alive and move quickly, no time for too many calculations, so fine tune your focus the best you can from the viewfinder and take as many exposures as the subject will allow before moving away.
Although we work with plenty of light, mostly mornings after 9AM, parks schedule, by the time you use the teleconverter and maybe one or two extension tubes, your shutter speed is compromised, so we have opted to use very high ISO, cleaning the image after with noise reduction. As opposed to birds, we have no feathers to worry about, so you can use very aggressive noise reduction. For instance, the spotted cucumber beetle, with the pink background, was done with the D300, at ISO 3200. I use Noiseware Pro and Alfred uses Topaz Denoise.
As with birds, the background is just as important as the subject and many times we pass a great insect because of where he is located. We use both the wide open look as well as the more depth of field, and we have also played with taking different focal points and merging them. I do this by hand and Alfred has used the Helicon focus, created for this purpose.
Insects and flowers have been kind to us and have provided many hours of capture and enjoyment and we hope they can do it for you too.
Posted by onci at 6:26 PM