/////Camera gear and what should I be shooting?
Camera gear and what should I be shooting?2017-08-15T06:47:59+02:00

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Camera gear and what should I be shooting?

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  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Emulating from the “Diagnosing a (Technacly) bad photo” I think it best to begin with the equipment I have and then move on to what I would like to shoot.

    1) I have two cameras. Canon 350D and Canon 7D mk2.

    2) Lenses comprise of Canon 16-35 F4, [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, Canon 100mm f/2.8 is Macro and the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary.

    3) Kenko 2X teleconverter.

    4) Manfroto tripod with quick release head. Camera steady with Bendro gimble head, Small monopod.

    5) I do not have any on camera flash lights. I do have some aquarium LED lights that color and intensity can be adjusted. I also have an apogee Quantum light meter that measures PAR.

    6) I have a Trigger Trap shutter release and the Formatt Hitec 100mm filter atachment with the Firecrest ND 3.0 filter.

    7) Ikelite underwater housing for the canon 350 D. I use the 18-55 canon lens on this setup.

    8) Fugi F80 point and shoot with under water housing and strobe.

    Other than the odd UV and polarizing filter and some camera bags that basically sums up my equipment.

    What I like to shoot…

    1) Bird photography and wildlife.

    2) Landscapes and waterfalls.

    3) Underwater Photography.

    4) Macro flowers and the odd insect.

    I would like to first discuss Macro Photography and get some feed back on the images I have posted so far. You can view them in the Macro section in the gallery. Most of the recent ones are mine. I do not expect to receive and in depth crit on each and every photo. But I would like to receive an overall comment on any glaring mistakes and suggestions on what i should not be doing. Like choices of backgrounds, composition and technique.

    Most of the Macro shots were staged and the camera was mounted on the Camera steady. Most were manually focused and all were processed in LR5.

    [/FONT]

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    GIve a link to a specific macro image – then we discuss

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Ok lets discuss this image.

    http://www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=374106&title=cactus&cat=548

    I am going to run through how I set up the photo and the equipment I used and the camera settings used.
    The 7D mk2 and 100mm Macro lens was used. It was mounted on the “Camera steady” with a Benro GH2 Gimbal head. The subject was aproximately at a 400mm focus distance. The table used is very steady and the subject and “camera steady” were both on the table.

    I am shooting in manual mode. The image stabilization was switched off (no image stabilization) and focus was manual. I wanted to get good DOF so I decreased the Aperture to f32 and had an exposure of 30.0s. ISO was 100. I did not lock-up the mirror and I used the 10s shutter release. There was no wind as the photo was taken indoors at 18h14. The lighting in the room was a household LED fixture that looks like a 4ft florescent fixture. I don’t think that that LED light produces any flicker.

    The issue I have with this image is the DOF. I manually focused on the yellowish node as that is where I could get most of the image in focus.

    Simon did help with a crit and it helped a lot.

    If you don’t know, this is what a “camera steady” looks like. https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/camerasteady-Outdoorphoto

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    I forgot to add. The original image size was 5472 x 3648 and was cropped slightly to 5262 x 3508.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    My first question (and I am not the macro fundi – ask that man Simon)

    the macro lens – what is the optimal aperture on the lens, if it has any, and did you consider it

    what could you do to get more light on the subject – did you consider shooting near a window?

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @elsahoffmann 297524 wrote:

    My first question (and I am not the macro fundi – ask that man Simon)

    the macro lens – what is the optimal aperture on the lens, if it has any, and did you consider it

    what could you do to get more light on the subject – did you consider shooting near a window?

    Elsa I did not consider the optomim aperture. I was more concerned with DoF. I beleave the sweet spot is f11 – f16.

    With regards to light. Most of my macro shooting is done at night so I would have to consider artificial lighting.

    I have considered going the stacking rout but want to get the basic principles nailed down first before I go out and purchase ring flashes and continuous lighting.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    Like I said – I am not a macro fundi….
    And yes the image is soft.
    I also struggle with getting my macros sharp ๐Ÿ™ (and Simon says he will teach me better)
    I personally dont like such a long exposure – and perhaps you can do something about your light set up?
    I know some use camera flash – and off camera flash would obviously be better as you can bounce it nicely.
    if not – can you diffuse your on board flash?
    (I am not sure what you mean by “on camera flash lights”)
    I assume you already did some sharpening on the image

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Elsa the only flash I have is the one that pops up on the camera. So yes no speed flashlights. Nothing attached to the hot shoe on top of the camera and nothing synced.

    Ok so what I am reading into the discussion is that I should be looking at trying to get the lighting to where the exposure is decreased. Not having speed or strobe flash light this would have to be some sort of continuous lighting that will not cause any flicker or color temperature change. Soft boxes and the like to be DIY’ed. Try and shoot at the lens optimum “sweet spot”. Use a stacking technique to get DoF.

    I do not have Photoshop to do the stacking process. Can it be done in Gimp2, Paint.net, Blender or any other freeware.

    Can we now discuss the composition and background choice. I know that it is subjective but was the subject worth shooting and did it have a positive impact?

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Wow I just remembered. I do have a flash light that I used for my Fuji under water setup. It is triggered by the on board camera flash. Will test it out. That has a defuser that can be used and also has that flexible arm so that it can be positioned easily.

    This is what I have. Will it work?
    https://www.dpreview.com/articles/2526559610/fujifilmremoraflash

    Thank you for jerking my memory and giving me ideas.

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2148

    @ Keith – your gear as listed: The 2x Kenko – don’t use that on any of your lenses, results will be “less than good” if you are just a little nitpicky on IQ
    Lenses are good for most types of shooting, what you intend to do with them. Learn their shortcomings – for example the 150-600 C works best in better lighting and stopped down to f7.1 or 8
    The 70-300 is also mid-range at best, stop down to f8 for better results.
    The 350D can still take good images….I sometimes use my ancient D30 (dating from 2001) to kick butt and show it can be done.

    Macro of the cactus – not true macro, rather close-up to use the technically correct term. macro is 1:1 ratio, on your 100mm macro at minimum focus distance which is around 31 cm.
    DoF will always be a problem, and with the design of macro lenses the sweet spot effect doesn’t really come into effect. they are good through all f-stops. If you need more DoF from f32, stand further back and crop a little more. Have a look at dofmaster.com and learn how DoF is influenced by camera body/sensor size, distance, f stop and focal length. Then measure the DoF your require, and calculate the nearest correct lens/aperture/sensor combination to achieve that at the required distance. Sometime you can only go so far with DoF, and that’s where stacking comes in in macro…..taking multiple images of a subject and running them through stacking software to “build” you an image with more DoF. Tedious and long process. The biggest enemy (and best friend) of macro is limited DoF. Google Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus, they seem to be industry leaders on stacking software at this time.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @simondp 297529 wrote:

    @ Keith – your gear as listed: The 2x Kenko – don’t use that on any of your lenses, results will be “less than good” if you are just a little nitpicky on IQ
    Lenses are good for most types of shooting, what you intend to do with them. Learn their shortcomings – for example the 150-600 C works best in better lighting and stopped down to f7.1 or 8
    The 70-300 is also mid-range at best, stop down to f8 for better results.
    The 350D can still take good images….I sometimes use my ancient D30 (dating from 2001) to kick butt and show it can be done.

    Macro of the cactus – not true macro, rather close-up to use the technically correct term. macro is 1:1 ratio, on your 100mm macro at minimum focus distance which is around 31 cm.
    DoF will always be a problem, and with the design of macro lenses the sweet spot effect doesn’t really come into effect. they are good through all f-stops. If you need more DoF from f32, stand further back and crop a little more. Have a look at dofmaster.com and learn how DoF is influenced by camera body/sensor size, distance, f stop and focal length. Then measure the DoF your require, and calculate the nearest correct lens/aperture/sensor combination to achieve that at the required distance. Sometime you can only go so far with DoF, and that’s where stacking comes in in macro…..taking multiple images of a subject and running them through stacking software to “build” you an image with more DoF. Tedious and long process. The biggest enemy (and best friend) of macro is limited DoF. Google Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus, they seem to be industry leaders on stacking software at this time.

    Thank you for the indepth info Simon. I will look into all you say.

    Should I be looking at extension tubes and macro rail sliders as a next step?

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Is there a basic check box one can use to ensure that one is set up correctly? A twenty point must do and check list would be nice. Something newbies can check off and ensure that the basic rules are applied. What are these rules anyway? Elsa had some good points in the “Diagnosing a (Technically) bad photo” thread. Can we expand on these where composition and background choices are a consideration.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    I am interested in comments on this image.

    http://www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=374088&title=baby-bird-&cat=500

    In this image I wanted to show off the pastel colors of the orchard and the vascular paths. I wanted to get the natural light to shine through from the back of the flower. Water mist was added to get the “bird like” to perspire. Whilst I think I nailed the perspiration and water droplet aspect, the vascular paths and back lighting are lacking. Suggestions on how to improve this image would be appreciated.

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2148

    Extension tubes and macro rail sliders (ie bellows mounting attachments) are good for getting more than 1:1 ratio, can get as high as 5:1 with the right equipment, and the results dramatic limiting of DoF. If that is your aim, and shooting static subjects froma dead rest, and using stacking software to merge fifty or more shots into one image, then go for it.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you Simon. I think I will first give focusing at different points then stack them and see if that is the rout i want to take before purchasing the slider.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    I have no direct experience with stacking, but I understand that getting good results is quite difficult. Read Michael Erlewine’s work (and look at his amazing images) on the Nikongear forum: http://nikongear.net/revival/index.php/topic,6014.0.html

    He seems to be doing very much what you are aiming for (with macro anyway), but much more seriously.

    Another thing I have no experience with is the Benro gimbal head. However, I do a lot of star photography, so shoot a fair amount of 30 second exposures. From this experience, I can say that everything has to be absolutely steady. My own gimbal head is nowhere near sturdy enough, and due to the long arms, I doubt many gimbals are.

    If you have acheived multiple sharp images using this setup, then ignore my comment. I remember that the abovementioned photographer has found that his house’s floor is not sturdy enough, and has needed to take special steps to stabilize it. From the above, I also suspect that even a slight breeze would move the plant enough to affect sharpness.

    I would definately try some test shots with a similar setup, but using whatever means necessary to get a faster shutter speed (even to the point of lifting ISO), just to see what effect that has.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    Sorry – some of us actually work sometimes – and I am finished after a 4 hour studio shoot.

    Your underwater strobe – I havent done u/w stuff and owned equipment for a decade – so you have to test it.

    I would stay away from stacking until such time as you have the close ups under control and you are comfortable that when get a problem – that you know how to address it and sort it out. Stacking can result in really bad artifacts – even with the best equipment and software. Ditto extension tubes and focussing rails.

    You need to get technically -wise. When you see an issue – you should be able to work it out – work thru everything you did – and see what you could or should have done different. (building on your experience) it comes with time. No cookie cutter one size fits all solution

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for the information Peter. I will definitely look up Michael Erlewine’s work. Oh I did find this series from Michael’s work. I will be watching into the early hours of the morning I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚ https://youtu.be/6ruemLwqrbo

    Also thank you Elsa for your input as well. Most appreciated.

    And a big thank you to Simon for always helping and giving suggestions. Every bit of information is slowly sinking in. Now for me to put it in practice.

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    You want to stack – this set up by Bob cost him around $15 000 – mostly secondhand from E-bay

    image: http://www.pbase.com/bobfriedman/image/161094677
    setup: http://www.pbase.com/bobfriedman/image/161259960

    no less that a 250 image stack. Have you ANY idea of the DOF involved? It takes at least 30 minutes to stack such an image. and believe me – you dont get it right first or second or third time. And then you have to fix the artifacts

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Yup, those sort of setups are a bit out of my reach. However my inspiration for Macro came from a South African friend who did marine aquariums with me. Waldo immigrated to Winnipeg in Canada around 2006. You can google “Waldo Nell Photography” his various setups one of which involves fancy microscopes to photograph marine algae cells, flat worms and protozoans etc. What rekindled my inspiration and urged me to take out the forgotten macro lens, was seeing the peacocks at Rondebult. Here it a link to Waldo’s work on Peacocks and their feathers. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3534452/No-wonder-peacocks-proud-plumes-Beautiful-close-images-capture-birds-feathers-iridescent-glory.html

    Here is his portfolio..

    https://www.waldonell.com/photos

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/pwnell/with/14326832633/

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    impressive work!

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Hi Bonnita, I am not engaged that much in underwater photography anymore. I last dived about four years ago. But when I was most divers were using Light Room. I think that is still the case today.

  • Leo Theron
    Participant
    Post count: 1582

    Keith,

    Google “Hendrik Louw Photography Macro” and look at his images…

    And check here: http://www.pbase.com/leot/macro2016

    The majority of the examples were taken out of hand, lit with a flash gun – in all the cases the flashguns and cameras were handheld.

    There are two things about Macro – there is Zero (or very little) DOF and everything depends on the lighting. SO: Unless you can control the lighting you are buggered. Last but not least – as you close down your aperture diffraction will rear its head and destroy the sharpness that you are looking for…

    Stacking? With the Olympus OMD-EM1 and EM1 mk II, using the Olympus 60mm macro lens, you have in camera stacking… the camera (after being set up CORRECTLY!) will shoot and stack your images. Results are really AMAZING.

    Google around and see what people are using to soften flashes for macro – I think that waterless flash of yours might even work well!

    HTH

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for the input Leo. I am half way through watching all the videos of Michael Erlewine. They are really informative. I will definitely look at Hendrik Louw’s work when I am done with the videos.

    Regarding lighting.. In the marine reef keeping hobby I have played around with LED lighting quite a lot. To grow corals lighting is very important. I have a number of high quality LED chips that I will DIY into an adjustable light source. Even to the point of venturing into UV induced fluorescence with 360nm LED’s. I will start a thread on this build.

    Perhaps Simon could help here. Is there any software available that could reverse stack an image. In other words, one takes a single shot and the software slices the image into the different focus planes.

  • Leo Theron
    Participant
    Post count: 1582

    Reverses stack? Not possible. Stacking takes the in-focus parts and put them together – so you start with the different focus areas and you build an image consisting of the focussed parts of a high number of images. If you wanna stack – it is a lot of work…

    Lighting… My take: Flashes is the way to go – lots of light, very high duration and quite easy to build a simple diffuser.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @leo Theron 297562 wrote:

    Reverses stack? Not possible. Stacking takes the in-focus parts and put them together – so you start with the different focus areas and you build an image consisting of the focussed parts of a high number of images. If you wanna stack – it is a lot of work…

    I am fast learning the difference between DoF and focus/focal plane and how focus stacking works, thanks to you and everyone that is contributing here and being very helpful. The software I seek, is to produce different focus planes of an image whether in focus or not. These “focus planes” could then be sharpened or brought into focus and automatically or manually adjusted, and then re-stacked. It was just a thought that this sort of software might be available. It would be great if it was available. One could then shoot moving subjects and get the parts one wants to be in focus at the electronic dark room.

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2148

    @keith Baxter 297563 wrote:

    The software I seek, is to produce different focus planes of an image whether in focus or not. These “focus planes” could then be sharpened or brought into focus and automatically or manually adjusted, and then re-stacked. It was just a thought that this sort of software might be available. It would be great if it was available. One could then shoot moving subjects and get the parts one wants to be in focus at the electronic dark room.

    Everybody wants that, if you can develop that…you’ll be a very very rich man very quickly!!! Pipe dream for now…

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @simondp 297565 wrote:

    Everybody wants that, if you can develop that…you’ll be a very very rich man very quickly!!! Pipe dream for now…

    Interesting concept… Software might just be around the corner ๐Ÿ™‚

    https://www.wired.com/2015/10/light-l16-camera/

    Uncovering all sorts of interesting info as I get deeper into this…. starting to get mind boggling….

    https://sites.google.com/site/marclevoy/Tutorial

    I am starting to ask myself. Should one keep it KISS or move along with this complicated world?????

    But hay, we are inquisitive by nature and nature is awesome and what we want to photograph. Right?

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @leo Theron 297560 wrote:

    Keith,

    Google “Hendrik Louw Photography Macro” and look at his images…

    And check here: http://www.pbase.com/leot/macro2016

    HTH

    Leo I have browsed Hendrik’s images. Thank you for the pointer. There is a lot to learn from their, it has given me food for thought and loads of aspiration.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    So this morning I have been playing around with focus stacking. Please crit for me.

    ISO 100
    Aperture f3.2
    Exposure 25

    http://www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=374149&title=red-lilly&cat=548

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    done

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you Elsa.

    An improvement on the sharpness of the bee. Definitely the 30cm behind the camera and steadiness. Perhaps to stop down one or two more?

    http://www.outdoorphoto.community/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=374150&title=bee&cat=548

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3716

    I commented.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Yup, thank you.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @elsahoffmann 297581 wrote:

    I commented.

    Yup Thank you.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Right I have experienced two issues. This came about by the discovery of live view. I have been manually focusing through the view finder. Lesson learnt, never manual focus through the view finder, use live view. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1) The camera mount ( Manfrotto tripod and quick release) is definitely not steady enough. Every time I touch the lens to adjust focus the whole camera and lens shakes. This causes issues when stacking as the frames are out of alignment and do not line up.

    2) If I focus on a subject and observe live view, the focused subject remains steady in live view. However, using trigger trap on my iPhone, when I press the red button on the iPhone the shutter-up function takes place and during the 2 or 10 second delay the image jumps around in the live view screen. This causes the images not to line up and not to be sharp. This is true even when I take several shots without touching the camera and just operating the trigger trap via my iPhone.

    Issue one I know what is necessary to resolve, but issue two has me baffled. Any suggestions please.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    Issue 1 and 2 are the same. You need a really solid, sturdy (and probably heavy) setup, or you need to increase your lighting to the point where you can run a decent shutter speed at a reasonable aperture.

    Probably a bit of both, in fact.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    @peter Connan 297586 wrote:

    Issue 1 and 2 are the same. You need a really solid, sturdy (and probably heavy) setup, or you need to increase your lighting to the point where you can run a decent shutter speed at a reasonable aperture.

    Probably a bit of both, in fact.

    Peter you are most helpful and encouraging, thank you for your input. Going to purchase some “Starter Lighting” tomorrow. Going to be a one flash effort initially to a eventually a two or more flash one. Short notice, if you see early , please give pointers.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    Unfortunately i don’t have any specefic product knowledge on systems that will work with your camera.

    My own (now very dusty) setup consists of two old pre-digital-camera-age hotshoe flashes on tiny little ball-heads on a home-made bracket. They each vave a slave and the whole lot is driven by the built-in flash set to lowest power, and exposure is regulated by diffusing the flashes and by fiddling with aperture and ISO, as the flashes have a fixed output.

    I once tried a ring-flash, and would not recommend that.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for responding Peter. Much appreciated.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Ok so the 60x60mm light tent was acquired. Opened it with enthusiasm and cannot get it to fold back into it’s bag. How the hell do they think of these ways to store things that requires a science degree to pack away. Going to have to try and find a YouTube clip on how to pack it away.

    Also got the The Yongnuo[FONT=arial, sans-serif] YN565 flash unit. Wow… I don’t know how good this model is compared to others, but I do know that I am seriously impressed in what a difference a flash light can do. Sorry guys but you’s are going to get photo bombed some more with my learning attempts. LOL[/FONT]

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    WOW one can get up really close with the extension tubes. Took a batch of images this morning and put them on the big screen. I am going to have to redo them as the orchid’s have a lot of dust and dirt on them and will have to be sprayed with water and dried. Just to much to fix in PS. But getting some nice effects playing around with the flash and permanent LED lighting.

    The 60 x 60cm light tent, yes I managed to find out how to pack it away, went in to the sewing shop this morning to have the bottom cut out and and a hem sewn in so that I can place the tent over flora in the garden to stop the wind. Can’t wait to get it back to try it out.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Tent box received back from the sewing shop this afternoon. Cant wait for tomorrow to test it out.

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