Tachanid on Stem 01

Arty composition of fly on stem. I liked the clean sympathetic background for this one.

Arty composition of fly on stem. I liked the clean sympathetic background for this one.
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Contest Finalist in Covers Photo Contest Vol 25
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15 Comments | Report
hibbz September 16, 2015
Love this image, I like the way you have left enough space for your bug to go down to. Love your background too. Jenny
eelcovanroden PRO+
eelcovanroden September 23, 2015
A great macro... beautifully placed!
estercastillo08 October 25, 2015
Very nice macro, voted Image of the Month
VICKSTAR October 25, 2015
That's just amazing!
ovosphotography October 26, 2015
MilkoStoev October 26, 2015
This is absolutely amazing, how do you even take shots like that!
hjames07 October 31, 2015
Very nice..!!
eelcovanroden PRO+
eelcovanroden November 01, 2015
Congratulations on your Judge favorite, I allready awarded it and twice would be nice but it isn't possible, lol!
KayBrewer Platinum
KayBrewer December 01, 2015
Rod, congratulations - finalist Covers 25 - fabulous detail!

Buttttttt.... we're in competition because I'm a finalist, too - may the best man win!
rmr731 Platinum
rmr731 December 03, 2015
Ugly bug but an amazing macro shot!
lizziemellis Platinum
lizziemellis February 12, 2016
Awesome Shot:-)
nandicmb PRO+
nandicmb February 23, 2016
Congratulations on both your wins!
lizziemellis Platinum
lizziemellis April 02, 2016
Another great macro ..voted a world of macro:-)
aakashdirar777 May 15, 2016
diane_hallam_4401 July 16, 2016
brilliant macro :)
See all

Behind The Lens

I am entirely self taught as a photographer and enjoy nature in all of its guises. This image was taken in Formby in the dune system, which is quite extensive and part of the Sefton coast dune system (which includes the red squirrel reserve at Ainsdale). The unidentified Tachanid is probably on some tough coastal grass like marram or similar, you can see some grains of sand on the stem.
This was in May of 2012, the exif is actually wrong for this image (and majority of my other images for the GX10) because I had the time set wrong the image was probably taken and hour later at about 16.00 hrs. The dune system is on our doorstep and we walk here regularly and also do some wildlife recording as well e.g. I do a bumblebee transect and my young lady records botanical interest. Of course I nearly always have my camera with me.
It was getting late in the day and the sun was low, so there were some nice warm tones in a relatively clear sky. The sun was either parallel or slightly behind my right shoulder, which was ideal. I was quite fortunate with this image as Light, Subject & Background all conspired in my favour i.e. the sun was low, therefore warm tones and soft light (as the sun approaches horizon the suns rays have much further to travel through the atmosphere so become more diffused, the subject was nicely placed so as not to have any distractions and the background was sand, so like the subject was simple and uncluttered allowing the viewer to concentrate on the focus of the shot. The background also worked well with the warm tones of the sun and gave a nice soft contrast to the subject that allowed separation of subject and background.
My camera then was the Samsung GX10 and I was and still am using the sigma 70mm macro lens. I mostly photographed either handheld or with a monopod the Gitzo GM2561T which is their lightest weight monopod. perhaps when I can afford it I will upgrade the monopod as it is a very useful bit of equipment and the sturdier the better. I do not use flash at all, so in challenging lighting conditions, technique is everything. I was also using a battery grip which allows access to the firing button in scenic/portrait mode. Another bit of equipment I like is an eyecup, the type you can press your face into, this has 2 benefits, 1) it prevents extraneous light from entering the viewer and 2) it helps to absorb vibration perhaps 0.5 of a stop worth when pressed to your face. The shutter speed that was used for this shot 1/30 sec is less than ideal and was because of the system i.e. ISO 400 was about the max you can use with this set up and still have noise levels that are manageable. Hence it was down to technique to secure this along with taking a number of images at each composition to maximise my chances of securing and acceptable shot, I used f8.0 to give me the best chance of getting the focus right as I was quite close and the background was nice and simple, any smaller aperture would have compromised the shutter speed to far the wrong way.
I am interested in nature and discovered macro photography through this interest, and as a result they both reinforce each other. So I am always looking for images to capture that show the normally unseen detail and beauty of nature. With macro this presents many challenges with regards to focus, sharpness, lack of light and composition not to mention actually getting close enough to your subject without spooking it and it is these challenges that also drives me and something that I enjoy.
I post processed in Lightroom, adjusting shadows, highlights and black and white point to suit, I then reduced saturation a touch and boosted vibrance. Increased contrast and clarity a touch and used the colour picker to adjust luminosity, for the grass I reduced luminosity to darken it a little so as to support the subject and not compete with it. Of course the adjustments are specific to the image in hand and do not suit all images similarly so it is necessary to look at your work after a break and readjust or tweak to suit if required. Taking a break and coming back to an image, days, weeks or even months later is really helpful in removing or distancing your emotional attachment to and image so that you can make a more balanced and rational approach to your post processing. I then exported to Photoshop and I nearly always try the automated colour, contrast and tone adjustments to see if they have any effect. I finish by sharpening and in this case used 3 passes. 1) High pass, convert to mono then set to ca 1.5 - 3.00 pixels and I generally use overlay to bring the image back. Then use if necessary a mask to remove sharpening where it is not needed 2) I then used unsharp mask , setting the pixels quite high and reducing the effect slider to bring out sections like the flies legs and eyes, again use a mask to remove sharpening from areas it is not needed 3) finally I set sharpen for screen to standard/low when exporting as a jpeg for viewing on screen/web etc.
In my camera bag
Initially with my GX10 I had the sigma 18-50mm EX DG macro f2.8, sigma 12-24 and sigma 70mm EX DG f2.8 Macro lens. I also have a series of old tamron adaptall lenses that I use(d) occasionally. Now I have the K3 and use the Pentax 16-50 and 50-135mm smc DA f2.8 and still use the sigma 70mm lens. I often use the Gitzo monopod and occasionally the manfrotto 055xb pro tripod and 468MGRC2 head. Although I have recently bought (2nd hand) the Giottos MTL 8360B carbon fibre tripod and Induro BHL2 head and quite like this combination.
First find out if you like macro/close up photography before rushing out and purchasing a dedicated macro lens. Many wide angle lenses will let you capture acceptable close up images that you can crop, or you could borrow a friends set up if they will allow it, alternatively try reversing rings with a 50 mm prime lens (these can easily be found relatively cheaply on eBay. If you find you enjoy this again you could start of with something like the tamron 52B 90 1-2 macro lens and suitable lens adapter for your system, this is still a class lens even today. Macro photography is something you must first try to see if you like it and if you do patience is absolutely key, both for developing your technique, skills and feel for the subject just as it is a key requirement just to find at get close to suitable subjects, before you can even think about achieving an acceptably sharp shot. Then you can start thinking about all the other consideration like composition, background, colour, lighting etc. etc. Macro is a difficult subject to master and I am very much still learning myself, but it is an entirely engrossing and enjoyable subject for those that enjoy it and never knock anything until you have tried it. When focussing so closely any errors are magnified also and you have a vey narrow window of focus or depth of field which narrows more so as you approach the true 1:1 ratio or higher. Therefore these two elements can compromise each other i.e. you need to have a high shutter speed to combat yours and the subjects movement and any vibrations occurring due to camera slap etc., but to have an acceptable depth of field it is necessary to reduce the aperture e.g. f8 to 14 and lower which impacts your shutter speed, hence it becomes necessary to increase ISO at narrow apertures which may increase noise depending on your camera system. It is often stated that the shutter speed should be ideally equal to or 1.5x the focal length. I would opt for 3x the focal length and experiment to see if you can decrease this or need to increase this ratio to suit your self, i.e. everyone is different. When handheld or using a monopod as I am referring to above try to brace your self as stably as possible with good support for your lens and camera. A good technique is to use the stance/brace that riflemen use. Also where possible use a support like a tree stump, fence or even carry a been bag. I often end up on the ground lying down and support my lens and camera with my elbows well spaced. Of course the best option is to use a tripod (not a cheap one) but this can often be difficult to get close to a subject with i.e. the tripod exaggerates your own movement and often knocks other vegetation which in turn spooks your subject. in this case the start and end of the day are the best times to look for your subject when it is not so active. Know you subject and develop field skills to enable you to get closer to your subject e.g. move slowly with no sharp movements and don't where bright clothing, neutral colours are best. knowing your subject will allow you to scout the best locations and the right time of year to maximise your chances. Finally join a photographic club/group and consider a local wildlife group too, local knowledge is very important for wildlife opportunities. Be patient, you will get more misses than hits, accept this.

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