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A male Green Frog in wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec

A male Green Frog in wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec (Handheld – 1.5 DX CROP)

In June 2015 Venus Optics announced the release of their Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens. I discovered this lens a few months ago and became quite intrigued by it’s specifications, most notably the ability to focus down to 4.7mm from the front element of the lens. There is currently no other lens on the market that is capable of doing what this lens can do. It is a master at wide-angle macro imagery. I had a hunch that this lens would be deadly for creating my frog-scape style imagery even though the lens requires 100% manual operation, including focusing and setting of the diaphragm as there is no coupling to the camera meter. I had hoped to include within this review the results of how the lens performs for landscape photography but unfortunately I suffered a very painful flare-up of my chronic lower back problems. As a result my mobility has been severely limited for the last week or so. I will do an update to this review at a later date to give my impressions of the lens’ performance for landscape use.

A handheld Nikon D800 was used for each of the images in this review and were photographed using the full frame sensor or the 1.5 DX crop. Notations within the image captions will indicate FULL FRAME or 1.5 DX CROP.

Each of the featured images in today’s blog post were created in my favorite wetland on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada.

Lens Barrel of the Laowa 15mm f4 Macro Lens The inner ring controls focusing The outer ring controls the diaphram

Lens Barrel of the Laowa 15mm f4 Macro Lens
The inner ring controls focusing
The outer ring controls the diaphragm

The Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens is a well built lens of metal construction. The front lens cap, rear lens cap, and lens hood are of plastic construction. Do note I did not use the lens hood for any of the images within this post as the lens hood would have either shadowed the subject or created unpleasant reflections in the foreground water due to focusing so closely on the subjects. The lens will accept 77mm threaded filters and I was quite pleased to see that my Singh-Ray 77mm Warm-Tone Thin Mount Polarizer did not vignette when used. The lens also incorporates a shift mechanism that allows for 6mm of upward or downward shift, but I did not test this feature as I did not photograph any landscapes as of yet. The focusing and diaphragm rings both have smooth and easy operation. One downfall of the lens is that it does have strong barrel distortion, but since I am primarily using the lens for my frog-scape imagery it is of little concern to me – each of the images featured in today’s post have had no distortion correction applied to them. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled and when present is easily corrected. Center sharpness is excellent but corners do get a little soft, which improves when the lens is stopped down and is seldom worrisome at macro distances such as those in the featured imagery.

In the next series of photos I will illustrate how I go about creating my frog-scape imagery while handholding this set-up.

Arms extended outwards to pull the camera strap tight around my neck for added stability. Live View  and Virtual Horizon activated Thumb is positioned on Zoom Button Index and Middle Finger are positioned on the Focusing Ring

Arms extended outwards to pull the camera strap tight around my neck for added stability.
Live View and Virtual Horizon activated
Thumb of left hand is positioned on Zoom Button
Index and Middle Finger of left hand are positioned on the Focusing Ring

 

While in Live View my left thumb will zoom into the scene. I would then place the frog's eyeball within the area of the red square and using my index and middle-finger on my left hand, rotate the focusing ring until sharp focus is achieved.

While in Live View my left thumb will zoom into the scene. I would then place the frog’s eyeball within the area of the red square and using my index and middle-finger on my left hand, rotate the focusing ring until sharp focus is achieved.

 

Left index finger and middle-finger positioned on the focusing ring to adjust focus

Left index finger and middle-finger positioned on the focusing ring to adjust focus

The Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens is a versatile lens that is capable of producing dramatic wildlife imagery when focused closely on the subject matter. There are many pros to this lens such as:

  • low chromatic aberration
  • excellent center sharpness
  • 1:1 Macro capability
  • Focuses down to 4.7mm from the front element of the lens
  • smooth focusing
  • smooth aperture control
  • shift mechanism
  • inexpensive at approximately $499 US

The only downfalls I  noticed were the barrel distortion and soft corners. When focusing in at macro distances and stopping down to f16 I found the corners to be more than acceptable for my frog-scape style images. The barrel distortion while more noticeable in some images than others again is of little concern to me. In nature we do not encounter perfectly straight lines that often, therefore, I find the distortion to be not too big a deal and can sometimes be used to one’s advantage for creative effect. I will likely not be using this lens for architectural work or for ocean sunrises where the barrel distortion would become very problematic.

Here are a few additional images that I created using the Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens.

Bullfrog in Wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog in Wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60 sec Handheld 1.5 DX CROP

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60 sec
Handheld
1.5 DX CROP

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/20 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/20 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 2500, f16 @ 1/80 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 2500, f16 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15 mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15 mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 1/80 sec Handheld 1.5 DX CROP

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 1/80 sec
Handheld
1.5 DX CROP

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Marco Lens ISO 5000, f16 @ 1/25 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Marco Lens
ISO 5000, f16 @ 1/25 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 500, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 500, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm macro Lens ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/25 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm macro Lens
ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/25 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

And one B-Roll image from the wetland. A very co-operative Northern Watersnake that was found sunning itself on a log within the wetland. The front element of the lens is roughly one inch away from the snake’s head in the photo below. This extreme close focusing capability of the Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens makes it my new go to, never leave home without it lens. It is quite simply to versatile and deadly for creating up-close and personal photos of wildlife subjects within their habitat. Spending my hard-earned money on this amazing lens was a good investment!

Please do remember to click on each of the images to view the sharper, larger versions.

Northern Watersnake Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Northern Watersnake
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

 

 

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Red-eyed Tree Frog - captive

Red-eyed Tree Frog – captive

 

The second installment of my Frogs of the World Workshop was held on Saturday April 30th and was quite successful. The participants had a great time capturing some amazing imagery of the frogs that were featured this time around. In a future post I will share some of the photos created my the participants of this workshop. The species that were featured for this workshop included:

  • Red-eyed Tree Frog (native to Central America)
  • Tomato Frog (native to Madagascar)
  • Green Tree Frog (native to the southern USA)
  • Vietnamese Moss Frog (native to Vietnam)
  • Fire Belly Toad (native to Asia)

A small assortment of tropical plants, and a custom designed mini-pond provided the settings for natural-looking photos in the controlled environment. Here are a few of the images I created during the workshop. Each image was captured using the Nikon D800 with a Nikon 105mm Micro lens and the discontinued Nikon SB400 Speedlight attached to a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket. The exposure setting was ISO 100 with an aperture of f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Do remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper version. Which is your favorite?

Tomato Frog - captive

Tomato Frog – captive

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog - captive

Vietnamese Moss Frog – captive

 

Green Tree Frog - captive

Green Tree Frog – captive

 

Fire Belly Toad - captive

Fire Belly Toad – captive

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog - captive

Red-eyed Tree Frog – captive

 

Tomato Frog - captive

Tomato Frog – captive

 

Green Tree Frog - captive

Green Tree Frog – captive

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog - capitve

Vietnamese Moss Frog – capitve

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Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps), Captive ©Don Johnston

Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) – Captive
©Don Johnston

In this post I want to feature some of the images created by two of the clients that attended my first Frogs of the World Workshop on March 5th. It was a pleasure to meet Don Johnston and Keith Carroll, and both created some very lovely images. Keith and Don had great success using off-camera flash and their 100mm Macro lenses during the frog portion of the workshop and Don used his Nikon 200mm Micro lens and off-camera flash to photograph some very impressive reptile images in the Reptilia Zoo. Don Johnston came up with an interesting idea and subsequent effect during the workshop by using a small plant mister to create a rainfall effect, and in his Red-eyed Tree Frog image the frog seems to be quite enjoying the little shower🙂

For folks that may be interested, I am hosting my second Frogs of the World Workshop on April 30th. More information about that workshop can be found here. There are still some spaces available, but they are going quickly. Please contact me at info@andrewmclachlan.ca if you are ready to sign up for the workshop.

Please remember to click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper version and please let Don and Keith know which of their images are your favorites🙂

 

Red-eyed Tree Frogs ©Keith Carroll

Red-eyed Tree Frogs – Captive
©Keith Carroll

 

American alligator (Alligator mississipiensis), Captive ©Don Johnston

American alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) – Captive
©Don Johnston

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog ©Keith Carroll

Red-eyed Tree Frog – Captive
©Keith Carroll

 

Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis, Captive ©Don Johnston

Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) – Captive
©Don Johnston

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas), Captive ©Don Johnston

Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) – Captive
©Don Johnston

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Frogs of the World

On Saturday, April 30, 2016 I will be hosting my second Frogs of the World Workshop at Reptilia commencing at 8:00 a.m. sharp. The cost of the workshop will be $85, which includes admission to the Reptilia Zoo. We will photograph 5 species of frogs for the first 2 hours, before entering the zoo to photograph many species of snakes (both venomous and constrictors), alligators, and lizards. Generally  two to three hours provides ample time to photograph the reptiles located in the zoo portion, but we do have the remainder of the day available to spend in the zoo. This workshop will be limited to a maximum of 10 people, so do not delay if you are sitting on the fence. Payment for this workshop can be made via email transfer or by cheque. Please contact me at info@andrewmclachlan.ca if you are interested in this workshop and for further info on making your payment.

To photograph the frogs it is best to use a 100mm macro lens and off camera flash, preferably a flash bracket that will allow you to position the flash out over the lens will yield the best results. I have two spare off-camera macro flash brackets that folks can borrow for the day should they be in need of such a bracket. The room in which we photograph the frogs does have a tendency to get rather warm so you may wish to wear light clothing. To photograph the reptiles in the zoo afterwards generally a lens in the 200-300mm range will work well. Tripods have a tendency to become an excercise in frustration when photographing reptiles and amphibians, which is why I recommend using off camera flash and handholding so that you will have the mobility to capture these quick-moving subjects.

For this session we will photograph the following species of frogs:

  • Tomato Frog
  • Budgett’s Frog
  • Vietnamese Moss Frog
  • Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Tree Frog

I am looking forward to meeting some new folks at this workshop. I will be featuring some images by past participants in a day or so. I had hoped to do so by now but unfortunately was hit with a brutal ice storm last Thursday that left me without hydro for 48 hours and devastating damage to almost every tree on my half acre rural lot, but fortunately only minor damage to my home’s eaves trough even though several large branches came down on my roof….funny thing is I was at a Chinese food restaurant on Thursday and my fortune cookie said “Good news is on the way”🙂

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Red-eyed Tree Frog - captive Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 100 f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Red-eyed Tree Frog on Bromeliad Blossom
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Saturday March 5th was the day of my first ever captive frog photography workshop. I will be announcing a second workshop in the coming weeks. Do contact me if interested to have your name added to the short list. We had three participants for this inaugural workshop and after some initial instruction on the use of a macro flash bracket and flash positioning they were off and running, creating fabulous images. I will share some of their images here on the blog once they are able to process and send me some low-res image files. Without a doubt, the ever-popular Red-eyed Tree Frogs stole the show. Tree frogs have a way of doing that with their fabulous expressions and long-gangly legs making for great poses. Here are a few images that I created in between assisting the workshop participants. I also created a mini-pond for some aquatic set-ups with the Tomato Frog and Budgett’s Frog and a large piece of lichen covered tree bark was used to compliment the Vietnamese Moss Frog’s superior camouflaged coloration. A BIG thanks also to the amazing staff at Reptilia Zoo for all their superb assistance during the entire workshop. Since the workshop also included the cost of admission to the zoo, we were able to spend several hours photographing some of the highly venomous and lethal snakes in their enclosures, such as the Black Mamba and King Cobra. Stay tuned for those images in a future blog post.

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog on Bromeliad Blossom Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Red-eyed Tree Frog on Bromeliad Blossom
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

ed-eyed Tree Frog on Bromeliad Blossom Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Red-eyed Tree Frog on Bromeliad Blossom
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Budgett's Frog emerging from the water Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Budgett’s Frog Emerging From the Water
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Tomato Frog on rock in mini-pond Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Tomato Frog on Rock in Mini-pond
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog on Lichen Covered Tree Bark Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Vietnamese Moss Frog on Lichen Covered Tree Bark
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog on Lichen Covered Tree Bark Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens ISO 1  , f22 @ 1/60 sec Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Vietnamese Moss Frog on Lichen Covered Tree Bark
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 1 , f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

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Pre-dawn Light at The Torrance Barrens  Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm ISO 100 f16 @ 1.6 seconds

Pre-dawn Light at The Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm
ISO 100
f16 @ 1.6 seconds

On Friday February 26th I finally had some free time to get out and spend a day in the field creating some fresh winter landscapes. The first stop on my list was to visit Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve near Gravenhurst, Ontario. This is one of my favorite locations in summer and fall, but I had never explored it in the dead of winter. It was a very chilly morning with a cloudless sky, which meant there would not be mush of a decent sunrise so I chose to frame these scraggly spruce trees against the western sky and wait for the rising sun to cast a pinkish glow on the western horizon.

The next stop on my list was to make a first-ever winter trip over to Lower Rosseau Falls. Fortunately the road in was plowed and there was even a clearing plowed to allow a car or two to park near the river. Hiking through the woods down to the base of the falls was a little treacherous as there was significant ice build-up beneath a foot of fresh snow – I fell flat on my butt several times.

Due to the bright conditions on this day, to slow down the exposure times to blur the rushing waters I dialed in an ISO of 50 on my Nikon D800 and also used a Nikon Polarizing Filter to further extend the exposure times. I was in such a rush to get out the door and on my way on this day that I also forgot to take along my cable release. To overcome this I simply framed my compositions as I normally would, then activated the Live View feature, as this will lock up the mirror to allow live viewing on the LCD screen, and then finally I selected the 2 second self-timer to trip the shutter.

 

Lower Rosseau Falls in Winter Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 29mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1/10 sec.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 29mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1/10 sec.

 

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1/5 sec.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1/5 sec.

After a successful shoot at Lower Rosseau Falls I made the short drive over to Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River. There was not a lot of interesting ice development at Hatchery Falls mostly due to high water levels in the river not allow any interesting formations to develop. Nonetheless, the hike in to Hatchery Falls was beautiful and I had the entire location all to myself to enjoy🙂

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1 second

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1 second

 

Frogs of the World Workshop Space Available

For folks that may have missed the announcement for my Frogs of the World Workshop there are still some spaces available should you be interested. The date of the workshop is Saturday, March 5th at 8:00 a.m. with a cost of $85. Please contact me directly at info@andrewmclachlan.ca if you are interested in attending this workshop. For more information about the workshop please click here to see the official announcement.

Frogs of the World Workshop

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Sigma 180 Macro_4363

In 2012 Sigma released the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens. In July of this year I had the opportunity to spend about a week with the lens, to give a thorough workout, as it was on loan to me from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses. The Sigma 180mm Macro lens is physically a large lens yet does handle very nicely. It is equipped with Sigma’s Optical Stabilization feature, which will compensate for about 4 stops. At the time of this lens’ release it was the only 180mm Macro lens to offer such superb stabilization. It is also a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8 therefore the viewfinder is bright making manual focus easy (should you prefer to manually focus your macro lenses – I generally do). Since my main objective was to use this lens handheld from the canoe for frog photography and wetland details too, I was very eager to put the Optical Stabilizer to the test. Some other features that are noteworthy to mention for this high-performance lens are:

  • Three low dispersion glass elements for excellent correction of both axial chromatic aberration and lateral chromatic aberration.
  • Hyper Sonic Motor delivers auto-focusing that is quiet, fast, and accurate.
  • Multi-layer coatings to minimize flare and ghosting.
  • Accepts 86mm size filters.
  • Tripod collar to easily switch from horizontal to vertical orientations.
  • Minimum focusing distance of 18.5 inches.
  • Magnification ratio of 1:1 at the minimum focusing distance.

Let’s head out into the Horseshoe Lake wetland in the canoe and see what we can find. Do note additional info that is provided in the image captions.

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec.

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec.

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec.

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec.

One of the first things that did take some getting used to on my part was working with the greater minimum focusing distance. Since I am most accustomed to using my Nikon 105mm Micro Lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 12 inches I often found that I was getting in too close with the Sigma 180mm Macro lens and would have to adjust my positioning to accommodate for the greater minimum focusing distance. This is by no means a hindrance though, in fact the greater minimum focusing distance has many benefits to it. If you enjoy photographing butterflies, small lizards, snakes or other often difficult to approach subjects, the Sigma lens will permit photographing from a greater distance which in-turn will lessen the chance of entering the animals comfort zone causing them to take flight.

Hand-holding the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens in the Horseshoe Lake wetland was a very enjoyable experience and allowed me to create numerous images that would have been difficult to do otherwise, as it would have been impossible to set-up a tripod in the soft mucky bottom. Do note that macro lenses as a rule are some of the best optics available and I will often use them for landscape imagery as well, including some of the intimate wetland scenes below.

Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f16 @ 1/80 sec.  Hand-Held

Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/80 sec.
Hand-Held

 

Spatulate Leaved Sundew Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/50 sec. Hand-Held

Spatulate Leaved Sundews at the Edge of the Wetland
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/50 sec.
Hand-Held

 

Wetland Details Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250 sec Hand-Held

Wetland Details
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250 sec
Hand-Held

 

Arrowheads at Edge of Wetland Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/80 sec. Hand-Held

Arrowheads at Edge of Wetland
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/80 sec.
Hand-Held

After photographing several different scenarios in the wetland environment I decided to head into the woods with my tripod and photograph some woodland details. Many years ago I used spend much of my time in woodlands photographing woodland plants, tree bark details and any bugs that I could find. It was a ton of fun to take the Sigma 180mm Macro lens into the woods to re-visit my photographic roots.

Staghorn Sumac Leaves Close-up Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 0.6 sec Tripod Mounted with OS off

Staghorn Sumac Leaves Close-up
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 0.6 sec
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

 

Silver Birch Tree Bark Detail Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f29 @ 6 seconds Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

Silver Birch Tree Bark Detail
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f29 @ 6 seconds
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

 

Daddy Long-Legs on White Birch Tree Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f32 @ 8 seconds Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

Daddy Long-Legs on White Birch Tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f32 @ 8 seconds
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

And last but not least, I could not resist the temptation to create a pleasing blur of a lovely cluster of ferns growing alongside of the cottage road. To create the blurred effect I simply stood at the edge of the road, looking down upon the ferns and using an in-camera sideways motion with a shutter speed of 1/15 created an image that revealed the subject matter, yet had a pleasing amount of blur to it as well. This is a technique that I learned from colleague, mentor and friend Denise Ippolito.

Pleasing Fern Blur Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/15 sec Hand-Held with a Sideways Movement

Pleasing Fern Blur
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/15 sec
Hand-Held In-camera Blur with a Sideways Movement

Conclusion: The Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens was an absolute joy to use. The 18.5 inch minimum working distance took some getting used to on my part, but is very beneficial to photographing subjects that are prone to spook very easily. The Optical Stabilization feature’s performance is superb offering a stable solution to creating hand-held imagery in often difficult situations. While I mainly used the lens hand-held, the tripod collar did make switching from horizontal to vertical orientations effortless when a tripod was in use. Alternately, the tripod collar would offer an excellent and very simple solution to mounting an off-camera flash for night-time macro photography, much like I do for my night-time frog imagery whereby I use flash 100% of the time. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for a macro lens, or looking to upgrade to a longer focal length macro lens. It is a large, sturdy, and well built lens that delivers superb image results. I only wish that I had more time to fully explore the capabilities this lens has to offer.

Please do click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

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