“If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.”
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

Submitted to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness

Hand Held Macro, Take 1

Two weeks ago I rented a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens to test out whether or not macro was a format I could dive deeper into, technology notwithstanding. After an initial meet and greet with the lens in the (relatively) controlled environs of my kitchen, confidence bolstered by the benefit of my tripod, a remote shutter switch, and nowhere else to be, I decided to give the stabilized lens a more real-world test. With only a couple hours to spare on Saturday (at high afternoon, no less), I took my camera back to UNM for a quick tour of the duck pond.

Generally speaking, this is a wide angle or standard lens location, full of students, fountains, ducks. geese, and families. While I wasn’t the only photographer on campus that day, I was certainly the only one crawling around the ground with a 12″ diffuser flared out behind my head like the feathers of a peacock.  (Definitely need to work on a less ostentatious approach to light control…) I hadn’t used my diffuser much to date, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with it- that little thing may just salvage many a mid-day photography opportunity– a great gift indeed in this land of very hard sunlight.

It took a while to get the hang of swaying my body front to back to fine tune my focal plane (though far easier than trying to manually fine-tune the lens focus while accounting for my natural motion) and eventually I got the habit of breathing out before taking a shot.  About 50% of my shots were technically acceptable on closer inspection, but frankly, while it was a fun outing,  I still wasn’t overall thrilled about my compositions or the lens. (That changed, thankfully- though the bolus of photos I ultimately took with the lens has completely jammed up my post-production workflow and I am still trying to get them ready for posting!)

I leave you with a small gallery of the images from that first hand-held macro trip.

Floral Macro, Day 1

I rented a macro lens for the week to see what more a dedicated macro lens would make available to me.  We got off to a slow start the first night, but each day I’ve found myself more and more enamored with the lens and the format. (As of this writing, I have about 300 prints to work on, after initial review, and still 4 more days with the lens!)

Here is a small gallery of my first night’s photos, while I work on post-processing the rest!

Some Damn Tasty Lemonade

It was bound to happen at some point.

I noticed as I loaded new photos into Lightroom tonight that yesterday was a year to the day of my DSLR’s first click. I also noticed that it has taken me a week to even upload some of the photos– wholly on account of my hating them.

I had a bad macro run last week – working indoors with an unfamiliar setup late in the evening after work – surprise surprise- didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. And unlike my more recent trips to the botanical gardens, this experience didn’t make me want to get back out there and get those snaps. It made me feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of skill I have the never-ending opportunity to develop.

So I spent the week under a proverbial rock, reading articles and books on technique, feeling crappier and more anxious about trying again. To make matters worse (better?), taunting me from my kitchen counter were the other flowers I had bought to take pictures of, cascading like waves through the process of fantastic blooming.  Tonight – having had enough of their teasing- I got out the camera and found some pictures I am very excited about. Relief- looks like I didn’t lose the last year’s lessons in one go after all, lol.

Interestingly, when I uploaded the pictures that had left me so disenchanted, they weren’t as bad as I remembered them.  No, they weren’t as clear or lit for texture as I wanted and the depth of field was all but unworkable, but I found Freeman Patterson’s words from “Photography and the Art of Seeing” nagging me: “… don’t junk your digital images immediately!”

Taking a cue from some of my favorite shots at the botanical garden, I decided to go an abstract route and work with- rather than against- the images’ flaws.  I actually like this set enough (now) to try printing a set of note cards for thank you’s and the like!

I am curious what you think of this batch of “lemonade”- gratefully, the the shots I took tonight are a little less of a stretch and I am excited to get them into processing and posted!