Saturday, August 8, 2009

Macro Special Effects by Nature

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Most of the time, no camera movement is necessary for this effect in the Tehachapi Mountains. You would quickly go broke renting wind machines to photographers in Bear Valley Springs. We can always count on a slight breeze, at least, and the gusts occasionally threaten small structures and rearrange garden furniture.

I had become fond of macro photography before we moved here and, occasionally I get a tad frustrated by the still relatively new-to-me conditions. Fortunately, I also like to experiment with photos like the one above. Yesterday, I had gotten in a little shooting before the slight breeze gathered strength, then decided to stick around for something different. After all, the Red Harvester Ants hadn’t found me, and I was giving their bed a wide berth. Since my enemy and I were coexisting peacefully, I let the wind show me a few tricks.

Of course, the downside of this session is that I now want a neutral density filter for my 100mm macro lens. The desire for more gear is a lot like the wind in the Tehachapis: a constant.


  1. Anita, I feel those same "winds" each time I see wonderful effects another photographer has achieved (such as your photo of the flowers). I am usually anxious to try those same things myself--perhaps I just require a lens, a filter, lighting or other--yes, consistent "winds" indeed. :-)

  2. Earl - Thanks for the chuckle.

    I have no doubt that you have produced wonderful results by moving the camera, rather than having nature toss the flowers about. I don't know about you, but I think I prefer the camera-moving method. After all, when you tire of it, you simply return to still photography. But, if you got lemons, there's no no point getting your heart set on apple cider. I always loved lemonade.

  3. This is getting to be really interesting! Movement captured. Either by movement of the subject matter or by moving the camera. I've been experimenting with the same. I asked myself a question [at my blog] - is photography an art in itself or a combo of art and technology? Then I go to Earl's blog today, and he writes eloquently about something similar.

    As the experssion goes in India "I am just loving it"!

  4. Anil - I have never imagined that I would be content doing just one type of photograpy. The freedom to experiment is a big part of what makes it so satisfying.

    Earl, got a great number of us thinking with his question. But, he has a way of doing that.

    Your recent post arrived at an ideal time, since I was going along with the wind. Now, I am even more in the mood to experiment with movement. I keep seeing your image of those turning book pages.

  5. Good stuff, Anita. I'm glad to see that you tried it. I love 'wind painting' myself. I just put on the Vari-ND neutral density filter and let the wind do what it will. This is especially wonderful when having a field of tall grass and something still in the distance.

    As for the lemonade / apple cider, I love apple cider, or as my mother used to call it: worm juice! LOL!

  6. Paul - I never had anything in my previous experiments that quite hit the mark. This time I actualy got a couple that pleased me.

    Drat! Another vote for that ND filter. I have one for my 24-105mm, but I need to think about other lenses. Do you use step-up rings? You know my education is so spotty, I have never even seen them used. Is that what I should be considering? I wanted so much to have a more shallow depth of field for those daisies, but couldn't manage it without an ND filter.

    Worm juice. Yikes! That might have turned my appetite down a notch or two.

  7. Anita: I most certainly do use step-up rings. I purchased the filter for the largest diameter that I needed, 77 mm, then bought appropriate rings to fit. The step-up rings are about $10 each. I have 3. So now that expensive Vari-ND filter fits on every lens that I own! :-)

  8. Paul - Hot diggity. Good news. You know the old saying about the blind squirrel finding a nut once in while, right? Well, I own one ND filter (not a luxury version like yours, but oh, well) along with one circular polarizer, and guess what size I bought—yep, 77mm. I suppose I will be contacting B&H later today. I just never had the confidence to experiment with the step-up rings. Instead, I wondered if they delivered what the advertising claimed. Thank you for the information.

  9. Anita: Sorry I am late to the thread, but thought I would add something about using step-up rings. First, I am most likely very annal about using a lens hood and found using rings limited the use of the factory hoods. What I did was purchased one of the cheap collapsable rubber hoods in 77 mm and screw it on the filter. It turned out to be a nice workable solution and it only vignettes when using a very wide lens (17-40) on the 5D. They can be purchased at most any reasonably stocked camera shop, which sadly, are becoming harder to find. Samy's in LA will be sure to have them.


  10. Steve - Thank you for chiming in. I had gotten side-tracked by some deadlines that sneaked up on me and haven't gotten the step-up rings. Now, I know to add the rubber hoods to my shopping list. I use my hoods all the time. The sun here in the moutains of southern California can be quite brutal and I find the hood essential most of the time. I appreciate the tip.


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