Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hitting Limits

European Wool Carder Bee IV
It's been a while since I've blogged about macro photography, and truth be told it's been a while since I've held a camera in my hand. It's not the first time I've taken a break, but this one seems to be the longest I've gone without getting "macro withdraws". I've hit a couple of road blocks that have kept the camera in the bag. The first, and I think foremost, is "what's next?". I've been pushing the limits of what I can do with the camera and the subjects I shoot, and I have images that are truly unique compared to what I see in the amateur macro community.

Feeding Chafer Beetle

Feeding Honeybee VIII

Finger Fed Bumblebee

But after a while my gallery seems to just be repetitive, and I don't like taking the same shot over and over any more than you enjoy seeing them. So part of the problem is just an issue of inspiration. What can I do next that's going to keep my gallery fresh? I haven't found the answer to that one yet.

I thought about getting into focus stacking, but then I'd lose the ability to take "action shots" like the images above. Plus I just don't see the challenge in photographing something that doesn't move. Granted I'd get more detail, but I really don't think that detail is a problem even with my "diffraction limited" macro photography:

European Wool Carder Bee VII

Over the years I've come to realize that the quality of the light I'm using has a really big impact on the level of detail in my images. A lot of texture data can get lost due to light that creates too much micro contrast. In addition the better the light quality the more I can push my images in post, and for me everything from what I do with the camera to what I do in post is connected. It's unfortunate that the main stream media has projected the impression that post processing is just for correcting mistakes, instead of post just being a normal part of the the photographic process. You have to develop your "film" and it doesn't matter if the negative is a piece of celluloid or a RAW file.

Light is the one area where I've really hit a hard wall. Due to my style of shooting I have to use Canon's MT-24EX because it's the only flash that gives me the balance I need for hand holding the camera while chasing semi-active to hyperactive subjects. I also benefit from the close working distances at life size and higher magnification since the diffusion of the light gets better the closer the diffuser is to the subject, and getting the flash close also helps to keep the duration of the light as short as possible so that I can freeze a lot of motion. But the short distance between flash and subject limits what I can do to diffuse the flash, and I've pretty much taken the MT-24EX as far as it can go.

Sadly the MT-24EX is the only Canon flash that has not been updated, and I'm hoping that they do in fact come out with a better version of it.

My macro journey isn't over and if I can come up with something unique I'll post some abstract work this winter. Just wanted to let you know that I'm still here, but just finding inspiration a little difficult at the moment.