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Kevin Childress
I may not be a 'professional' photographer, but I'm VERY professional about my photography! :)
I may not be a 'professional' photographer, but I'm VERY professional about my photography! :)
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Midas Fly and Snail

As best as I can remember this is the first Midas Fly I've seen and its a big 'ole sucker. Shot at 1:1.3 and focus stacked from 261 frames. Background is a few snippings from a Firepower Nandina. Subject is mostly lit with a Savage dual arm macro light and the background is mostly lit with a CFL desk lamp. Light on subject is diffused with a canopy of tracing paper. Image is full-size and no crop.

#macro #macrophotography #focusstacking #closeup 
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Maybe you have seen this already but I just saw the news this morning. I can't even begin to tell you how deeply the NIK collection has become integrated into my workflow. It is rare that I stamp an entire image with any particular filter or effect but I use bits and pieces of a many NIK filters when blending multi-layer Photoshop projects. I have avoided using this 'lil hashtag for a couple years now, but looking at the possibility of having to recreate my workflow is most definitely a #googlefail !


Soft Proofing Black and White Images?

Looking for others' thoughts and experiences with soft proofing black and white images. I am well versed in soft proofing color images but I am struggling with preparing a number of black and white files for print. For the few B&W images I have proofed so far I have used the same ICC profile that I would use for color images (for the same lab's printers of course) assuming the rendering intent and black point compensation would still be relevant for the blacks and whites. And while color gamut isn't a concern with the B&W images I am just not thrilled with what I'm seeing when proofing these images.

I have reached out to the print lab asking if they have profiles geared specifically for B&W tuning or any guidance they may have otherwise. But I am hoping to hear other experiences with printing black and white particularly if you have taken steps to "prepare" the images for printing in any areas.

Thanks in advance!

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Steady Your Caber, Mate

Caber toss competition at the 2017 Loch Norman Highland Games. More fun than you shake a 175-pound stick at!


#highlandgames #blackandwhite #blackandwhitephotography
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An Unconventional Share

Sometimes when focus stacking large numbers of files I get fuzzy edges on overlapping bits of the subject that become difficult to correct later in post processing. In this case I was having trouble with edges where the antennae overlap the eyes. I've had some success with re-stacking a small number of files to get crisp edges around trouble areas and then blending the new stack with the first. You may have seen in recent posts I have discussed (complained) about the vignetting I suffer when using my 50mm lens reversed upon my 105mm micro lens, and clearly that was a problem here. One of the great things about this composition was that the antennae completely covered the frame, but I finally got so disgusted with the vignetting that I scrapped the entire project and started from scratch (which I later shared a different view of this same beetle). Last night I was cleaning out old files when I came across this image and it struck me as the beetle peering through a hole in which I though was kind of neat. I typically wouldn't share unintended / incomplete images but there is an abstract element here that I thought others might enjoy.


#macro #macrophotography
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Carpenter Bee and Cheddar Pinks

There are many things I love about my German Shepard but one of her best traits is that she keeps me stocked with flying insects for macro projects! She loves to lounge around in the back yard just watching things fly around but they best beware; anything that comes within striking distance stands a good chance of getting struck down. She was watching this carpenter bee hover around my Cheddar Pink dianthus but then the 'lil guy made the fatal mistake of checking her out too. SNAP. Done. That's daddy's gooood girl! I though it fitting to compose the bee upon the last flower it sniffed.

Nikon D810 ~ Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 at f/16 focused to 1:1 ~ ISO100 ~ Focus stacked from 185 frames exposed to 1/250-second ~ Lit with 3 speedlights at 1/64th power and light diffused with a canopy of tracing paper ~ background is a colorful image ripped from a magazine


#macro #macrophotography #nature #naturephotography
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This concludes my extension tube testing ...

Yesterday I shared a few images from my first tests using an extension tube where I was primarily focusing on understanding the effect on reproduction ratio and the changes in exposure. This morning I began testing with my speedlights and found I could definitely overcome the exposure problems. The project I photographed today wasn't so much about high magnification but rather filling the entire frame.

The extension tube is a variable tube (55 - 71mm) from Savage and seems like a very well built piece of equipment. I used the tube at 55mm and noticed right away the extension tube dramatically increased the depth of field, and I do mean dramatically.The DoF was increased so much that I captured a focus stack with only 30 frames where I would typically need 120+ frames to cover the same linear distance. I was really beginning to think my life had just gotten a lot easier! But wait ...

When I imported the images into Lightroom I was shocked at what I saw ... 30 absolutely fuzzy images. I can't understand it but there isn't one sharp pixel in any of the 30 images. Thinking something might be wrong with the camera I removed the extension tube and re-shot the entire project using my 105mm f/2.8 at 1:1 and the results were perfectly normal.

Attached are two comparisons, all shot at f/16. The first comparison shows an image (on left) shot with the extension tube and an image (on right) shot with the macro lens alone. I looked through all 30 images shot with the extension tube and this is the sharpest image I can find of that area of my subject. What the hell?? I was so perplexed I set up again for one more test. For my macro projects I use a 24-inch HDMI monitor connected to the camera that allows me to analyze critical focus and it really works well. I chose an area of the subject around the mouth and bottom of an eye and shot two images - one with the extension tube at 71mm and the lens at 1:1 and another image without the extension tube and at 1:1. Same results!

This is absolutely nuts and I just don't get it. Can anyone help me understand what's going on here? As it stands I'm prepared to return the extension tube. This image quality is just unacceptable.
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4/29/17
2 Photos - View album

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Choosing a Lesser Evil : Heavy Vignetting or Crazy Exposure Times??

Hoping to hear others opinions on making this decision ...

Here's the problem: With my typical macro setup I experience heavy vignetting caused by stopping down the aperture on a reversed-lens arrangement. The vignetting is preventing me from utilizing the full-frame angle of view. Aside from the vignetting problem the arrangement gives me excellent results and has set my baseline expectations for reproduction ratio, image quality, and overall time required to complete a project.

A possible solution: I finally decided to try an extension tube as a possible solution (a variable tube from 55 - 71mm tube). The extension tube definitely improved the vignetting problem; the vignetting is gone except for a touch in the immediate corners. I also gained a huge amount of working distance to the subject which is always a good thing. But there a two problems:
1) Reproduction ratio is less than using my reversed lens arrangement. 2) The extension tube caused a HUGE reduction in light - up to 8 stops reduction!! I was shocked to learn that I had to expose for 30-seconds for a decent exposure and I know with a different (darker) subject I would have to run in bulb mode. And that problem only gets worse if I reduce another 2-stops by adding a circular polarizer.

So I have to make a decision to either live with the heavy vignetting from the reversed lens or to use the extension tube and run crazy-long exposures. And I'll tell ya, I see potential for a lot of problems with the latter. Frankly I'm not sure its manageable but I'd like to hear other opinions.

The following 5 images show comparisons with various setups of my 1:1 lens alone, using the reversed-lens arrangement, and using the extension tube. Each image explains the comparisons which is the same as the following text:

Image 1:
Setup: 105mm lens focused to 1:1 at f/16
Summary: This image represents the baseline for all my calculations. This is the simplest setup I would use, which is a standalone 105mm f/2.8 micro lens.

Image 2:
Setup: 105mm main lens focused to 1:1 at f/16 - 50mm reversed lens focused to infinity and aperture wide open.
Summary: This is not a practical setup. Creates a working distance of only 8mm. Must leave reversed lens focused to infinity (focusing closer moves focal point inside of lens). Light vignette visible even with reversed lens wide open.

This represents the greatest reproduction I can achieve with my current gear (using a 1:1 macro lens + a reversed 50mm lens), but this is extremely difficult to light with only 8mm of working distance. I also get ~6mm extension from the lens adapter ring. An 8mm working distance also eliminates focus stacking for most insects I would photograph. In order to achieve a practical setup with the reversed lens I have no choice but to back off the focus on the main lens.

Image 3:
Setup: 105mm main lens focused to 1:2 at f/16 - 50mm reversed lens focused to infinity and aperture wide open.
Summary: Working distance is now ~ 16mm. Vignette is now a problem with focus set to 1:2. This is a setup that I have used a number of times with great results. Although the working distance is only 16mm I am usually able to light my subjects without too much trouble and this working distance also allows me more room for focus stacking.

Image 4:
Setup: 105mm main lens focused to 1:2 at f/3.5 - 50mm reversed lens focused to infinity and stopped down to ~f/8.
Summary: Working distance is still ~ 16mm. Essentially the same vignetting as previous setup. Lighting is now diffused.

The previous setup works well (reversed lens wide open and main lens at f/16) but I found that I can get sharper images by stopping down the reversed lens and open the main lens wide open. This image looks very similar to the last but two things are different: The main lens is now at f/3.5 and the reversed lens is stopped down to ~f/8. NOTE: By adding light diffusion this image represents typical exposure for projects using this setup with shutter speeds around 1.0 – 2.0 seconds. This is more or less my threshold for pain related to exposure time.

Image 5:
Setup: 105mm main lens focused to 1:1 at f/16 - 71mm extension tube installed.
Summary: Working distance is huge at 114mm. Vignetting only in immediate corners. Less reproduction ratio than previous setup. A tremendous loss of light requiring a 30-second exposure!

I was shocked at the loss of light using the extension tube. The working distance is excellent and I no longer see the large vignette. But I lose magnification and the exposure time is horrendous even using a shiny silver metallic subject. A dark-colored insect may require exposures in bulb mode. (?)
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4/28/17
5 Photos - View album

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Hammer Throw at the Loch Norman Highland Games

Its turning out that most of my better photos of the athletes of this year's games were during warm-ups rather than during actual competition. Or at least during warm-ups I was better able to isolate the athlete from an overly cluttered and overly distracting background otherwise. This image is one of my favorites from watching the athletes begin their warm-up routine for the hammer throw competition. 
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