Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time for Lunch

My wife had just said it was time for lunch. I got up from my desk and walked outside. At the edge of our deck we have this arbour that is (finally) full of morning glories and there in front of me was this spider working for his (her?) own lunch. Mine would have to wait. Armed with my 70-200mm lens with the 500D macro adapter and tripod I headed back outside to take a spider portrait. Here are three pictures of the spider and his lunch.

1/200 f/9 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 150 mm Canon EOS 40D

The good thing about the Morning Glories is that it offered a well shaded studio for my spider friend. I took about 60 pictures as he worked at hauling his catch back to the dinning room.

1/400 f/9 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 195 mm Canon EOS 40D

Getting a sharp focus is always a challenge with macro photography. When working in the macro range, your depth of field is really short. maybe a centimeter or two. That means that anything closer than that sharpest point by more than a cm or further away is out of focus. You can easily see that in the above image. The spider eyes are in sharp focus, but his near and far legs are not. That is because they are outside of the depth of field range.

You can increase your depth of field by using a smaller aperture. Here I was using f/9. There was a bit of a breeze that was also causing problems. With the stonger gusts of wind, the entire spider would be blown beyond the DoF. I used a fast shutter speed of 1/400 to help freeze the motion. I had the camera set to auto ISO, and it picked ISO400 which was a fine choice.

I used manual focus because I wanted to very precisely control what was in focus. Usually what I though was the spider's eyes. Auto focus can get distracted. If your camera has live view, it can be very helpful in these critical focusing situations. Switch to live view mode and then zoom in to a 5x view it is much easier to adjust focus this way, I find. I don't find the 10x zoom to be as useful. At that level of zoom even touching the camera creates a lot of shake that makes focusing difficult.

1/250 f/9 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 195 mm Canon EOS 40D

I checked back later and found the wasp had shrunk to a much smaller size. I guess the spider had a good lunch.
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