Thursday, July 7, 2011

Camping at Patrick's Point (very North in CA) - Macro photography

We just returned from 5 days of camping in Patrick's Point State Park and had a great time. While my wife and kids were searching for agates on Agate Beach, I was searching for cool pictures along the trails of the state park. Having been to the park many times in the past, this time I decided to focus on macro photography for a portion of the trip. (Photographers note: There is nothing better than putting yourself on assignment. Think of an interesting topic and spend some time searching out those shots. Since I had photographed here before and already taken many of the "standard images", I wanted to try something different. This also forced me to walk much slower and look at details which I would never have seen in the past.)

This park is known for the abundance of banana slugs, much to my kids entertainment and disgust. Most people take images of these creatures from afar and avoid getting too close to these slimy guys. I used my Sigma 70mm macro lens (sometimes with an extension tube) to get right into their world up close and personal. (You can click on the images to see them larger.)

Our camp site was surrounded by flowering plants, which meant that I did not have to go far to key in on the bees which were hard at work collecting pollen. (Photographers note: When using a macro lens and shooting up close like this, you will want to choose an aperture of at least f11 to give you some wiggle room in your depth of field. This is especially true if you are using an extension tube with your macro lens. I find it easier to turn off auto focus and instead focus manually and slowly lean in and out of the shot to try and nail the focus.)

This macro shot captures the bumble bee with his tongue deep into the flower. It also looks like he is looking right into the lens of the camera.

I found this little guy hanging out on a leaf and was captivated by the iridescent colors showing on his wings.
As with any good photography, composition is very important. I saw this sprout which extended above the others and was perfectly framed by some green ferns in the background. I used the macro lens and set the aperture to blur the ferns while keeping the forground plant in perfect focus.

As I walked slowly along the hiking trail, I came across a banana slug on a tree trunk. I looked at it and determined that it was not photo worthy. But, then I looked up and saw this tiny little mushroom growing out of the trunk. Even though this mushroom was probably no more than one inch wide, the macro lens helps to get us up close to show the details that we might not ever see otherwise.

I saw these beautiful yellow flowers and thought that they might make a nice picture, but it needed a little more. Then I came across this fly who was hanging out, obviously waiting for a portrait session, so I obliged. The large red eyes and the colors in the wings really worked well against the bright yellow pedals of the flower.

This last macro shot is probably my favorite of the collection. Honestly, it was not my intention to get this insect in the shot. I was leaning down to take an image of the purple flower and then this little guy flew into the frame. I quickly repositioned and fired off some shots to try and get the insect in perfect focus. (Photographers note: Not all photos can be perfectly planned, and that is OK. Learn to adapt quickly to any situation and you will capture some really nice shots to add to your portfolio.)
Look for more images from this trip in the coming weeks. I gave myself some other assignements which included:

1. Capturing images from a different perspective
2. Wildlife in and around the park
3. Night shots (sunsets, the moon and star trails)

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