ABOUT ME

I live in a camper van with a couple of West Highland Terriers for company.
My passion is photography but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN
ALL IMAGES WILL ENLARGE WITH A LEFT CLICK

Saturday, 22 February 2014

IMPRESSED. (22/02/14)

John at MIDMARSH JOTTINGS pointed me in the direction of Zerene Stacker. I downloaded the trial version and am very impressed. It is much the same price as Helicon Focus which I used previously. Helicon has advantages in that it will accept RAW images and it comes with a tethered shooting facility. It is slower and the results are a bit hit and miss in my hands.  This software is coming of age. I have even chucked a dark frame in to try and throw it but it never even hiccupped. Zerene shows you in real time the results of it’s stacking. Helicon shows the masks. It’s horses for courses at the end of the day. They both cost around US$ 200. They aren’t cheap but you do get 30 days free.2014-02-22-14.22.45 ZS PMax Hypogymnia physodes……I hope. The twig is 3mm across at the bottom of this image. Shot at between 1:1 and 2:1 using the Canon MP-E 65mm on a Velbon slider. Flash is a Canon MR-14EX and the light from the left is about a quarter of that from the right or visa versa. The camera was controlled tethered to the laptop using the free Canon EOS software. There are fifteen images all at slightly different distances. I shoot against a bit of black cloth. Flash metering was spot ETTL. Less a stop. It’s much easier to rescue shadows than highlights. Who gives a damn what is lurking in the shadows?

2014-02-22-14.34.52 ZS PMax I think this is the same lichen but a bit older. It seems to go like fine hairs eventually. This is thirty two separate images including three black frames. The flash didn’t fire. I think it needs new batteries. I see I should have taken another ten as there are some out of focus bits in the background. I find it difficult to tell, Helicon will drive a stepping motor and work out the gaps. I don’t have anything that posh. I found Zerene intuitive. It even tells me which directory it has filed stuff in. I can spend ages looking for images if they get plonked in the wrong folder. Photomatix is a bugger for that if you don’t remember to tell it. Photoshop will quite happily pop stitched panoramas a day before they were shot. PS can’t fool me now though because I am wise and know where to look.

I’m happy with this software. Thanks John. No haloing and no funny artefacts at the edges. I think it will do me. These were processed using the pyramid algorithm. There is another that uses colour or you can use both and a touch up brush to clear up any bits you don’t like. 

11479215786_f7234780ae_b 

Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) by Yousef Al-Habshi, on Flickr. His images are stunning and well worth an hour or two appreciating.

This is what I aspire to. This is 220 separate images. Yousef is a master of macro. I dread to think what the gear cost and the time it took to master the lighting. It’s perfect but a pound to a penny he doesn’t think so.

There is much fun to be had here.

_MG_2999_3000_3001_fused Back in my comfort zone, though it wasn’t very comfortable this morning. Freezing and wet it was.

Enjoy Sunday.

30 comments:

  1. Wot ney Reindeer! The palm weevil makes up for the lack of reindeer mind, it looks like something from Dr.Who!!!!
    I really could stare at the lichen images all day I must me getting odd as I grow old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Douglas, the little buggers have run up hill into the snow. They have some penned up down here but that is like shooting a Whooper Swan at Slimbridge. No bother and not worth the effort.

      Delete
  2. I never thought I would say this but the lichen looks good. It is a really pretty color against the black background.

    It is hard for me to believe Yousef's picture is of a real insect. It looks like a monster some really talented artist thought up and painted.

    I think you've posted a similar picture to #4. This one I like but I liked the other better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, I'lltry and be more inventive with macro. It is amazing what one can see even at 1:1. I can only go to 5:1. The stacking is a pain.
      All my morning walk pictures are similar. It's where we walk.

      Delete
  3. Brilliant Adrian. Looks like the Dozy version is more expensive than the Mac one. Making sure every part is in focus takes more patience than I sometimes have. At the moment I am just hand adjusting the focus on the 70-200mm. Must dig out the Arduino driven gizmo I built to get accurate spacing between shots. New batch tomorrow. What I like with Zerene is when I drag and drop a stacking set to it the resulting photo can be quickly saved back in that folder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same price John. I wish that the Velbon had a micrometer screw and a double anti backlash nut on it. A scale wouldn't go amiss.
      Yes it is easy but give Helicon a whirl before you decide. I love it. It drops the final image into the folder that created it. I see you have the same problem that I do. Where is it, what is is it, who am I.
      Thanks again, I suspect that in the right hands it may be good enough and good enough is near enough. Near enough is never good enough.

      Delete
  4. Technically perfect shots have never been the ultimate goal for me, although that certainly is important (even though we all try to aspire to the rules and buy top gear). It's about the emotions an image can evoke. For example, your beach shot speaks so much more to me then the perfect vibrant macro above it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mersad, it is never about the gear. Did you shoot your sister with on camera flash? If you did tell me how.
      I just love the medium. I love the challenge of setting up a light system with a very uncooperative lens and any result if it's sharp is fine by me. It is a real bonus if I can stack thirty images. Four or five hours for a wee bit of lichen. I need to get a life.
      It's the journey I enjoy.

      Delete
    2. I didn't use a flash in those recent photos, even though I have a flash unit. The Canon 6D is extremely good in low light. I guess this is a part where the gear can come in handy.

      Delete
  5. That is an impressive macro of the weevil. Good to see you have been busy while you have been locked up indoors. But I am not sure why anyone would take 220 images to arrive at just one ~ with or without stacking software. I was just thinking a few weeks ago that you hadn't done any macro for a while ~ but I guess in the cold all you have is lichen ~ and reindeer poo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, there are photographers and snappers. Neither is bad but I love digital and the opportunities it offers. I have never mastered the equipment I was born with but mastering strobes, software and light is very hard. I can easily understand Yousef.
      The result speaks for itself.

      Delete
  6. Love the weevil, love his shoes! Good stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great work on the first images Adrian, you must have unending patience?
    I must say Yousef has created a masterpiece with that Weevil, can you beat it?...[;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trevor, I do like macro. Even if if I'm not sure what I've shot. That Yousef is a star bar.
      No way will I ever get that good. It's fun trying though.

      Delete
  8. Forgot to say thanks for the mention.
    Just recovering from our second power cut this evening - goodness knows what is going on. The PC is on a UPS so at least I can shut it down safely, as is the Freesat receiver so any recording in progress doesn't get scrambled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, I took the dogs a walk to the pub. They have to sit really still while I stack images.
      It is good fun and only a few years since I found Combine ZP and did a Biro.

      Tell Dithery...We are not a third world country. He will come for a photo with you and the dog. It's about all he is fit for.

      Delete
    2. PS. I just remembered, Helicon does a 3D scroll around but it picks the camera angle and lighting. Last time I looked it was more of a gimmick or an App than useful. I will download Helicon's latest version and give it a whirl. It takes me six hours to set up, light and play with macro. The dogs have to be tired so that is two hours of it. This is a fun bit of kit. It is easy, I don't know why but I am wary of easy.

      Delete
  9. The macros are stunning... The lake beautiful as ever

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laura, the loch was not a pleasant lace to be and it's worse this morning. Macros are fun to do.

      Delete
  10. I love macros against black and yours look very dramatic. I will check out the software too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maria, It is well worth a look. Helicon is more versatile but to be honest this appears to do a better job.

      Delete
  11. Your blog is sometimes a real pain Adrian. This post has just cost me about 15 minutes of what remains of my life. I not only read every word but actually understood what it was you were doing. I remember the biro. I love macro but what I do is just pretend stuff compared with the absolutely stunning images above.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Graham, I'm sorry, no, I'm devastated. I'll feel guilty all day.
    Your camera has much greater depth of field so you can usually get away without stacking. The MP-E at 5x has a DOF of around 0.5mm. I enjoy messing around. There will be another day of it. It's raining hard and the wind is gusting 50mph. Tomorrow looks as if it could be a better day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, that are the most impressiveness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob, I've tried several focus stacking programmes but Zerene is the easiest and probably the best.

      Delete
  14. The problem with any artist is that you constantly compare yourself against the masters and feel yourself lacking. And while Yousef's photo is incredible - I think your lichens are amazing in their own right. The second one I like a bit better than the first, but they are both beautiful; if this is what you can do with lesser equipment, I can't imagine what you could produce with greater! I also have my own feelings on the price of software these days, but it would just be a lot grumbling, as you might imagine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nathaniel, I shoot and post the same day. It doesn't do a lot for quality but it does inspire me to work fast.
      Yousef is using a step motor driven camera driver I suspect. He will also have several strobes. He didn't start off that way. He can use the equipment.
      I bet he can see room for improvement. It's in a photographers nature to never be satisfied.
      Software I don't mind paying for. To me it is like buying magic. I do use some shareware as well and always feel a little guilty that I can't give anything back.

      Delete
  15. Estupendos macros...Me encanta la ├║ltima foto !!!
    Un abrazo.

    ReplyDelete