Retrospective: August 2018.

The first in what I hope to be a monthly series, I look back at the previous month, the photos I took, and what I can do to improve.

Let us start with one of the first pictures I took in August.

Untitled 58

2nd August. 1/60, f/8, ISO1600.

Spiders are one of my favourite things to photograph, and one of my favourite invertebrates. I may be a bit biased, given I keep several of them as pets!

But let’s look at this photo. There are some issues.

As anyone that’s dabbled in macro photography will know, depth of field is a major issue when you are up close. That makes focusing on the right spot critical, and as evidenced by this photo I missed it here.

This was taken in the woods, with not a lot of natural light. I’m not too worried by the noise in this picture from the high ISO, it blends in decently with the background. But it did limit my shutter and aperture settings, which normally I’d want to keep as fast and as stopped down as possible. Had I been able to use a smaller aperture I could have got more of the spider and web in focus, leading to a better picture.

A theme with many of the photos during the start of the month is I was a bit too heavy handed with the white balance, giving everything a purplish sheen. While pinks and purples make for my favourite colours, it doesn’t look great when every picture takes on that look.

I think the composition itself is okay here. It could maybe do with something to give a better sense of scale, but otherwise I’m happy with the wider field of view, rather than just a cropped close up of the spider.

Now let’s look at a photo taken towards the end of the month.

Untitled 80

23rd August. 1/125, f/16, ISO100.

I’m much happier with how this photo turned out.

All the important parts of the butterfly are in focus, with a much deeper depth of field.

What I dislike most about this photo is the background. It’s a little messy. Either a narrower depth of field, or a brighter background might have helped. Slightly moving the angle I took the photo from would have probably helped too, I don’t like the piece of grass cutting straight through the middle of the picture.

The flower is looking slightly washed out here. I did this intentionally at the time so that it wouldn’t overpower the colour of the butterfly, but looking at it now I think I may have overdone it just a little. It may well have worked as a better image if the flower was brighter, proving more contrast to the subtle patterns and coloration of the butterfly. It does serve to give a sense of scale and content though, which I’m happy with.

Now there was a big change in my equipment this month that enabled me to get this picture, and to shoot at much higher f-stop.

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Ever since I started getting up close I realised how difficult getting enough light would be, especially given much of my shooting takes place in shady places where the insects are. Getting that flash instantly made a big difference to what I was able to shoot.

On a side note, I had to actually swap bodies as well. The M100 I originally acquired has no hot shoe, so I also swapped to the M6. Pretty much the exact same internals, but with the ability for me to mount a flash.

That brings me on to this month. My focus is on mastering the use of the flash. I am also trying to be more aware of everything in view when I take the photo, especially the background. It’s all too easy to become entirely focused on the subject matter and ignore everything else going on in the scene.

Finally, my favourite photo this month.

Untitled 75

19th August. 1/60, f/22, ISO400.

Again, it’s the background here I’m not entirely happy with. Maybe a little brighter, or softer?

So, what do you think? If you’ve got any suggestions on how best to use the flash do please leave a comment below, or find me over on Mastodon.

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