Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Like Angels on the Head of a Pin

Among the flowering plants that perennially appear in the little "meadow" in my side yard each spring is this flower in the fleabane family. It is a type of wild aster called "Robin's Plantain" and stands about 1-1/2 - 2 feet high. It is found over the entire eastern half of the United States and Canada. There is nothing in the photo to which to compare it's size, but the blossom is a little larger than a nickel and a little smaller than a quarter.

Here is the blossom of one flower which illustrates how a macro lens can film things at life size or even larger. As you film closer and closer, however, depth of field becomes a real problem. Notice how the top half of the bloom is not in focus. Focusing was further complicated by the wind on the day I took these pictures. Also, notice how the petals have a slight pinkish hue which is more noticeable when they have newly opened. On some Robin's Plantain, the hue can be slightly bluish.

One year a type of weevil took an interest in the blooms. There are over 60,000 different types of weevils. The boll weevil is probably the most well known of them all. If the flower is a little smaller than a quarter, you get the idea of how small these weevils were. They were only five or six millimeters in length.

Trying to get the best compromise between shutter speed (a slow 1/40 sec.) and focus (f/13) produced this photo where not quite everything was in focus. Plus, now the dust on the sensor became visible (the little black spots which can be cloned out, but is a pain if there are very many of them).

I thought they would make a good subject for macro photography. I used a 100 mm macro lens as well as an extension tube (which allows even closer focus) on a focusing rack. The rack allows movement of the entire camera rather than only the lens. In other words, I could focus fairly close, then adjust the rack to "fine tune" the adjustment.

What I didn't count on was the wind that day. One second the flower would be in the frame and I would try to carefully focus and the next second the wind would blow it completely out of the frame. There are different solutions to wind such as take it indoors or block the wind with something like an umbrella, but perhaps the easiest is just to come back on a day when it isn't windy.

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