Just one more fly ;)

I really like this shot, we were just hanging around in the garden when I spotted this fly …:

Just a small fly in your garden!

Just a small fly in your garden!

This was made with the mighty Olympus OM Zuiko 50/3.5 macro lens on the Sony A7R, at open aperture. Depending on your point of view, manual focus is a breeze or a pain in the ass. I find it to be the latter, as the depth of focus is soooow shallow …. anyway, the lens is amazingly crisp and sharp!

Hot, hot summer – that means new nature and macro shots!

Here’s a selection of new shots that I got the last weekend. I was out at 6 in the morning on Friday, at 8 on Saturday and another couple of hours on Sunday… this is the outcome:

All insect shots shown here – save one – were shot with the A7R and the Sony FE 70-200/4 lens. For the one with the male Orthetrum sp. I used an old manual focus Sigma Apo 400/5.6 lens.

One nice nature shot per day…

…really is enough, isn’t it? :)

Nomad darter (ympetrum fonscolombii).

Nomad darter (ympetrum fonscolombii).

(click on the picture above to see a 16 MP variant, big enough for almost any need I’d guess…)

Thomas

A note to myself: Gotta do more black&white!

So, I took this shot of a departing Germanwings Airbus, next to Cologne-Bonn airport, as it passed over my head. Nothing so spectacular. A photographer friend whom I showed the photo, though, suggested I’d try a black&white conversion. So I did and tried to enhance the contrast between the cloud in the center of the image versus the plain black sky that frames this shot.

I know it’s gear porn talk but I just have to say how much I love the 36 MP sensor for black&white conversions. You can do so much in post… throw color filters and everything on these files, and they just stand up to whatever you do … they just deliver. Great!

Airliner, color.

Airliner, color.

Airliner, black&white.

Airliner, black&white.

The bottom line is that I was never that much into black&white digital photography. It feels more like black&white photoshopping to me. You don’t put the filters on your camera, you just add them in post. A click here and there, some “effects” … not my kind of stuff, really. But I realise that you can get great results in Lightroom. Plus the only real black&white camera on the whole market is the Leica Monochrome and it’s just far out of my price range. I’ve seen some folks do convert standard color digital cameras to black&white sensors. Anyway, now that I have a camera with a sensor that responds so nicely to post-processing stuff, I’ll probably do black&white conversions more often.

Wahner Heide – the heath at Cologne

This is a gem. I admit that even though I now live in Cologne since about 14 years, I’ve never ever been there before. The Wahner Heide is located directly at the airport Cologne-Bonn. It’s even fairly convenient to use the regional trains – or even the tramway – to get you there. It’s a rather narrow strip of land between the airport and the loud A3 motorway, but nonetheless home to many rare flowers, birds and a lot of nice little critters. Like a lot of today’s nature paradises, it was used for military manoeuvres during Cold War.

So these are pictures from my first two short trips to the Wahner Heide. I hope I’ll get much more in the next couple of years. :)

I provide these as a gallery. Hope it’s convenient to watch for you. The images are available in 1024px width … I’m sorry but I only noticed after uploading and editing the whole gallery that I could have gone with a bit larger image files (there’s a link to the original uploaded file at every single photo). Oh well … next time :)

On a technical note, these were all taken with either the FE 35/2.8 or the FE 70-200/4 lens, I use the Canon 500D closeup lens for some shots with the latter lens. See the EXIFs which are displayed in the gallery view. Some of the closeups also were shot with the Sony system flash mounted on top of the camera. But whenever possible – especially at overcast weather – I also try to take pictures without the flash, because the natural light is just so much softer.

enjoy – Thomas

Sony A7R + FE 70-200/4 + Canon 500D closeup lens: Demoiselles and butterflies in Cologne

Hey… just got my newest toy, the Canon 500D achromatic closeup lens, a screw-on lens that turns the 70-200 lens into a highly versatile tele macro. What really amazes me is that the pictures of this combo are so much sharper than when I used my trusty old OM Zuiko 135/2.8 and extension tubes on the A7R.

Here are a couple of insect shots, taken at the Flehbachaue and Brücker Wildpark at Cologne, Germany. I also throw in some landscape shots to give an idea where these critters live.

My standard camera setting is M, shutter speed around 1/320 to 1/5oo sec., depending on if it is windy or not, f/8 to f/11, and auto ISO which on a typical insect shooting day normally ends up somewhere between ISO 250 and 2000 … and I use a Sony system flash which mainly acts as a fill-in, in high-speed-sync TTL mode.

Here’s a couple of Demoiselles:

Demoiselle (female).

Demoiselle, female (Calopteryx virgo).

Download 36 MP full resolution file (please respect copyright!).

Demoiselle (male).

Demoiselle, male (Calopteryx virgo).

And here’s where they live:

Brück wild life park, Cologne.

Flehbach in Brück wild life park, Cologne.

Brück wild life park, Cologne.

Flehbach in Brück wild life park, Cologne.

Next, some butterflies:

Red Admiral.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).

Small tortoiseshell.

Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae).

And these two I found here:

At Cologne-Brück.

At Cologne-Brück.

At Cologne-Brück.

At Cologne-Brück.

Some more random shots of today. Especially the first one shows that there is a limit regarding the closeup possibilities of the lens. It’s almost perfect for dragonflies and damselflies, but not that good for smaller insects – you’d prefer a true 90 or 100 mm macro lens for those, but Sony does not make one so far for its FE system…

Assassin fly (Neomochtherus geniculatus).

Assassin fly (Neomochtherus geniculatus)… on my camera bag :p

Crane Fly.

Crane Fly.

Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella).

Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella).

cheers,
Thomas

Of spiders and lizards

These lizards live at the river Rhine, at Boppard, which is located just south of Koblenz. After I left the spot to go home, shortly before sunset, I passed s small pedestrian tunnel, and saw this spider trying to make a web at the tunnel entrance. “These photos make that I want to become a spider.” That’s what a friend of mine said when he saw these pictures. Wow! What a compliment :)

These pictures were taken with the A7R and either the OM Zuiko 135/2.8 or OM Zuiko 50/3.5 macro lens. Both give really high-quality images. But you have to be really patient to get really close to the lizard with the 50mm macro lens….

Lizard 1.

Lizard 1.

Lizard 2.

Lizard 2.

Lizard 3.

Lizard 3.

Lizard 4.

Lizard 4.

Lizard 5.

Lizard 5.

Spider 1.

Spider 1.

Spider 2.

Spider 2.