Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

Some of you may be wondering where all the bug related posts have gone. Well, neither the available time nor the weather has been particularly cooperative but here’s what I could scrape together.

First up is this butterfly which isn’t a duck. No, I’m not crazy, I’m very sure it’s not a duck, positive. The reason I’m talking about ducks is that I was actually on my way to shoot some ducklings that I had spotted in the park we were at. However, some kids managed to scare them off very effectively before I could get there. So there I was, camera in hand and nothing to shoot, when I saw this butterfly (for it wasn’t a duck, we’ve established that) sitting on a clover. I hadn’t been able to shoot this particular type of butterfly before since I had never seen them sit still for very long, but this one seemed fairly content where it was.

The big difference between this and my other bug shots is that I didn’t use any flash this time. The reason was simply that I didn’t have the flash with me since I was in duck mode. I had to open up the aperture to f11 to get a fast enough shutter speed for a sharp picture in the faint breeze, luckily the critter itself wasn’t moving. Even though it was a sunny day I would still have liked some more light on the right side of the frame to balance the light better. I chose this composition because I wanted the whole wing in the frame but actually I find it a bit distracting, my eye is drawn to the bright wings instead of the eye, which should be the real focal point of the image. That’s why I would have like to balance the light with some flash. Of course, that’s something I only noticed once I viewed it on my computer – at the time I was preoccupied with being flat on my belly in slightly damp grass, getting funny looks from people passing by.

HoverflyThis hoverfly isn’t a duck either, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be, so that’s fine – it was almost a bee though, almost. This was shot at my dad’s place where I didn’t get around to hunting as many bugs as I had hoped. Right before I took this picture my wife spotted a bee that was sitting completely still on a flower, just begging to be shot. I rushed off to get the camera bag from the car, the bee was still there, I changed lens to my macro lens, the bee was still there, I got the flash, flash cord and diffuser out, the bee was still there, I put everything together, looked up, the bee was gone. Too bad, would have loved to get some nice shots of a more cooperative bee than the ones I’ve had to chase around before.

Instead of the bee I had to settle for these guys, who definitely weren’t sitting still. This wasn’t my favourite shot in terms of composition and colour (there were some much nicer flowers) but it’s the only where focus is spot on. As you can see the sun was quite bright so I could (should) have left the flash off in order to get some shots of the bee before it took off. I guess I’m not used to having a lot of sun so I didn’t really consider it at the time.

LadybugFinally we have this ladybug, which thankfully didn’t have any aspirations toward being anything other than a ladybug (not even a duck, awesome though they may be). This shot was only possible thanks to my assistant (my lovely wife, in case you haven’t been paying attention for the last 40 or so posts) who lent me an extra hand to hold the flower in position for me. I needed both to keep the flower steady in the overly enthusiastic wind and to move it in order to get a nice composition. The critter wasn’t moving very fast but it never really stopped completely either, often ending up on the wrong side of the flower or in awkward positions to shoot. If cybernetic limbs ever becomes a reality I’m getting another arm or two attached.

In this shot we can also see one of the problems with using flash for bugs: specular highlights. Bugs with shiny and smooth exterior in particular can be very tricky to light in a good way. I’ve been telling myself I should build a small softbox (the one I have is a bit overkill to bring on bug hunts) in an attempt to get better light but, you know…procrastination…I’m still young, I’ll get around to it.

There you have it, something to satisfy your bug addiction for a while.

Sorry about the ducks.


Butterfly Hoverfly Ladybug Butterfly

8 Responses to “Where did the ducks go?”

  1. Shelly

    I sort of like the “unbalanced” nature of your first photograph; it adds tension and interest. My eye was drawn to the butterfly’s eye first because that was in focus, and then led down the very interesting lines on the left side of the photo, along the wings.

    As for your soft-box project … if you do make a small “field” softbox, I hope you’ll consider posting some photographs and instructions of the project 🙂

    • Rifqi

      I’ll definitely make a post about it if I get around to it, just don’t expect a masterpiece in engineering :p

  2. forkboy1965

    I’m not particularly overwhelmed by the wing on the butterfly either, but maybe a bit more crop/zoom could take out some of the wing?

    • Rifqi

      I would love to get closer but this is as close as it gets with my current setup. As for cropping, I’ve made a decision not to crop any of my macros. Maybe it’s a stupid decision but I want to give people a clear view of how close you get. It also gives me good practice at composition, one of the areas where I think my photography is the weakest. Of course, if I ever manage to get a real killer shot that will be absolutely perfect with some slight cropping, I might consider it. But that’s not likely to happen in a while :p

      • forkboy1965

        Your idea to not crop is an interesting one. Clearly it does force the photographer to be more cognizant of what they are doing when they press the shutter release.

        However, for myself I have found that shooting wildlife (in particular) often leads to the get the best shot you can because you can never tell when the subject is going to fly off…. run away….. turn it’s back to you, etc. I always endeavor to get the composition and framing right when I’m shooting, but I also find I get more shots when I worry less about that and simply get the shot and worry about framing back at the computer.

        But that’s the great thing about photography, don’t you think? We all have our own ways of doing things all in the identical quest for a beautiful picture.

      • Rifqi

        Yeah, there are usually as many opinions as there are photographers. Another important factor to why I don’t crop may macros in particular is that I think it’s extra important to preserve as much detail as possible in those shots. I have no problem cropping my portrait work, cropping is more the rule than the exception for those shots.

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