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By HarrietH
I have no idea what kind of insect this is but I think a kind of dragon fly.

Tags: Macro Close-up and macro

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


CathR 11 151 564 United Kingdom
9 Aug 2010 10:05AM
I like this Harriet. All the colours tone together very well to give a harmonious whole. I don't think it is quite sharp but it has a lovely quality about it, almost like a watercolour, which might be compromised if it is sharpened any more.

Good shot and something a bit different.

Best wishes


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paulbroad 10 123 1238 United Kingdom
9 Aug 2010 6:13PM
It is a Dragonfly, but it really does need to be very much sharper. You give us no details, but you needed f16 or f18 at least with a fast enough shutter speed to freeze movement. I always use at least a monopod for close up, preferrably a tripod.

With natural history close up, sharpness is everything, and you have the right gear. think depth of field ,and camera/subject movement. You must deal with both, and it's not easy. i must amit to usually reling on flash, but I did invest nearly £300 in a good - Sigma - ringflash.

Depends how much you need to get that particular type of image right.

lawbert 11 1.8k 15 England
9 Aug 2010 6:45PM
Its a dragonfly and part of the darter family but you will need to find a resource that is specific for your part of the world as there are a plethora of variants.

As for the picture it looks like a huge crop to me ?
The bg is superb ....Maybe you have shot at an F number which is ridiculously high which wont make the image sharp...F8 is about the sharpest F number any lens captures the most detail.
Looks like you had good light so I really wouldnt spend any money on a ring flash until you have mastered the lense and its capabilities.

Lawbert (Paul)
9 Aug 2010 6:57PM
I just had a look at the properties. I took so many shots that morning that I had forgotten. This was one of the few times that I used automatic and it says the focal length 90mm, exposure 1/400 at f8.
I have been thinking about the flash, but the light here in Portugal, especially near the ocean is very intense and the ground is very light coloured as well. I did crop, but not that much as I got fairly close to the "dragon" he was very co-operative.
I just hope that I meet him on another day when I remember to have my monopod. There is no vr on the Tamron 90mm.
I had been meaning to delete it but I suppose it is good to compare with later shots.
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3864 Canada
9 Aug 2010 8:18PM
HI Harriet.

Ive looked at your portfolio and read your forum posts on macro to get a sense of what your doing.

Yes, - its normal to have to get used to macro and take many many shots that will look soft, blurry and its easy to get discouraged. That macro lens doesnt make taking the shots any easier, - its a tool you need to learn to use.

The Tamron 90mm is an excellent macro lens btw.

Its worthwhile getting to understand some basics, then practice using what you know. Macro means large, not small, and what macro photography means is to make small things large. So you are magnifying subjects by getting very close to them. You can fill the lens with a an insect, or get close enough to show only s single stamen in a flower.

First thing to remember is that when you are close to the subject, and you are magnifying it, the tiniest movement of either the camera OR the subject will ruin the shot, as tiny movements are magnified. So tip #1 is use a tripod. Tip # 2 is to use a remote shutter release, or the self timer to you dont cause even the slightest movement in the camera by pressing the shutter.

Start with indoor subjects, like flowers where theres not breeze to cause movement.

Next thing to know is that the closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field is.

See for a good read on this and you will understand.

Essentially this means that at f/2.8, which is the largest opening for the aperture on this lens, the distance from the camera that is sharp to the end of that distance, - i.e. the depth, is extremely small, - in the range if millimeters.
This will work to your advantage as you can isolate a single flower stamen and have the rest of the flower blurred, - one of the traits of macro shooting. This also means that when shooting a subject with depth, - even a 1/4 of an inch such as a fly, you need to use a really small aperture size, - like f/11 and up. The bigger the number, the smaller the aperture (hole) size, and the greater the depth you can achieve.
You may notice that many good macro shots of butterfly's for example are all shot from the side, so the need for depth is minimal. Id you try a macro shot of one of these requiring depth of say 2 inches, you will end up with part of the insect sharp and part blurred.

next thing to think about is, - the smaller you aperture, the less light will come through to the sensor, therefore the slower the shutetr speed will be to allow more time for the light. This is whay you need a tripod, or a support, and you need to become familiar with increasing your ISO setting to allow reasonable shutter speeds.

Basically, set you camera to Aperture priority; set the aperture value to f/11; use MANUAL focus (important); set ISO to 100; take a shot using a tripod. See the result, then take more shots sing smaller apertures without touching focus or ISO. The to the same with higher ISO settings, and you will get a very good "feel" for whats going on.

Wish you luck, and look forward to seeing progress.


Gaucho 16 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2010 4:21PM
All very good advice. However, a tripod whilst trying to shoot butterflies and darters and the like is not what I would advise as you just can't get in close enough without scaring them away. I don't even use a mono-pod. I live in the south of France where the light is much the same as where you're based, i.e. plenty of it. I never use flash. Set your lens to manual and when you're there or there abouts, just rock gently back and forth to get in focus. With butterflies, side shots when their wings are closed, above them when open though you can get cool shots of them from below. I usually use f11/f16 with a decent shutter speed. Your darter should have been a lot sharper at those settings, so the fault I would guess, is with your focussing. I don't worry too much about the little green dot, try and rely on your eyes. I find it easier to approach these guys with camera to the eye, left eye guiding you in until you get close enough. That way you can move slowly without having to move the camera and frighten them off. You will definitely get there. It just needs loads of practice. Oh and darters are easier than butterflies in my view. Much braver Smile

11 Aug 2010 4:33PM
Sounds very sound advice to me, I think I will leave the butteflies for later. I was using Google to look at darter pictures and I see most of the photos have the very same pose as mine did(much sharper of course) but it seems that is their "thing" so when it cools down a bit (today is one of those days that you can´t even think of going out darter chasing) I will go back to the place where I saw these and I have a feeling they will be back there doing whatever they do.
This light is very hard to describe but you know what I mean, it almost hurts the eyes even in the shade.
Gaucho 16 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2010 4:57PM
Know exactly what you mean Smile I believe this is a red veined darter. You'll see one or two on my pf (some time back). They've just started to get active in the last couple of weeks down here. They sit on these "posts" waiting for something nice and juicy to fly by.
macdaniel Plus
12 16 3 Netherlands
14 Aug 2010 8:02PM
like this image and as said especially for the watercolour suggestion; seen in that light, it is sharp enough; and indeed monopods and tripods are cumbersome tools in macrophotographing those little beasties that tend to fly away on approaching; as said, the dragonfly can be easy as it sometimes stays in place until you try to kiss it. I have also noticed with the damselflies that they sometimes tend to persistently return to the spot they just sat on. In such a situation a tripod can be ideal to take a pinsharp image of them > so, this one well done, like it and could be a sort of raw material for a print.
14 Aug 2010 8:06PM
I saw a lot of those little darters this morning and definitely know why they are called that. I had the same trouble as before, it is the light (not the photographer of course LOL).
I had the chance of a lovely shot head on and was really pleased until I got it onto the computer. One thing I have learnt, I now know where they hang out now.
Thank you for your comments.

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