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Ladybug on my Oregano

By BrenLee  
This was taken in my garden before 10:00a.m. I was playing with manual settings on my camera and don't really remember the exact settings. Is this a good photo or are there ways to improve it?

Tags: Flowers and plants Wildlife and nature


Check my mod......the ladybug is the subject......let go of much of what is there.

Coast 12 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 8:41AM
Hi Brenda and welcome to EPZ and the Critique Gallery.

I see that this is your first upload to the site and the gallery here. I hope you will enjoy it and find it a good place to learn. We try to give advice that will help people to improve their photography both the taking and the editing of images.

Remember that the more information you give us as regards your photographic aims and intentions, the better. It also helps us if you respond to critique and indicate which ideas you find helpful. That means we can tailor advice according to your needs.

You have captured what we call in the UK a Ladybird. I don't know why we reference it as a bird versus a bug but the name is believed to come from the middle ages and mediaeval times. Farmers that were blighted with pests ruining their crops prayed to the Virgin Mary for help and allegedly a swarm of these little bugs came and cleared up the pests that damaged the crops. The name then was given as Lady Beetle, Lady Bug or Lady Bird depending on local adoption in honour of "Our Lady, the Virgin Mary".

Peter points out the main challenge for you here in that the framing is too loose. The Ladybird being your subject is very small in the frame. It is good to include some environment but a closer crop would make for a better picture. I'm not familiar with your lens but most kit zooms do have some sort of macro function that allows you to get reasonably close. I am not sure if you could have got closer in this instance but that is what is needed. A dedicated macro lens would be a useful purchase if this is the type of photography you like doing.

You have selected a fast shutter speed which is a considered choice as unless you are on a tripod the magnification at these close quarters also magnifies any movement and even the pressing of the shutter can cause movement blur. As well as the slight natural rocking of the body can make focussing a skill. One style is to find focus and then deliberately rock slowly and mildly back and forth to control your own body movement and fire the shutter as you time the point of focus. Personally I find it easier to use a monopod or tripod for macro work and would recommend it.

The lighting is quite bright and hash yet gives enough detail without any deep shadows coming off the Ladybird directly. Another useful tip is to carry small reflectors with you that allow you to shield, shape and reflect the light where you want it in scenarios such as this. Useful in flower photography too.

Overall this is a decent capture of the little colourful bug. Tighter framing and sharpness would be the one to work on.

I hope that helps.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.4k 2293 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 1:22PM
Hi Brenda, you've received good advice above, and Peter's Modification points the way forward with this one. I hope you have found it - you need to click on the Modifications button below your upload and then on the thumbnail to view it.

A warm welcome from me to, to the site and the Critique Gallery.

The only thing that I would add to the above is this: Don't regard such an opportunity as just a chance to get a nice sharp close-up - the important thing is to make a picture out of that. And that means composition, placement. Look closely at all the other things that are appearing in the frame, decide what you want to include, what you want to exclude, and how they will work together. The ladybird is sitting on a particularly attractive arrangement of leaves, I would like to see that top leaf included to complete the pattern. There are various ways that you can place a subject in the frame - centrally, off-centre towards one side or the other, or perhaps move it towards one corner of a 3x2 or square. Don't forget portrait - vertical - format. Those all have their different merits. But near the middle of the top edge of the frame doesn't work!

I shall have a play with this to demonstrate some ideas that you could bear in mind when you next get out with the camera. So a few more Modifications will appear in a little while!

I hope that you will enjoy it here, the site is a great place to share and learn. As Paul says, the more you tell us about your aims and interests the better.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.4k 2293 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 1:34PM
I've uploaded four Modifications - two square crops with vertically flipped alternatives. With this sort of image, it can be viewed in any orientation! The frames were needed to bring the files up to the minimum size for uploading but I think they work quite well.

I suggest that you have a look at the various placement possibilities, and try them out next time you are taking pictures. It's a good idea to allow your subject space to move into, and an definite direction of travel.
paulbroad 13 131 1290 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 6:27PM
Good try. The bottom line is that a ladybird is very small, and needs to be recorded rather larger than this, usually, to create a strong image. You are not equipped to do that. You can, and have attempted a composition to allow for this and that is a good way round the problem.

Better if tge ladybird were nearer the top left hand third. Divide the image space with tw equally spCed verticals and two horizontals. Where these libes intersect are know as the thirds are are very stron compositional points to place the main subject.

Macro, recording very small objects, is a technique in it's own right and quite specialist. There is a need for special equipment.

Fefe Plus
9 54 34 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 8:47PM
Hello, I have done a mod for you too. As the others have said, the ladybird is your subject and I think its a bit lost in all that background. Its well focused and the exposure is good.
I did a crop on the image, rotating it at the same time to make its position better in the frame. I did slightly adjust the exposure in all colour channels. Added a bit of cyan and magenta and black to the reds to give more colour and contrast to the ladybird. I gave it a small smart sharpen. Hope you like itSmile
BrenLee 6 1 United States
6 May 2014 10:17PM
Thank you all so much! My goal with my photography right now is just to learn as much as I can about the subject as a whole. I'll take all the information I can get. On a smaller scale, I've been learning how to shoot RAW and use AV and TV instead of the program mode. It's all new territory for me. I've loved taking pictures my whole life, but have been a totally instinctual photographer - no technical training at all.

I understand the "law of thirds", but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It seems that it leaves a lot of empty space in the photo. I do a lot of scrapbooking in which I usually crop my pictures down to just what I need to tell the story. Empty space is not something I use. My eye is usually drawn to the center. Why is it good to move the subject out of the center?

Diane, I really like your modification. It looks more like she's going somewhere and its sharp.

Thank you all again so much for your input. I really appreciate it and value the information.

Brenda Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.4k 2293 United Kingdom
6 May 2014 10:35PM
You've raised a lot of questions. It all comes down ultimately to why we take pictures - as a factual record, as a reminder of feelings and experience, or as a means of sharing that with others. If you want to share anything with others, people viewing the image as a 2-dimensional rectangle on a flat screen, you need to find a way to involve them, draw them in. That's what composition is about. Giving the viewer access rather than keeping them strictly outside the frame.

The rule of thirds is something to be aware of - it's not something that I get obsessive over, like a lot of other rules though it provides a means to creating a satisfying image. Understand the rules, then find ways to break them creatively.

Central placement is factual, static. It can give importance, dignity and presence to a subject (Refugee girl, next door to this in the Critique Gallery, is a classic example). Or it can just look pedestrian and boring. Fine for a textbook identification illustration but not necessarily something to enjoy.

Placing a subject off-centre suggests that we are chancing on it, discovering it. It can also give the feeling that the subject can move forward into the rest of the frame. You say that your eye is usually drawn to the centre of the frame - that's a good point. So you go there immediately, and when you have absorbed that central point you switch off. Composition for me is about creating a slower, less direct route for the eye, making it explore, detaining the viewer's attention for longer.

banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4177 Canada
6 May 2014 11:41PM
Link for the rule of thirds:

In general, but no always as a strict rule, a well composed image based on it will look better and more attractive than the same image that ignores it. Its a guide and worth knowing and understanding, before ignoring. Ignore it for a reason, not for the lack of knowledge.

Painters used it for many years before photographers, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you will see it used in cinematography too.

A very close up shot of an insect, though filling the entire frame, can still adhere to the thirds guide by having an eye placed at an intersection for example, so dont think it applies only to large frames; its important in portrait shots too, eye placement for example.

Empty space can be a very strong element in a shot when used appropriately. Imagine portraying loneliness or isolation; Placing say a small child so she/he takes up a position in one corner of a black space can be a very powerful reinforcement of loneliness.

Bottom line, understand, then use your own common sense. Central compositions can also work well, especially square formats, and especially ones of specimen flowers, as an example; there is nowhere for the eye to roam. Part of the enjoyment in well composed, non square images is exactly the fact of the eys being led, roaming through the shot and landing on a focal point, the one the photographer meant to be seen. That why we have leading lines for example in a landscape shot, and imagine one with a winding patch leading to a cottage in a forest, - will works well using thirds.

Back to this, Ladybug as we call it here.

Your camera and lens do not have any macro options. The closest distance that you can focus with that lens is 10 inches, so using 55mm 10 inches away is as big as that insect will get, which is quite small. A macro lens is one that will focus when VERY close, - less that an inch is not unusual, and they are 60mm and up, so you will get a much larger insect as a result. Filling the frame in fact.

It doesnt appear to me that the lens did in fact focus on the ladybug, but focused on the leaves just above it, - you may notice they are very sharp. A key technique in getting better shots, macro and otherwise, is to use ONE focus point, and not the default multiple focus points (the red boxes); select one, and place that one on the subject and focus, and click.
With this lens, you couldnt go any closer, so the frame is what it is. If you have other lenses, some people will use a long focal length, 200mm as an example, and zoom in from a distance to get close up shots. But this little guy may be too small for that approach.

Enjoy the site, I think you will,


BrenLee 6 1 United States
7 May 2014 4:15PM
What you both say, Moira and Willie, makes sense. I like the idea of drawing the viewer in for longer than it takes to just focus on the center. I don't have any other lenses yet, Willie. I'm working on that. I've just recently learned that it's the lens and not the camera itself that controls the shot. Apparently, just because my camera has a macro mode, doesn't mean that I can do that if I don't have a lens that can do it. I have A LOT to learn. Blush

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