I went to the lake on the way home to shoot a Violet Darter from life size to five times life size. I knew they would be feeding, and even though there was some wind I figured I could catch at least one of them feeding from a metal poll (the polls keep people from parking along one section of a fence). There were several feeding from plants, but I passed them up knowing that I wouldn't get a decent shot.
All Canon gear: Xti (manual mode F8 to F14 depending on the magnification, 1/200, ISO 100) + MPE-65mm macro lens. MT-24EX with home made diffusers.
The light was brutal (high noon) so I moved to the side that the sun was hitting because the flash duration would be shorter than shooting against the sun and I'd get better color. Life size at F14:
This next shot is at 2x and F11, and it's actually where I started. Mark Plonsky (one of my mentors) once told me that his best images were taken between 1.5x and 3.5x, and I've noticed the same thing with my own work. So I always start out shooting at least twice life size.
2.5x (also F11) just because it's about the most I can magnify the critter's head before I have to decide what to cut out of the frame.
3x at F11 and I'm having to look for angles that will let me get the most of what little depth of field I have left -and at the same time try to get as much of the dragon in the frame as possible.
4x and 5x and I'm again looking for those "magic angles" that will let me get the most out of the plane of sharp focus. Since the critter is on a metal poll about 20cm high I was able to put my right knee on ground and place my left elbow on my left upraised knee for support. I use a set of knee pads designed for roller blading to keep from ruining my clothes and take some of the strain off a body that has 42 years of mileage on it
There is a better angle for this 4x shot -a little higher than I'm positioned here. But the critter didn't like me being directly overhead, so I took what he would give me...
I took about a dozen shots at 5x and I'm happy with this one. Out of those twelve I kept three, but this is the best of the bunch.
Several times he left his perch to chase off a competitor, grab some lunch, or moved because I cast a shadow on him. Every time he left I'd back off a few steps, let him land, and then move back in. This series of images anyone
could take -I'm not special. The moral of the story is that if you know the habits of the critters that you shoot it's relatively easy to walk away with some good photos. I spent all of 20 minutes shooting this guy...