Any + Repost

Any feedback gratefully received, technical or artistic!

Camera: Nikon D850. f/22 1/90sec. ISO1600. Tamron 90mm Macro lens. Yongnuo 560IV flash with diffuser

I have just bought this wonderful Tamron lens! I am currently experimenting with using smaller apertures than conventionally acceptable, because in the field (as opposed to in a controlled environment with a still object and the ability to use focus rail, etc.) it gives a lot more depth of field. My view so far is that any additional “softness” is insignificant in comparison with the additional depth of field offered (but of course this depends on the nature of the actual image). I am interested in anyone else’s views on this. This image was taken at f22. I used an on-camera flash with diffuser. For some reason the metadata indicates that the flash did not fire, but it did fire! One thing I am looking for is a balance between too much and not enough flash - so, for example, if I had used a more powerful flash setting and reduced the ISO, there would have been enough light on average, but I am finding the more natural light there is, supplemented by diffused flash, often gives a more natural result; it is always a question of playing one thing off against another.

Until last month, I had just the Opteka extreme wide angle lens for macro (the same lens pretty much as the Laowa), which gets fascinating angles and perspectives, but means one has to be extremely close to the subject. I love this lens, but having the Tamron 90mm is a revelation!


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Phillip, this is an outstanding photo of what looks to be a Robber Fly. I think you did a fine job with the mix of flash and natural light to make this look natural. If I did anything on the lighting, it would be on the tops of the leaves, to tone down the lighting on them, but even that isn’t a game changer to me. There is a couple of distractions in the left upper and left lower corners and left side that wants to draw the eye. You might could calm them down with a light vignette. I like the square composition. Great DOF. F22 when working closely in macro is almost a necessity to get enough in focus. Depending on how far away the background is, will determine how much it is out of focus. As for working toward getting as much natural looking light, I find keeping the shutter speed down to 1/90 or less (if the subject isn’t moving fast) helps with that (with flash, the shutter speed doesn’t affect the exposure, just f-stop, and closeness of the flash to the subject). The longer shutter speed allows the natural light a chance to be a part of the image. I hope that helps.

Congratulations on your new lens. I am so looking forward to more of your images with it. It is fun and challenging with new equipment. This is certainly a great image to be taken with a lens you aren’t familiar with.

Philip: Really good catch on this guy with excellent focus on the eye and a very nice BG. I personally think the “softness” caused by diffraction at small apertures is way overblown and those who pontificate about it are patronizing at best and boors at worst. I have 100mm and 200mm macro lenses and routinely shoot at f22 with either and occasionally f32 with the 200mm. IF there is any softness sharpening software can make it go away easily. Great to have you aboard the Macro group and NPN. Looking forward to more of your work.>=))>
PS: Your lighting looks very natural. I’m not sure I would have noticed the flash effect if you hadn’t mentioned its use and even then its very unobtrusive.

Phillip, the “old” Tamron 90 was famous for it’s image quality and I’m sure the new version is even better. This is a fine look at this robber fly, with outstanding details in the eyes and head. I agree with Bill that it’s largely folklore when it comes to avoiding small apertures in macro. I’ve tested my Canon 180 and even looking at 1:1 on a 27" monitor, I can’t see any extra softness at apertures below f/22. There’s a hint at f/22 with a bit more at f/25 and f/32. Those touches of softness would only be noticed if you made a very large print and stood up close to view it.

Thanks very much, Shirley, for taking the time with this. I agree with the distractions in the upper left and think I can get rid of enough to “declutter” without anaesthetising through over-simplification! To my shame I hadn’t even noticed the little thing in the bottom left which definitely needs to go! In fact, I already put a vignette in, but I always want these to be minimal so that people don’t see the vignette, but just enough to draw one into the picture, but perhaps I should have done more… Thanks for the advice on flash/shutter speed: this is something I am aware of but need more familiarity with. I am also glad about the seeming concensus (see other posts) regarding small aperture: I have made some images with f numbers up in the 40s and 50s and am still concluding that where seeing the whole insect/flower etc. in focus is a higher priority than the tiny amount of softness that might come with that. Best wishes, Philip

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Thanks very much, Bill. It’s all a learning experience! One of the big things for me with my adventure into macro photography is that it has made me aware of a whole branch of nature which I hadn’t really been aware of. I’ve been made aware of different kinds of bee, spider, fly and son on that I hadn’t thought of before (such as the info from Shirley and Mark that this image is a robber fly). I’m not quite at the spot where I am getting out my notepad and ticking off all the subspecies like a trainspotter, but getting that way! But I am noticing much more, and that is a lot of the pleasure of the activity.

Thanks, Mark. Actually, this robber fly was on a plant which was occupied by a crab spider (nicknamed white death spider). This spider kills bees, wasps, flies and other bugs by injecting them with venom. The plant in question contained several scarcely moving bugs, in varying degrees of paralysis, including this robber fly, as well as plenty of dead ones, many hung up on the web like a washing line. It waits in the middle of a hogweed flower, very difficult to spot, and strikes the unsuspecting prey. I wondered how the tiny spider could eat all it had acquired! Macabre!

I’ve got rid of some edge clutter - I think it looks better in general. Thanks!

I think that improved too. I still find the tip of the leaf coming in from the left catching my eye. That is a good way to work with vignetting. I need to keep that in mind, as I have a tendency to over do it.

I added Repost to your title so others will know that you made a change and posted it.

I like the re-post better. Nice details on eyes and head. I am not certain about the leaf on the top - is it distracting or a compositional element that frames the insect?

Thank you, Shirley.



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Hi, Ravi, it is supposed to be part of the composition, but the fact you are asking might suggest that it doesn’t work. Shirley also mentioned the little bit of leaf on the left. Looking on a big screen I really like it (but was asking myself whether to keep it), but now, looking at it on my phone, it does seem like a little annoyance. Who knows!!! Thanks, Ravi.