Spring shooting means BUGS

by | 2018-03-18 1:44am Asia/Tokyo

Spring shooting means BUGS

2018-03-18 1:44am Asia/Tokyo

Throughout the winter months, the mere thought of going out and taking pictures turned my fingers into popsicles. I did go out a couple of times, but all I found was brown, dead grass and leafless trees. Is it possible to take interesting landscape photos in a brown, gloomy background? Maybe, but I tried and failed. I’ll try again next year.

However, winter is over. Time to take off my comfy Heattec tights, put on my bright orange t-shirt, and take a walk outside! Spring is here, and the colors of spring in Japan are pink and white.

Recently, I’ve realized that my girlfriend’s wide-angle photos are much better than mine. Her framing and composition is much better. Usually, I like to get close-ups of my subjects, and I enjoy the thinner area of focus shots that I get with my Olympus 40-150mm 2.8, so I’ve enjoyed the narrower angle of view for that last couple of years. But, after I realized my weakness with wide angles, I decided to limit myself as much as it made sense.

Some time ago, my girlfriend and I went to visit her grandma in Kashima. On the way, we saw some cherry blossoms blooming near Yutoku Inari shrine, so we decided to stop and take some pictures. That’s when I took out my Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 and took the two shots above and to the right.

Usually I like to get close-ups, to see what you won’t usually see in-person. My subjects are usually small, like bugs, so I like to get up-close and personal with them.

But, while taking the photos of cherry and plum blossoms with my girlfriend, we found some bees at work, so I got a chance to try taking wide shots of them, too. In particular, there was one bee that seemed to be caught on the stamen of a cherry blossom. Usually bees are busy buzzing around, but thanks to this little guy’s bad luck, I could get just a few centimeters away.

The nice thing about this picture is that we do get a close-up of the bee—with some details like the pollen in its hair and the little balls of pollen on its legs—but we also get to see the little guy’s workplace environment, too.

With a wide-angle shot, we get another perk: more focus. Pictures taken zoomed in have a more narrow depth-of-field, meaning that less of the photo will be in focus. That’s useful for a variety of applications, but in the case of small subjects, I usually get close. As with zooming in, the closer your focal point is, the shallower your depth-of-field will be. This means photos taken closer to your subject will have less in focus.

Sometimes you want that effect, but I’ve found that I often want more in focus, not less. Especially when I’m zoomed in and close to a subject, I need to be careful to compensate in order to get more in focus. For example, In the first praying mantis photo above, you can see the depth-of-field is quite shallow. Since I was close to it, I needed to choose a side-angle in order to get more of its body in focus. In the head-on photo of another mantis, I was not careful enough and focused a bit in front of it (it was running away, so I quickly dove in front of it to take the photo without checking my settings). However, with the last mantis, less in-focus makes it’s head pop out and draw your attention.

All of those mantis photos were taken zoomed in to 40mm.

However, the bee photo was taken at 12mm, much much wider. At wider angles of vision, more of the photo will be in focus. That means that I can get close and still have a deeper depth-of-field. While just the head of that last mantis is in focus, the whole body of the bee, as well as the flower it’s on, are in focus.

When it comes to wide angle photos, since the purpose is to show more context, it’s important to get more of the photo in focus. Thus, I also adjusted camera settings to get more in focus.

I’m looking foward to more bug photography this spring!