MacroSpheres Musings:

It's Bee(n) A Long Time

And it's good to be back. Last year my macro pursuit took a step back. I lost all my gear when my house flooded due to Hurricane Harvey.

I was really leaning towards a 5D4 setup but diffenciences in sensor technology, the lack of of a tilting LCD, the native in camera stacking functions and the silent shutter of the D850 nudged me towards Nikon. I've been fiddling with the camera for a few months now and come to the point I would like to share an image.

Shot setup - early morning on Buffalo Bayou. The bees, leaf cutters, seem much more abundant to me post Harvey versus pre. Not sure why, but I now commonly find large groups camped out on vegetation. Pre Harvey, I was lucky to stumble across one or two in the same area.

4 sleeping-bees on twig - d850 - sigma 150 - bw08.jpg

Nikon D850 with Sigma 150mm Macro and tripod rig. 45 image field stack. Initial RAW processing done in DXO PhotoLab, stacking done in Zerene, and touch up in PhotoShop.

Goodbye Google+ / Hello Sleeping Beauty

For the past 4 years I have been using my Google + account as a macro photography blog. With Google announcing the discontinuation of the platform in August of 2019 I will start directing my efforts to this site. I will still post to Google but initial content will be done here. I will also be migrating posts from my G+ account here to provide them a more permanent home. Let’s get the ball rolling with a post from August 05, 2015:

I was at the community garden on Saturday. I like to go there when I expect it to be blistering hot. Plenty of spots to park one’s butt in the shade should the need arise. There is a diversity of beds available. Ranging from heavily shaded areas with rich greens and dark purples. The shaded areas spills into a water garden complete with lilies and other flowering aquatic plants. Dragonflies and damsels populate the sparse reeds while minnows and wild sailfin mollies swim below. The gardens round into an open area filled with blooms, shrubs, and trees that thrive in the Texas sun. Just a bit yonder there are vegetable gardens with standard garden fare, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, hot peppers and the like. At the far end of the gardens are small groves of fruit and nut trees  interspersed between grape trellises. It’s a great place to photograph insects and small critters. Throughout the morning, a master gardener or two will stop by and chat me up. Surrounding the garden is a cow pasture and before I leave I always make it a point to walk the cattle fence. Interesting things happen on the steel cable and at the very least dragonflies perch on it so I practice approaching and photographing them. I was finished walking the fence and about to head to the house but decided to sit in the shade garden, drink some water, and cool off. Eyes scanning the cables for critters, I noticed atop the ~6 foot fence pole a brown blob. The more I focused in, the more I became convinced it was a frog. Indeed it was a frog sound asleep atop the pole. It was too high for me to shoot from the ground so I stacked two 6” high pavers from the garden edge into a makeshift foot stool. Here’s a picture of the little character, no more than 1.5” (40mm long), nestled high above.

frog on pole  -  atmse -02 (1).jpg

Image specs: Single Shot Handheld - Canon 5D-III, Sigma 105mm with 72mm of Extension Tubes @ ~1:2, - f/16 - SS 1/80 - ISO100 - 430EX with DIY Diffuser (Modified Circular Cross Stitch Frame with Rag Velum)  - compositional  crop.

Sheild Bug - Nymphs to Adults?

When I first started shooting macro, I stumbled across a batch of true bug nymphs. At the time I had no idea what they were. I thought for sure it was a beetle as I had never seen one before. Researching the insect I discovered it was in fact a true bug nymph, not a beetle. No one seemed to know what true bug it was. I was told the way to find out for sure was to raise the bug to adulthood. Well I can barely take care of myself let alone a brood of bugs so the my question remained unanswered. I ran across a nymph again this past Saturday. It had been a few years since I last saw one. As I looked in the viewfinder I noticed the pits in the exoskeleton, a detail I had forgotten. The shape of the head looked familiar too. The more I observed the bug and subsequently this photo, the more I'm convinced this is a shield bug nymph. 

Image specs: Sony A7 w Fotodiox Pro Fusion Adapter, 60mm EF-S w/72mm tubes @ ~3:1, f/11, SS 1/160, ISO 200, Nissin i40 with DIY Diffuser. 

A plant or two away from the nymph above was another. I think this is also a shield bug instar just further along in the development chain. This one is taking on more familiar characteristics. Head shape and eye placement, and the pitting of the exoskeleton. I actually find this nymph more attractive than adult shield bugs which are handsome as well. 

Image specs: Sony A7 w Fotodiox Pro Fusion Adapter, 60mm EF-S w/72mm tubes @ ~3:1, f/11, SS 1/160, ISO 200, Nissin i40 with DIY Diffuser. 

I believe the adult in this image is of the same ilk as the nymphs, but who knows? The longer I observe them in the field the more I learn. For the longest time I thought shield bugs were herbivorous as I had only seen them feeding off plants. Turns out the brown ones like caterpillar juice too. I found this feeding adult in close proximity to the two nymphs. 

Image specs: Sony A7 w Fotodiox Pro Fusion Adapter, 60mm EF-S w/72mm tubes @ ~3:1, f/11, SS 1/200, ISO 320, Nissin i40 with DIY Diffuser.