Saturday, July 12, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Enter the Dragonfly II: Fists of Fury.

Funny thing.

Yesterday, when I was outside snapping pictures of the latest dragonfly to visit me (I call this one "Hasselhoff"), my reason for being out in the muggy, mosquito-infested, summer swamp that is July in Wisconsin, was actually to just try and get a feel for this old, but wickedly brilliant, macro lens I got not too long ago. But, this dude showed up, landed on a stick, and he was kind enough to pose for me. When I got too close, he'd fly off, but in a few seconds, he was back on the stick.

So, clearly, when doing macro shots of insects, it helps that they're attention whores.

Anyway, due to my style of shooting, not all of the pictures were all that great. In fact, I'd say 90% of the roughly sixty shots I took of this little dude were throw away shots (okay... 98%!). But, several turned out nice and sharp.

However, as I was getting set to toss this one into the trash, it struck my eye. I think it's kind of cool, and I hope you do too.


I'm not really sure why I like it. The blurry leg hanging down is kind of cool. You can see the little claw-like hairs sticking out on his arms and legs, but I think what caught me was the tiny, in focus part of the wing. It's got a cool sort of church-window look to it. Plus, the light is absolutely perfect.

Now, a little more on my style of macro bug photography:

First, one I've got my shutter and aperture all sussed out to the point where I'm happy that things are not too dark or bright, I set the focus to its closest point, and, since I keep my camera set for continuous shooting at about 2.5 or 3 frames per second, I just hold down the shutter button and start taking pictures as I move the camera.

I've got a pretty good idea where the focus point is, so I kind of wobble in and out around that point.

Obviously, it's not a very efficient form of shooting, but this isn't film, and deleting the twenty or thirty (FINE! fifty or sixty) bad shots is easy.

Now, for you point and shooters out there, it can be a little easier for you. Just set your camera to macro mode and get in there and take the shot. The thing is, your head might get in the way, and it might be seriously awkward leaning in.

To fix this, while your camera is in macro mode, zoom the lens all the way to its maximum, and then hold your hand in front of the lens to see how close it can be in order to be in focus. Then, stop looking through the evil view finder and look at that relationship between your hand and lens to get a good idea of the distance (it's usually an inch or two).

Got it?


Now you've got a pretty decent idea of what your camera's minimum focusing distance actually looks like. So, now, when you are walking down the street with your camera in your pocket and you stumble upon a bug, you can get a bit of a jump on him by putting your camera in the same position without having to use the viewfinder.

It's easier and a little nicer than knocking him on his head to keep him steady. Besides, it's best to save the blunt-force trauma technique for pictures of kids, grandparents and some pets.

I kid... I kid...

The pro's use Roofies, I think.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 7/12/2008 02:26:00 PM


  1. I love the coloring of this, but it's more blurry than not as I look at it (I even embigginated it). Can't see the little hairs on his legs....

    Thanks for the tip about point-and-shoot cameras (which I have) and taking macro shots. I've slowly learned to see just how close I can get, and many times it's nothing more than trial and error. I also appreciated your numbers on how many pictures you take versus how many are actually decent. Nice to know I'm not the only one who takes plenty of crummy ones!


  2. The little mite looks like he's just about to take a dump!
    Gaz ;-)

  3. Now this is cool! Your last picture looked like a scene from the movie "Fly" gone horribly wrong. I love seeing the matrix of the wings on the dragon fly. Not so much the head shots. (Hugs)Indigo