Fossil Rim Field Trip

Looking into my eyes

Wow what a great day and fun time. 11 of our members were able to attend and enjoy great photo opportunities.
The photo tour is the way to go, they take you where you want to go, they stop for as long as you want to stop, the give you information and free animal food if you want it.
We went to the 3 – 7 pm tour which allowed us to see a few animals most people don’t get to see because they are our later. There is an overnight tour you can do and stay on the property, again you may see some animals others don’t get to.

Chris feed lots of animals


A Poor Man’s Guide to Macro Madness

This is a summary of a presentation I made at the Trinity Arts Photo Club meeting in January 2011 about my macro photography.  It is called the “poor man’s” guide as I do not have the high dollar macro lenses that could be used to make my life easier in this pursuit.  I generally have opted for the lower priced option of extension tubes coupled with a telephoto lens to get my macro shots, although I do have an old used manual 105mm macro lens that I use occasionally. 

But in the interest of overall disclosure, I am going to talk about all the options available in the summary below.

Tools of the Trade

  • Camera (SLR or Compact Camera)
  • Macro Lens or

–      Telephoto Lens + Extension Tubes or

–      Close-up  filters that fit on front of a lens

  • Off Camera Flash
  • Monopod or
  • Tripod if taking photos of subjects that do not move

One of the best practitioners of macro photography I have seen is a gentleman who uses a compact camera coupled with close-up filters in his photography.  So you do not necessarily need the highest dollar equipment to get good results.

Extension tubes fit between the camera and your lens and generally come in a set of three different sizes.  My extension tubes are made by Kenko and come in 12mm, 20mm and 36mm sizes.  You can use one or all to get a different close up effect.  The tubes contain no optical elements; their sole purpose is to move the lens farther from the image plane. The farther away the lens is, the closer the focus, the greater the magnification.  That is mumbo jumbo for the tubes make a normal lens into a poor man’s macro lens.

I like shooting insects, so for me, the monopod is a better option than a tripod.  Insects generally are moving, so a tripod does not give a photographer the flexibility to “follow” the insect as you try to get a shot.  The monopod helps with camera stability compared to taking completely hand held shots, so I use one when I can.

Other considerations for macro photography include the following:

  • Lighting

–      To use flash or not to use flash, that is the question

  • Shutter speed (faster is better, especially for insects)
  • Depth of Field

–      Almost always narrow on macro shots

  • Motion…or lack thereof               

–      What if your subject is moving?

I always have a flash available when I am taking macro shots.  I do not always use it if the natural light is strong enough, but if it is not, it makes the difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot.  I have a Nikon SB-800 flash that I use either on the hot shoe of the camera of off the camera in slave mode letting the camera trigger the flash.  This allows for more creative lighting options.  There are special macro flash units that you can buy, but like with the macro lenses; they would make the job easier, but at a cost.

Shutter speed for capturing shots of moving insects generally has to be 1/250 sec or higher in my experience.  For flowers and non moving subjects, the speed can be lower.

The depth of field on these shots is generally very narrow, so when you focus, it is imperitive that your focus point is on the key item in your photo, the eye of an insect or lizard for example.  Sometimes, it takes several attempts to get that sharp focus, especially for moving insects or if the breeze is blowing.

The important thing is that if you have an interest in macro photography and do not have a macro lens, try the extension tubes or close up filters first (especially if on a budget) and see if you enjoy the challenge.  If you really get into it, you can decide later whether to invest the big bucks in dedicated macro lenses or macro flash units.  Have fun!



July’s competition is Pan It. Well that frightens me a little so I thought I’d do some checking on the technique. You may have a clear understanding of what it looks like and how to do it, but in case you don’t I’ll share a little info I found. Panning- moving with a specific object to keep it mostly in focus and everything else around it blurred. Some possible subject: a dog or person running, a skateboarder, trees(you would move not them – unless you are in a vehicle and not driving), one specific vehicle on a highway or racetrack, a motorcycle or bicycle rider. Look for an object with a somewhat straight trajectory -easier motion for you to follow.
You will will a slower shutter speed, maybe begin w 1/30, then move it depending on the light and speed of your object.
Begin as the object approaches you, if needed put your camera on a tripod ready to swivel.
Try to be parallel to the path.
Once you press the shutter as gently as possible, continue to pan with the object for a few seconds.

I hope everyone is looking for geometric shapes in nature and planning an awesome shot between sunset and sunrise. It is a great time of the year to be outside, except for allergies.

Look online for some tips from professionals and start practicing, I know I will.

Dallas Arboretum Field Trip

On Saturday, March 12, a group of club members decended on the Dallas Arboretum (along with hundreds of princesses and knights who were there for a Fairytale Castle Party).  Since we were in the middle of Dallas Blooms, the crowds were large, but there was still plenty of room to take photos.  The most difficult thing for photography was the wind which was blowing hard all morning.  I believe that there were many blurry flower photos taken  during the day.

In addition to TAPC club members taking photos, there were numerous professional wedding photographers and many others that looked as if they were taking senior photos.

The arboretum provides a unique opportunity to take photos of many flowers in a landscape type format down to one flower  or parts of a flower in macro format.  Tulips were everywhere and in every color combination possible.  Many other flowers complemented the tupips in the same beds.  If you have not been to the arboretum to take photos in the spring, you owe it to yourself to do so.  I am sure the weekdays are less crowded, so if you do not like crowds, that is the time to go.

Mark Lenz