Leaf Drops

For no other reason than to appreciate the early Spring rain, and imagine each drop as a poetic gem from heaven do I post these images. Ya right! Really is was for practice, but still we should…

Praise the rain in Spring. Summer may be brutally hot and dry again this year. A few praises passed on may be a good idea anyway.

It has not been raining much this Spring. Last year, at this time, we got too much rain, only to leave us later in Summer with no rain for over a month. Having too much rain did help through the dry period, not like what other Southern areas experienced, yet it was a hardship for many shallow rooted plants.

But the way the weather appears to be changing, we are in for some crazy weather patterns this year. April 1 was our last rain and the day of the images shown here. There was not rain much before that either. But no need to dwell on the dry start to Spring because what will be, will be.

So, let’s change gears… and here is how I took the shot above, and one directly below.

They were taken with a macro lens, f2.8 (Nikon Micro 60mm 1:2.8 G) at 6 inches away from the big water drop. This image was four individual images to start and they were focus stacked. Focus stacking is an imaging technique where a set of images are shot at different focal distance to be stacked one on top of another in post processing, then blended in Photoshop to result in a selectively focused macro image. More than the narrow area of focus can be combined in this manner.

This, and the one below, were my first attempts at the technique, and I found it a very hard thing to do well. I plan to try this on bugs on a very calm day, if they stay still that is, since it must be done using a tripod for successful completion of the image match up. For those of you interested in this technique, you can go here. I have been using a similar technique in Photoshop previously, but not in the same way. It is my first attempt at using the camera in this manner.

And today’s post at Advanced Photography just came in on photographing water. This is exactly how I wanted to capture the shots. I send you there to be amazed and learn too. I should have done my exercise after seeing this post.

All the other images of the daffodil leaves were taken with a 18-135mm lens with an aperture set at f4 to blur the background. They are single images, and the lens is easier to use when hand holding the camera.

Soft and Blurry

I did take all these photos more than a week ago before I saw the video from The Grid on my last post.  So much of what I learned from the Photoshop guys has been filed for future sessions. I purposefully left out a photo of a flower before I posted though! But, the guys are not going to get me to cease posting flowers. Many of the images, I followed Rule of Thirds, at least the best I could on a macro shot. I filled the frame too is some cases. Some rules just happen by habit, others need to be thought about first. Just like most things in life I guess.

The Japanese Maple leaves were taken with the 60mm macro lens as well, which got wet by the way. I have to watch that because I had my D80 camera go in for repair because it locked up when being exposed to moisture. I did not give it sufficient time to acclimate to humid conditions, my bad.

The camera I was using (above) in all these images was the D7000. It is much faster than the D80, plus it has many other juicy goodies.

I really should concentrate on getting a point of interest in each image, like a reflection in the rain drops (I have no reflection to speak of, just another leaf not well defined below). The images are a bit boring, but I did want to start using this lens for macros and not rely on a zoom lens.  So, it was all about learning. It will take practice and better light to make this type of image below. I just included it so you could see what kind of shot I want to get.

The image above should have no grain. The ISO was 4000 (the problem) to get a 1/250 shutter speed at f4, still not high enough to freeze action adequately, but bright enough to get a photo. You can have no camera movement and need accurate focus. I used a wireless remote shutter release so the blur is all me on focusing.

In the maple images, the wind was blowing strong and I had to wait between gusts. The sun was breaking in and out too. The camera was set to 1/800, f2.8, ISO 640.

I added the image below after getting the comment on using the High Pass filter in Photoshop. High Pass is a very useful filter for increasing clarity in an image by adding additional contrast and sharpening to edges found in the image.  But it should be used only on images needing the filter. So to show you what it does to the image above, I ran it on a duplicate of the original and then changed to overlay. But realize, I could mask the image also. What it did was over sharpen the image even though I had it set to only 5px. Highlights got blown out even further than was found in the original. I tried to place the image in the comment rather than edit the post, but WP does not allow this and strips the code. Click to see the two images and see why the filter does not enhance this image below.

I really hope this year brings us rain. We went most of the winter without snow. The garden plants are already suffering a bit. Photos are pretty after a rain and snow, but the weather has not been cooperating for my photo shoots. As much as it is improbable, travel should be in the cards to locations of interest.

Thanks for bearing with me on going outside my comfort zone here. Getting better pictures means learning to use my equipment. So that is my new goal, practice until I can get it right. Feel free to chime in on what can be done to better use this lens too, or even to make the images here better. Chances are I know the failings, but your advice is always welcome.

I want to thank Holley, from Roses and Other Gardening Joys for selecting GWGT for the Sunshine Award. It such an honor and I am quite appreciative. Holley’s blog is one I visit often and she is a whiz with Roses. Go and see!

And, the next post is a Big Thank You to another blogger for a wonderful and beautiful gift I received in the mail today. I will save it for next time, because the gift needs to be shown because it is so nice. Suspense….

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
This entry was posted in Foliage, garden, Nature, photography, photos, Photoshop, rain, Spring and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Leaf Drops

  1. You are a true pro, Donna! I really think you should enter some photography contests! Amazing! Thanks for the challenge to keep stretching.

  2. Gosh! Amazing macro shots!!!

  3. We all try to improve our skills, your photos are great. I look forward to reading more about making each photo better. Love your maple leaf shots.

    • It is almost never ending in trying to make images better. It starts with the photographer and goes from there. The equipment is important, but not as much as what the photographer learns from experience and over time.One thing I really learned, is you can not learn it without doing it. Videos, and tutorials are great, but nothing beats picking up the camera everyday.

  4. Town Mouse says:

    Ah, I expected a post about the weather (one of my favorite topics) and got a post about photography (which I like even better!). Great photos!

    • Thanks TM. I am also interested in the weather and think the weather has a lot in store for us in the future. It is telling us something very important and we as ‘smart humans’ are just not listening close enough.

  5. newvoice says:

    Wow – thank you for all the wonderful tips!! I am going to try them out.

  6. I like the affect of this concept. I don’t have photoshop or your skill so I will just have to dream through your excellent photos. I rather like the maple images with the blowing rain. Congrats on the Sunshine Award!

    • I too like the maple leaves. They are very small leaves, but taken a bit farther back, maybe a foot or so. I was still using the macro lens. I wanted to include the rain falling, so I made the shutter speed 1/800.

  7. Amazing photos, as always

  8. HolleyGarden says:

    Your images are amazing. Love the one with the rain falling off the tip of the leaf. I didn’t realize you had had no rain since April 1st! What happened to those April showers? We are still getting some rain here – and every drop I praise! I hope this summer will be kind to our gardens. They need a break after last year.

  9. You certainly make me want to stretch my comfort zone and I will be soon…it takes time and practice as with all things…marvelous shots Donna

  10. Jennifer says:

    Donna, I always come away from your posts having learning just a little and with a renewed awareness that there is lots more to learn yet.

  11. AngryRedhead says:

    Droplet refraction is on my bucket list of photographic-must-do, but gah, it’s so annoying. I don’t have a macro lens, but I’m seriously considering buying a set of tubes… They’ve only been sitting in my Amazon cart for a year now. heh.

    Have you been to DIYPhotography.net? This is one of my favorite tutorials/how-I-did-it articles: http://www.diyphotography.net/use-lego-for-making-capture-high-speed-photography-pictures

    Very inspiring and versatile. I only think of it because you were photographing rain which made me think of splash photography and then I remembered this guy doing smash photography using a Lego Mindstorm. If you search for arduino photography, you’ll pull up loads of other setups and similar tutorials.

    • Thanks for the link. I will see it soon. A macro lens it one tough cookie to operate. I know eventually it will not intimidate me.

      • AngryRedhead says:

        When millimeters matter, how can it not be tricky? That’s why I do stuff inside with a tripod where I can use ridiculously long shutter speeds – this has been biting me in the butt though with certain flowers because they wilt just enough to blur while the shutter’s open. bah. The Commelina and the Maggie rose were both causing me troubles on this point. I guess that’s why (what I consider to be) my better shots are of succulents in pots. 😛

        • So true, it is about such fine settings of focus. That is the real problem with a macro lens and why using a zoom lens is great for macros. I should have rented the lens first, http://www.borrowlenses.com/, to find one I could handle and do macros like I want. Maybe I have it but just don’t know how to use it. I have a 17-35mm lens too, but have not been successful using it for close up work. It is really a wide angle lens good for landscapes. This 60mm lens is great when shooting something flat. It is a 1:1 and goes to infinity. I love it for how clear an image is on infinity. That is why focus stacking is a good technique for it when doing close up work. Where you can move the camera millimeters at a time for instance. Zoom lens are better I think like a medium zoom if you want a very clear over all image. But lens are like 2k for the ones getting such good and extreme closeup.

          • AngryRedhead says:

            Have you considered purchasing extension tubes?

            I don’t feel ready to buy a macro lens. I have the macro set for the Lensbaby, but I got the Lensbaby for other reasons besides macro shots. And the set was pretty darn cheap. Anyway, I’m thinking about tubes as a cheaper alternative to a macro lens, and I’ve seen a lot of amazing photos taken that used tubes. Not sure it would necessarily help your predicament, but maybe? You could slap a macro lens on the end of a set of extension tubes and have a greater DOF taking some of the pressure off being so precise. I could be wrong, but that’s how I understand it. Of course, tubes come with their own problems, but I suppose on the plus side, they are FAR cheaper than 200mm telephoto macro lens.

            If you already know all this or have a set or whatever, what’s your opinion on them?

            • It depends on your camera lens whether or not these can be used. I ordered a teleconverter for my 300mm to extend the range and found out the lens could not support the converter. Only the better FX lens could use them. So all my newer lens are FX lens for this reason. I never looked into the tubes though. Lens Baby is a very cool creation, I put in to win one.

      • Oh, I wanted to get back to you on splash photos. Love them and look at them as a real challenge. Your succulent photo was outstanding. The colors and clarity especially.

  12. b-a-g says:

    I like the 2nd and 3rd photos the best. You might be interested in Laura’s technique used for Fuschia Drops in this post : http://patiopatch.co.uk/2012/02/passing-acquaintance/

    • I am very familiar with High Pass and use it on occasion, and thank you for noting it here. The High Pass filter is not applicable here as I am not attempting to sharpen, but use a macro lens at very close range to the subject. The range of what is in focus is very limited as a result, but if the camera is focused correctly, sharpness and clarity are inherent, but limited to a very small area. This is a result of the plane of focus that the macro lens sees. Think of it like sheets of paper making up a book, each page on top of the other. Each sheet displays different information. The book makes a complete story. That is why the Focus Stacking method is used. It is for extremely close images of a subject. Laura’s example is a typical flower macro, not taken with a macro lens I am assuming. If you click the link I had in the post for Advanced Photography, you will see what I am trying to accomplish. It is far beyond the typical macros I do in my posts. I am very far off from accomplishing this yet, and it will take much practice, but images like this can be really amazing.

  13. As I am always learning, this was an excellent post to learn more. Lately, I have been fascinated with water on blooms and plants. This offers me a lot to consider. I enjoyed these images very much…so incredibly beautiful!

    • Thank you, especially coming from such a good photographer yourself. Your work is always inspiring. I think photography is an everending learning process, as technology changes so fast in this industry. I have to admit it gets more complicated and more easy as time goes on. I know the contridition of this statement, but they seem to occur simultaniously. I got my Nikon F2 in 1978 and so much has changed since then.

  14. Christine says:

    Beautiful Donna!!

  15. helensadornmentsblog says:

    I just love the macro lens and also enjoyed seeing all of your shots. The techniques you talked about were interesting. I think my summer project will be learning some Photoshop. It might help me taking pictures of my jewelry. Great post as always.

  16. Brian Comeau says:

    Your 3rd and 4th images are spectacular!

  17. Shyrlene says:

    You have a gift not only for photography but sharing knowledge. This is excellent.

  18. andrea says:

    Aside from your marvelous photo creations, your enthusiasm and diligence always amaze me! Or maybe that is what they call the zest for excellence! I always realize myself to be a far-far mediocre down there, when i am reading your posts. LOL

  19. Dear Donna, Such refreshing images … no rain here. You are such an inspiration to budding photographers! P. x

  20. What a beutiful series, Donna. Excellent.

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