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Old May 21, 2010, 12:46 AM   #1
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Default Jumping Spiders and other critters. . . and some observations

Hi All,

I went out to the Nature Center, but stayed close as rain was predicted. I could hear birds about, but didn't see any, so I broke out the K20, Sigma 180 Macro, 1.7x AFA, and the Metz Macro Slave to look for some critters.

I'd been looking for Jumping Spiders, as I'd seen pics from others and liked their look. I didn't realize how tiny these guys are (maybe 5-6mm bodies) -- at least the ones around here. They're also quick, and don't seem to sit still very often -- they were out hunting. Anyway, I was able to get some good shots of one, and only one decent of another species.

All of these were hand-held, using AF C, and with the Metz fired wirelessly by the popup which was set to "controller". Magnifications were between 1:1 and 1.9:1.

#1 Close to head on. The large central eyes are apparently have very good vision, and give them a relatively innocent look.

#2 It paused and rared up like this, I got lucky, and was ready. . .

#3 An overhead view while it was walking rather slowly. I really couldn't keep it in the VF when it was walking quickly.

#4 This is the only good shot I was able to get of this one, which is apparently a different species that I found on the other side of the building. Notice the two long wormlikea appendages hanging under its head. The other one had some, but not nearly as long -- sorry I don't have the vocabulary or knowledge to describe them or their function. . .more stuff to learn.
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Old May 21, 2010, 12:58 AM   #2
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Here are some more of the Crab Spider from yesterday. I posted one in the "Macro Shootout" thread earlier.

#1 Another one where I got it shooting silk threads. It had climbed to the top of this blade of crabgrass, and started shooting out silk in different directions. When it turned its back to me, I pulled the camera back and covered the end of the lens, but felt strands land on my head and arm. I then had to relocate it again in the VF, and turned on the flash to try for a different effect, but soon after, it connected with one strand on a bush about 4' away and took off up the strand.

#2 With the flash -- it was mostly on the other side of the blade -- I'm going to have to play with this and get more ambient light. . .

#3 Seems to have some motion blur -- which I don't quite understand with the flash, but the pose and background were pretty dramatic, so I'm posting it for that reason.
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Old May 21, 2010, 1:12 AM   #3
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Some non-spiders. . .

#1 is a Harvestman, or Daddy-Long-Legs. It's an Arachnid, (has eight legs), but it doesn't have the segmented body that Spiders do. . . something I learned today. . .

#2 is a closer view of the Crane Fly that I previously posted in the shootout thread. This one was with the flash. Too bad I cut off the butt. . .

#3 I have no idea what this is -- if someone can help, it'd be appreciated. . . this is the first of two that I saw. I need to learn how to square the camera to the surface to get more of the shot in focus. . . Notice how it seems to just extend the rear legs along its body.

#4 Here's the second one of these. . . it was low on the wall, so I figured that a head on might help in ID. In this one, I could have squared the camera with the "wings". There were wings, I think, under what appears to be stiff coverings projecting out to the sides -- both of these flew away soon after I got these shots.
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Old May 21, 2010, 1:20 AM   #4
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these are great. i really liked the crane fly.
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Old May 21, 2010, 1:41 AM   #5
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Super series Scott,

really like your jumping spider shots

Cheers

Ronny
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Old May 21, 2010, 1:46 AM   #6
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These are the last couple.

#1 I got a similar shot a while back, but it was in the middle of the woods with the FA* 300/4.5. This one's with the same setup as the other macros here, but it was really windy. It took three tries to get one that was pretty close, so I quit while I was ahead. . .

#2 This is one reason I wanted a long Macro and use the 1.7x AFA. When I was shooting yesterday, I was getting pretty stiff, so I stood up to stretch out, and saw this mama squirrel watching me -- with something shorter than 306mm, this would have been less of a shot, IMO. I know it's no great shakes, but the idea of having a (short) birding lens and a better than 1:1 macro in the same lens was something I've always wanted.

Now a couple of observations.

I need a lot of work with this macro thing. I'm used to dealing with shallow DOF, but it's really difficult for me to get my head around squaring everything up to get more of the critters in focus. Details, details, details.

The K20 is much better with this lens, AFA, flash combo than the K-7. The K-7 underexposes massively, and is inconsistent, which surprises me. The K20 overexposes some, but is consistent. I also get sharper results consistently with the K20, and as far as I can tell, it's not a FF or BF thing, so focus adjustment doesn't cure it, I've tried. . .This doesn't happen with any other lens or lens/TC combo I've tried -- they either tie, or the K-7 is a touch better and just easier to use for everything. . . good thing I have the K20. . .

I really like the AFA with macro lenses. I can get almost 2:1 (actually @ 1.9:1), which I don't quite understand, but it probably is an optics thing with the close focusing distance. . . I'm using AF C despite the common knowledge about AF and macro shooting. I find that this gives me an edge over MF. The DOF is so critically thin that AF C actually helps by making some microadjustments. It's still difficult to get the focus just right, but I do better with the help of AF C. With the AFA, the focusing range is very small at macro distances with the 180, smaller than the focus limiter by quite a bit, and a lock to lock hunt is virtually instantaneous. Regaining focus is just as quick, and as long as I trip the shutter while it's microadjusting, I'm going to be at least close. This is a really demanding technique, but it's also rewarding me with a considerably higher percentage of shots focused where I want it.

Another thing with the AFA is that the added magnification allows me to shoot 1:1 at a greater distance. This increases DOF, and most small bugs end up inside the DOF, if not entirely, mostly. I may lose a little detail, but the greater DOF is usually worth it. At 1:1, the end of the lens (actually the flash) is about 15" from the subject with the AFA, and this is well outside most bugs' comfort zone I'm finding.

I'm learning something significant to my shooting every time I go out. I've got some plans to experiment some with the various options that the Metz has, and I'll report when I find something cool. . .

Scott
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Old May 21, 2010, 2:42 AM   #7
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that flying caterpillar came out great - tried it a zillion times and haven't had one that good, love the squirl
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Old May 21, 2010, 4:23 AM   #8
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Wow snostorm, those are Great shots, All. Looks like from what I read here is the answer to My Macro problems, it's too complicated and takes patience (which I seriously lack). I admire YOUR work that much more now.

That B-52 thing is a Fly ?? Dang.

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Old May 21, 2010, 4:57 AM   #9
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like all the shots, looks like the spiders like you, and are posing for you
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Old May 21, 2010, 9:30 AM   #10
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Scott - firstly let me say that I for one greatly appreciate you taking the time to describe your technique and thinking behind it. I find it very interesting and thought provoking - I would like to try a long macro lens to compare to the Tammy 90 which is what I use most of the time for my macro shots.

Jumping Spider - you know I love these Great face on shot !
Crab Spider - some gorgeous bokeh you have going on there ! Recently I've found myself looking more and more to frame my subjects against a background that will provide, at least, an attractive and smooth bokeh. A very interesting creature.

Flying caterpillar ? What's going on there ? Are you throwing it up in the air
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