Boredom and lavender

9 11 2012

So I’ve been grumpy of late. I used to be Doc, but the suit doesn’t fit any more, and I always thought Sneezy was a bit of a hypochondriac.

I had a drink with an old work colleague last night, and he shared the news that his wife is due to have a baby. As a father of three myself (“one of each” as I like to quip), I commiserated with him, and we had a pleasant evening “shooting the shit” as is the male preference on such occasions.

But in all seriousness, this was great news, and it made me realise how much I’ve been missing my old colleagues from my previous job. Not that my new colleagues are bad, you understand. I just haven’t reached that “depth” with them yet.

Luckily when I got home I was cheered up by my self-administered cure. I’d recently engaged in web-retail therapy, and my brand new “toy” had arrived. I was now the proud owner of my first red-lined Canon lens. Yup I own an L-series 100mm macro lens. So now what?

Well – like a kid with a new bag of marbles, I just had to start taking pictures. Of anything. Anything at all. Several times. Even if it complained. Or in the case of the dog – growled. As with any new lens, it’ll take me a while to get the best out of it. Well – the best I can get out of it that is!

For now, I used it as an excuse to get out my tripod, my remote release (no – that’s not a sex toy), and take photos of random detritus – a surprising amount of which seems to inhabit our house. And then I remembered the lavender tea my number two offspring had asked me to buy on our summer trip to Victoria. Mmm… I can almost smell it from the photo. Or maybe it’s on my fingers. Or in my head. I’m still on the hunt for things to photograph up close and personal. Perhaps a piece of Wedgewood next…

The downside became apparent as I looked through my “test images”. The dog! Her shed hair is EVERYWHERE, and at these resolutions you can see it in the most surprising places – like in a pine cone! Still getting used to the depth of field (as with any new lens), but here’s my first attempts…

Well if I can do it, ANYONE can…

18 03 2012

OK, so I don’t claim these are actually that good at all, but I proved to myself that I could, in principle, capture the image of an ink drop in water.

Should I ever want to do it “properly”, I learned enough things this afternoon to do it w-a-a-a-y better next time. Allow me to share, and save you some time…

I took the Red Bubble set up as pretty much the starting place. A couple of things I learned though…

1) Don’t have the water container too close to the monitor… a round container acts like a lens, and you can actually see the pixel grid on the monitor, get interference patterns, etc. Probably better to get a more even light source. Outside on a sunny day? at least have the container sufficiently far infront of the monitor that the light is diffuse.

2) You might even be better with a flat-sided glass container. Perhaps an IKEA vase. This avoids the curved lens effect.

3) Use distilled water, or boiled water, and a very clean glass container. Otherwise you get little bubbles stuck to the insides, and the AF can lock onto them. (I wiped them off with a clean cloth.)

4) (Thanks to Bijou for this tip.) Focus is a pig, due to the moving ink. In the end, I used a fork in the middle of the container to give something nice for the AF to lock onto in roughly the place the ink would be, then switched to Manual to stop the camera hunting around.

5) I actually used food colouring – it seems to spread better than writing ink… and comes in a better range of colours.

6) Finally, I used the software “remote control” tool for my Canon, and set the ISO speed high, to allow the shutter speed/multi-shot to be pretty rapid whilst keeping the DoF as long as possible, by mucking with the light sources.

Above all… have some fun. If they don’t come out that good, so what? If you enjoyed the attempt, and didn’t spill water in either your fancy DSLR or your keyboard, who cares?

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