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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Too Warm. Too Cold. Too Green. Too Magenta.

I am talking about the white balance, of course :D. If you're familiar with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) or other RAW processor, you'll know that there's a Temperature slider and a Tint slider.

I've prepared a few seriously exaggerated samples for the ease of explanation. First, the Temperature slider. At this point, we leave the Tint slider as it is.

White Balance As Shot
as shot

Too Warm. Happens if you move the slider too much to the right. You'll get somewhat similar result too if you shoot under tungsten light with AWB.
too warm

Too cold...notice everything becomes bluish? Even the green leaves. Also note that the water lily petals have clipping in it i.e. loss of details and/or textures in the petals. AWB under fluorescent light will give you similar result.
too cold

Now the Tint slider. Leave the Temperature slider at As Shot position.

Too green if you move the slider to the left. Green cast in everything.
green cast

Too magenta if you move the slider to the right....
magenta cast

However, all these won't mean a thing if your display is not calibrated. I use Spyder2Express to calibrate my display at least once a month. How you calibrate your display is crucial too. Make sure there's no backlight or better still, have it done with shades down and lights off.

Even though my display is calibrated, I try not to comment on WB unless it's really really really way off.

If you shoot in RAW, it's quite easy to correct the WB. Just play with both the Temp and Tint sliders until the image looks right to you. Or if there's a white area in the image, use the White Balance tool and click on the white area and that should get you to the ball park. You can then further fine tune from there. Theoretically, the WB Tool works best on an 18% grey area.

However, in the real world, you don't always find a white spot or light grey spot it's back to manually adjusting the sliders until what you see is what you like :D

In my 40D, I have the White Balance on Custom, manually set at around 4600K. Seems to work much better than Auto WB.

I use Spyder3Epxress for my display calibration
SPYDER3EXPRESS

If you shoot with natural light, it will help if you use a white balance cap or white balance card to obtain more accurate white balance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Dragon Smooch!

Oh no...not another animation?

Er..yes...it's yet another animation. LOL. With a dragon so cute, how could I say no? :D

All images shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MP-E65 1X-5X macro lens and Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash

Animation: dragon kiss

The tutorial on creating animation has been posted before:

How to create animation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day Trip to Sungai Congkak Recreational Park

A group of us went to Sungai Congkak last Friday. It was a public holiday in case you were wondering why we didn't have to work:D

Sungai Congkak is only like 35km from Mid Valley city and takes around 45 minutes to get to. Check out this google map for direction/location.

All landscape shots were taken with a Canon 40D and Tamron 17-50mm on tripod. All macro images were taken with a Canon 40D, Canon MP-E65 1X-5X Macro Lens and Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash.


View Larger Map

Although we left town at 7:30am, by the time we got there, the sun was already too high and harsh for any decent slow shutter waterfall shots :(. Lots of irrecoverable blown highlights. The only way to avoid it was to just shoot the water and rocks and avoid the land altogether. Only managed a couple of boring shots before i decided to switch to macro mode :D

IMG_3079 copy

IMG_3065orton

Lovely red and hairy beetle
IMG_3110 copy

a raft spider(?) with jumping spider as prey, and a few jackal flies(?)
IMG_3161 copy

IMG_3180 copy

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Maestro!

Ladies and Gentlemen, i present you ........The Maestro!24
Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

All images shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MP-E65 1X-5X macro lens and Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash

the maestro

She sure has beautiful eyes, doesn't she? :D...too bad the mouth is so hideous..but that's out of the scope of of this post here.

Creating an animation like this is so easy. Just check out my previous post on it:

How to create animation from still images

Unfreez is a freeware. Try to play around with the Frame Delay to get the effect you want.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day Trip to Kellie's Castle and Ipoh old town

I went to Kellie's Castle and Ipoh with a pal of mine and three new friends yesterday.

(From Wikipedia)

Kellie's Castle (sometimes also called Kellie's Folly) is located near Batu Gajah, and is about 20 minutes' drive from Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. The unfinished, ruined mansion, was built by a Scottish planter named William Kellie Smith. According to differing accounts, it was either a gift for his wife or a home for his son. More here.

More about Kellie's Castle here.

All the images were shot with Canon 40D and Tamron 17-50 and Hoya Pro CPL


Kellie's Castle from the front
IMG_2988_89_90_91_92_tonemapped copy

View from the back
IMG_2937 copy

from the side
IMG_2965 copy

the corridor
IMG_2972rdymx

Ipoh old town:

An elderly gentleman riding a trishaw
IMG_3039

Phang Kwi - an old rattan furniture shop in old town, Ipoh
IMG_3019bw

Mr. Phang, a kind and friendly gentleman who not only allowed us to shoot, but chatted with us quite a bit too.
IMG_3009bw

Mr. Phang repairing an old furniture
IMG_3018bw

Monday, November 30, 2009

How to judge a macro image?

Argh...this is gonna be a tough one to write. I should just post a few images:P

Not sure about you, but when i look at a macro shot, I look at not just the technical aspect of it but also the artistic/aesthetic side as well.

- Is focusing spot on?

- Sufficient DOF and enough details for me to ooh and aah at?

- Is the pose good? Let's face it...butt shots are normally frowned upon, even though it might work once in a while :D If you catch a bug in flight or about to take off, extra brownie points!

Now a couple of images for a short break.

Most of the images below were shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MP-E65 1X-5X Macro Lens and Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash.

weevil taking off IMG_4672 copy copy

DSC_7835 web

- Composition. This can be very subjective though so let's not discuss it too much here :-D. Common portraiture rules/guidelines apply in macro as well. For example, active space, head shot, shoulder shot, half body shot, full body shot - you need to know where to crop/frame even if the subject is a bug. But of course...the bugs are always on the move and it's not always easy to shoot, much less frame them nicely.

- Background clutter - try to avoid them as much as possible.

OK..another short break.

The Fangs (IMG_2300 copy)

- Quality of light, whether you shoot with natural lighting or full flash, the light has to be good. If you're shooting natural light, shoot in the morning or evening or when it's overcast. Clouds are the best diffusers for sunlight.

If you're shooting full flash, bring your light as close to the subject as possible, and make the diffuser as big as possible - apparent light size. It's been discussed in this post.


How to tell if the light is bad?

Clue #1:

Look at the specular highlight and see if they're easy on the eyes. Any blown highlight with lost details?

Clue #2

Look at the shadow. Hasrh aka poorly diffused light will result in hard i.e more defined shadow.

Something like this..but of course this one is not bad at all:D
Zanna Terminalis nymph (IMG_9249copy)

Notice the shadows of the legs are quite defined? Not bad but can be better. But it's shot with a 100mm at quite a distance, with snoot-diffuser. Bigger distance = poor apparent light size so this is to be expected.

Do bear in mind that if the subject is very leggy, you can't expect to see much shadow. For example, look at this shot of a stilt legged fly:

IMG_2862 copy

Almost no shadow.

- of course when you see a shot of a rare bug, all the rules above can be relaxed a little :D

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wonderful Floras and Faunas

I woke up really early last Saturday. 4:30am to be exact. Met up with three other photographers and went up to a highland hoping to shoot sunrise.

Turned out to be a foggy, windy, and rainy day with no sun in sight. Still a great day though to enjoy the cold weather and all the wonderful floras and faunas the highland had to offer.

All images here were shot with a Canon 40D and Sigma 150mm F2.8 Macro Lens.


A rather rare scorpionfly, for me, at least. Hope to see it again and take better shots of it.
IMG_2224 copy2

Asian Flower Mantis, black BG
IMG_2210 copy

Asian Flower Mantis, green BG. Haven't seen one of these since May 28, 2008!:D
IMG_2211 copy

An animation here: View On Black

Tiny Pitcher's plant...some less than 15mm!
IMG_2103 copy

Monday, November 16, 2009

A few Odonata shots with my new toy

Just a few Odonata shots from my new lens. You'll have to view the exif to see for yourself which lens it is. If you need help on viewing exif, view this:. The "bokeh-er" background should give you a hint that it's a long focal length :D. I'm still not telling. Go check the exif yourself.

Trithemis aurora male, crimson dropwing
IMG_1926 copy
Canon EOS 40D, 1/50, f/7.1, ISO 320, Natural Light, Handheld

male crimson dropwing trithemis aurora IMG_6555edit copy

A male Crimson dropwing (Trithemis aurora)
crimson dropwing reflection

Trithemis aurora, female crimson dropwing
IMG_1756 ST copy
Canon EOS 40D, 1/100, f/7.1, ISO 200, Natural Light, Handheld

Up close with a male Crimson dropwing (Trithemis aurora)
male dragonfly Crimson dropwing, Trithemis aurora IMG_0956 copy

Bronze Flutterer (Rhyothemis obsolescens)
IMG_6672 copy Bronze Flutterer, Rhyothemis obsolescens

IMG_6129 copy Bronze Flutterer (Rhyothemis obsolescens)

Yellow-barred Flutterer Rhyotemis phyllis
Yellow-barred Flutterer IMG_4038 copy

Yellow-barred Flutterer IMG_4051 copy

A male Trumpet Tale, Acisoma panorpoides, eating a damselfly.
IMG_1838 copy
Canon EOS 40D, 1/100, f/8, ISO 320, Fill Flash, Handheld

Portrait of a male Trumpet Tail, Acisoma panorpoides
Dragonfly Acisoma panorpoides (Trumpet Tail) IMG_8802 copy

Another portrait
Acisoma panorpoides IMG_3591 stk copy

A female Trumpet Tail, Acisoma panorpoides
female acisoma panorpoides IMG_9487 copy

A male Pygmy dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea. The smallest dragonfly in Malaysia, only about 15mm body length and 20mm wing span.
IMG_0423stk copy

A female Nannophya pygmaea
A female Nannophya pygmaea (IMG_4844 copy)

A male Pygmy dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea.
IMG_0409 copy

A male in obelisk pose.
IMG_6700 copy  male Nannophya pygmaea (Scarlet Pygmy) in obelisk pose

A sub-adult male Sarlet Pygmy (Nannophya pygmaea)
IMG_6725 copy Scarlet Pygmy (Nannophya pygmaea)

Female Lyriothemis biappendiculata
IMG_8187 copy

A male treehugger dragonfly,  Tyriobapta torrida
male treehugger dragonfly Tyriobapta torrida IMG_8913 DT copy

A female treehugger dragonfly Tyriobapta torrida. Very cryptic!
IMG_8903 copy

Potamarcha congener?
Potamarcha congener ? IMG_1985 copy

Macrogomphus thoracius
Macrogomphus thoracius dragonfly IMG_8850 record shot copy edit

Onychothemis testacea
Onychothemis testacea (male) IMG_9123 (2) copy

Ictinogomphus decoratus(Common Flangetail)
IMG_1417 copy

Neurothemis ramburii dragonfly fallen prey to a raft spider. If you like spiders, check this post out!
Neurothemis ramburii dragonfly fallen prey toa raft spider. IMG_6353 copy

Variegated green skimmer (Orthetrum sabina) with prey - a butterfly.
Orthetrum sabina with prey IMG_6801 copy

Heliocypha biforata.
Heliocypha biforata IMG_8929 copy

Dark tipped forest skimmer (Cratilla metallica)
Cratilla metallica, dark tipped forest skimmer IMG_3888 copy

Euphaea ochracea
Eupheae ochracea IMG_9503 (2) copy

Not sure of its ID.
IMG_7892 copy

Devadatta argyoides
Devadatta argyoides IMG_0825 copy

Rhinagrion elopurae
Rhinagrion elopurae IMG_6941 copy

Stunning male green metalwing, Neurobasis chinensis
Green Metalwing damselfly,  Neurobasis chinensis IMG_8124 copy
Watch an animated gif to see for yourself the flashy green metallic wing tips of this gorgeous damselfly here.

Green metalwing damselfly (Neurobasis chinensis ) IMG_5227 stk copy

A damselfly with cricket prey.
Damselfly with cricket prey.........IMG_3013 copy

Damsel eats damsel.
IMG_6204 copy

Damselflies in tandem.
damselflies mating, in tandem DSC_7731 web

The emergence of a damselfly.
Animation: Damselfly Emergence
More animation here.


Portrait of a male immature Crimson dropwing Trithemis aurora
dragonfly portraitIMG_1477 copy

IMG_3058stk copy

Another portrait. Not sure of its ID.
Face to face with a dragonfly.......IMG_9689stk copy

I haven't tried Full Flash shots with this long focal length macro lens yet, but i know the light is going to be harsh. Heck, i could see that even in my fill flash shot already, so it's gonna be worse for full flash. I use the same DIY Diffusers for my usual 40D, MP-E65 and MT-24EX setup, except now it's 40D, MT-24EX and a new, longer lens, and longer working distance. So why the harsh light? Why does it work ok on when i use my MP-E65 but not with this new lens? Well, again, it's about the apparent light size, which i explained in one of my earlier post: Full Flash Macro Photography - 3 Things you must know! Besides the longer working distance compared to the MP-E65, which I am still trying to get used to, this new lens also produces much warmer images. I normally set the WB to 4800K for the 40D, MP-E65 and MT-24EX, but the same 4800K still results in very warm photos. I'm going to lower the WB to maybe 4000 next time. That's all and cheers for now :) OK...i'm sure you've checked the exif and know the answer already - my new toy is a Sigma 150mm F2.8 Macro Lens :)

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