Thursday, February 11, 2010

Photos of the Day

I love macro photography! Since I tend to concentrate on nature and wildlife subjects first, I was faced with a few problems. Living in the mid-west means you are half way to where ever you want to go with the St. Louis area being so centrally located in the United States. But the magnificant mountains, wide open spaces, and sun drenched beaches are still pretty far away. Also the equipment to do the photography I am interested in can drain your entire life savings in short order.  So I started very small. Not only with my budget, but my subject matter too. After I bought my first DSLR, I finally saved enough money to buy Canon's best macro lens. The 180mm f3.5L I could have gotten a less expensive lens, but this lens is amazing on sharpness, contrast, and colors. Macro photography requires patience and skill. All my macro shots are off a tripod and I use a cable release to trip the shutter. The use of a 1.4 extender with the macro lens will give me about 252mm of focal length. This allows me to work much farther away from my subject and not disturb it. This also gives me even better bokeh (background blurring) due to the longer focal length. Although there are specialty flashes for macro work such as ring lights, I prefer to try and use all natural light. Often I will use a small hand held reflector to bounce some light back onto my subject. to fill in some dark areas. My wife's flower gardens, and the Edwardsville Watershed Nature Center provide me endless possibilities for macro photography. When I travel, (which is as often as my bank account will allow) I am always on the lookout for butterfly houses and nature centers that have insects on display. These are excellent places to photograph exotic species that are not native to the United States. The Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly House in Chesterfield, MO. is a great place. The St. Louis Zoo's Insectarium is also great to photograph in. Amazingly,  Key West, FL. being famous for so many things, has a superb butterfly house. It is actually larger than the MBG's butterfly house. Butterflies are just amazing creatures. Each species has its colors and patterns for specific reasons. Not only do I enjoy the photography, but I also love to do the research and learn about each individual species and study their habits. This allows me to anticipate the action and get the shot.

These butterflies are all non-native species and were taken at various places in my travels. The top left is a Sapho Longwing Butterfly, native to Costa Rica. The one below it is called a Paper Kite Butterfly, or sometimes a Rice Paper Butterfly. It is native to Southeast Asia. The larger photo above is a Blue Clipper Butterfly and it is native to the Philippine Islands.

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