My Cheap Macro Date

Lately, I’ve been asked what kind of camera and lens do I use — especially for my macro shots. When I bought my Nikon D90 camera as a kit, it came with a couple of lenses and a few filters. The standard Nikkor 18-55mm and Nikkor 70-300mm. One of the filters was a screw on macro. I thought about Nikon’s 105 mm micro but at $900, it was out of my budget. So, I decided to make the best of my cheap $10 screw on Macro filter. And you know what? While the macro filter might not take the sharpest photos and the focus is a constant challenge, I am very impressed by the images I can capture with this filter. Because of its limitations, it constantly challenges my skills. The focus distance for the filter is about 4 or 5 inches, so I have to shoot really close to my subject; this is when good eyes, quick timing and patience are crucial to getting a focused shot.

These photos were taken yesterday at the community garden in Marymoore Park. It’s the same garden I was at last weekend — when I conquered my nemesis. It was a great date with Macro. I shot these in RAW, using the Nikkor 18-55mm lens. I find that the macro filter works better on this lens than the 50mm prim lens. By shooting in RAW, I didn’t have to do much processing, other than adding some sharpness and contrast, adjusted lighting, and some cropping. Overall, I’m very satisfied with the results. Of course it is still my dream to have the 105mm micro but for now… I’m happy with my cheap Macro dates.

I’m not sure what this green bug was. It looked like a bee but I’ve never seen a green bee before — then I thought maybe this is a green hornet? Does anyone have any idea what it might be? Well, whatever it was, it couldn’t have landed on a better color flower. It’s bright green color was a perfect contrast against the red background.

I don’t know if the hair on this bumble bee is as soft as it looks but I do know the sting hurts like your skin is on fire! I was stung by one last summer.


Natural Weather Prediction

As I was standing around, waiting for the furry kids to do their business on a grassy patch at the golf course pond; I looked up at a tree branch just above my head and to my surprise, I saw what looks like a bee’s nest. As I stood in awe of the perfectly constructed nest, and was wondering what kind of bee lives there — when a menace looking hornet flew out of the nest.

I told Jean Yves about the nest. I told him it was hanging so low I could touch it. He told me that when a bee’s nest is built low, it means we will have warm weather this winter. While I am familiar with the use of a groundhog to predict if spring will arrive early or late, I’ve never thought much about using insects. Our conversation got me curious on what other insect weather predictions there are. Especially, since I noticed that there are still a lot of dragonflies and spiders hanging around. Normally they would be gone by now…

After some research, these are some of the insect predictions:

When you see more of spiders in the fall, that means abnormally cold temperatures for the upcoming winter months. Hmm… guess this kind of clash with the low hanging hornet’s nest prediction. Although, I’m hoping that the hornet is right. And we will have warmer winter temperatures.

According to the ancient Chinese prediction, if a dragonfly is flying vertically rather than horizontally, it’s a sign there will be heavy rain. Well… I took this shot yesterday and this dragonfly was flying horizontally all over the golf course pond. The weather today started out sunny but it’s starting to rain…

While this was an interesting educational experience, I wouldn’t trust the predictions from the insects anymore than I trust our politician’s campaign promises. Guess, we’ll just have to wait and see. ūüėČ

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Blogging Commitment

After more than two weeks of constant rain, I was¬†desperate to go somewhere. I’ve¬†heard about the¬†annual eagle migration at Rockport, WA this weekend and thought it would be a great opportunity to get some photos of this magnificent bird for my blog. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Just as we were leaving town, the car¬†developed some engine problem. To make the long story short… I was stuck at home all weekend and found myself uninspired today. Guess the thought of what the repair cost for the car might be, weighted heavily on my mind. From experience, going to the mechanics is like going to the doctors — every little thing cost so much — and I was right. The problem turned out to be the air sensor valve. I was told this tiny valve was going to cost $395.00 just for the part. As if to make the price more justifiable, the mechanic went into a long explanation about the purpose of the valve and all the intricate wires inside. Basically, it’s important for regulating the airflow to the engine. Okay… I can see¬†its¬†importance,¬†though I still think¬†it’s way over priced —¬†¬†just like the over inflated medical costs.

After I got home from the garage, I didn’t feel like¬†posting anything and decided to skip today. However, I reminded myself the commitment I made¬†to post 5 times a week — I can skip only when I have good valid reasons — and being¬†upset about my car is not good enough reason. As¬†I looked through my archives of photos to¬†use with the story, for some unknown reason; these shots made me feel better.¬†Somehow, seeing¬†the photos made me let go of the frustrations I had about the car expense. These photos were taken last¬†July at the golf course pond near my home.

Creepy Date with Macro

Thought it would be fun to go on a bug hunt with Macro today. Although, the date wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. You think there would be bugs everywhere¬†but I guess living in a well manicured neighborhood isn’t a good breeding ground for bugs; too much pesticides, chemicals and such. After a couple of hours walking and searching,¬†we¬†came upon¬†a fly devouring another…

Photographer in Distress

As I was walking the dogs by the golf course pond this morning, I saw a flock of birds dancing and singing¬†on top of the trees and bushes. I’ve wanted to take some pictures of these colorful birds. Quickly, I went home to get my camera. My dog Max, gave me the “You cheated me out of my walk” look… as I¬†ran out the door.

Wouldn’t you know… when I got to the pond, not a single bird insight… not even a tweet. Well… being the patient photographer, I waited in the bushes hoping they would think I had left. After about 30 minutes, I came to the conclusion that they were not as dumb as I had hoped. Though, while I was waiting in the bushes, I noticed there were dragonflies flying and hovering around. I tried to take some shots but discovered it was as difficult to get a shot of these dragonflies as I did with the birds. Finally, just as I was ready to give up… when this little dragonfly took pity on me and did a nice pose.

Wow! I didn’t know… I just google for info. on dragonflies. Did you know they have been¬†around¬†for more than 325 million years?? Talk about survival of the fittest…

Dragonflies can fly forward at about 100 body-lengths per second, and backwards at about 3 body-lengths per second. They are also capable of hovering in the air for about a minute.  The wings of male dragoinflies are relatively longer and narrower than females in large species. Adult wingspans measure from 17 millimeters to 20 centimeters.

The World of Tiny Details

Here I thought this golf course pond was nothing¬†more than a¬†place for¬†miss shot golf balls and breeding ground for blood sucking mosquitos.¬†Except now, I feel like I have discovered a gold mine.¬† This pond has forced me to look beyond the norm…¬† to seek out things that I would not have thought about or felt it would be interesting to photograph. Every time I go there, I learn to see things with a different perspective.¬†Another life lesson from these little creatures… don’t judge a book by its cover.¬†

I didn’t think much of this fly until I got really up close and personal.

When I saw the details of the wings, I wanted to see more… I spent¬†over an¬†hour chasing and waiting for a fly to sit still.

My patience rewarded… WOW! Creepy but fascinating. I¬†couldn’t believe the amount of details on this little guy and honestly, I never knew what a fly’s feet¬†look like until now.¬†The head is so alien like. It looks more like it belongs in one of those Hollywood horror¬†movies. The movie – “THE FLY” comes to mind…

My Date with Macro

I finally got a macro lens Friday and was looking forward to using it… but of course it rained for the next three days. Rain… rain… go away… come again some other day, I sang before going to bed last night. Well… this morning I was happy to see the¬†song¬†had worked. It was cloudy but no rain. Quickly, I got my gears and headed down to the golf course pond; my new-found playground. I spent the next couple of hours bending, crouching and twisting my body into interesting positions… lost in the world of tiny details. I was on my¬†elbows and¬†knees looking at an interesting plant when I noticed a movement… quickly I refocused and saw two black eyes staring back at me. Wow! I couldn’t believe my luck… and what a nice model this little bug was. It sat and posed for me until I was satisfied with the results.

The joy of Macro photography… this little bug is less than 1/4″ long.