"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 16 August 2013

Garden Flowers, Bees and Seedheads

For one reason and another I haven't been able to get out much recently. Actually that's not strictly true I had to go into Solihull yesterday and had an hour to spare so planned to retry the butterfly and dragonfly walk in Brueton Park LNR but the minute I drove into the car park the heavens opened so the trip was abandoned yet again!

Earlier this week I decided I would try a little experiment comparing the 14-42mm lens on the camera which I use most of the time with the macro lens I had a few Christmas's ago which I've never got to grips with. To be fair the conditions weren't ideal as it was overcast and windy and I had to set ISO at 800 to get a decent shutter speed. Almost,without exception, the 14-42mm lens gave better results even when the photos were cropped. I could get in a lot closer with the macro lens but the results were in the main not sharp and very hit and miss.

The first lot of photos below were taken with the 14-42mm lens

Cosmos and Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee on Cornflower

White Cosmos

Chinese lanterns (hanging in the porch)

Sweet Pea


Verbena bonariensis


Various Seedheads

Ribwort Plantain

I was going to show you all the similar shots taken with the macro lens but to be honest most were pretty useless so I've just published a few of the slightly better photos.

Cosmos and Bumble Bee

Bumble and Cornflower



Chinese Lantern

Before I totally give up with the macro lens - I have bought a magazine - see below to try and improve my technical skills!!! I have a horrible feeling one of the pieces of advice will be to use a tripod and I hate tripods as I find them very cumbersome and usually end up falling over the legs. Also they might be useful for photography of things that keep still like flowers but not so good for taking photos of insects or anything else that moves rapidly around! Patience is not one of my virtues :)


Em Parkinson said...

I hate tripods too! Since we are usually trying to photograph and insect that's about to fly off, there isn't time to be faffing about. I've just has to accept that my photos will never be as good as some peoples but I'll probably have more of them!

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Excellent point re: tripods. I tried once with frogs mating in pond and there was me, camera and tripod dangling precariously from rockery over pond. And on top of that you have to loosen dials and levers and twirl the head around whilst trying to focus. Last time I used tripod to try and take birds on garden feeders I tripped and the whole tripod and camera went flying. Somehow - will never know how!! - I managed to catch camera and lens and save them from death on a concrete floor!!!

I agree too with your second point though have to say your photos are excellent :) Came to conclusion long ago that I hadn't got skills, patience, or equipment for brilliant photos so just do it for fun and keep a record :)

Toffeeapple said...

I always manage to get my legs tangled up in my tripod. OK for static things, but not wildlife.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - So glad to find I am not the only one to hate the things!!

Chris Rohrer said...

You really took some stunning shots here! I especially love the Chinese lanterns :-) What do I hate? I hate the weather in Tucson right now! It's so hot here that I don't have any desire to do anything outside. Love these macros

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris - so glad you liked the photos :)

I can't even begin to imagine how hot it is in Tucson - I would just melt!! We had it hot here (though nowhere near like temps you get)for a few weeks and it was too hot for me to want to go out :(

Wendy said...

I love your photos - and I'm with you on tripods. Like you, I want to take pictures of creatures that won't wait around for a tripod to be fixed in the right place! I take most of my photos when I'm out walking, too, so I don't want to carry one around.

David Turner said...

An interesting comparison Caroline and as you say the 14-42 mm lens does seem to outperform the macro. However the macro does look a little sharper though this may be a result of cropping the 14-42mm photos. As I've said before I share a dislike of tripods and only use them for things like fungi when you have to shoot in low light and use smaller apertures.

PS. I've been catching up with your blog this afternoon and you have got lots of lovely images lately and have been to a number of interesting places :-) Additionally I have also been catching loads of Lesser BB Yellow Underwings in the moth trap lately :-)

SeagullSuzie said...

Very interesting to see the difference with the macro lens. I would like to get one for my camera, although the standard kit lens I have does an fairly good job of close ups. I have a few camera magazines too, to try to help with things-it's just getting the time to read them!
I just love the blue of the cornflower and great photos all round.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Many thanks :) We all seem to be of same opinion re: tripods!

David - Thanks so much David. I really should have put more of the poorer macro lens images in the post for a fairer comparison!! I shall, however,persevere!!

So glad you have been enjoying recent posts. I have a feeling all species of YU''s are going to increase from now on!!!

Seagull Suzie - Many thanks :) I bought the macro lens really for close ups of moths and other insects but found 14-42mm was doing a good job. Don't let my experiences put you off macro lens though - its probably a combination of the camera set up I have and my lack of skills.

The magazines are useful - I bought one years ago from the same people that covered all the basics of dslr photography and made myself work through the whole book and it definitely improved my understanding of things like aperture, ISO, etc. etc.

Jerry said...

What an interesting post - I actually think that all the photographs look gorgeous and actually that I do like the extra little bit of depth of field in some of the macro lens shots. Such lovely subjects too of course. Verbina bonariensis always makes me think of the great Christopher Lloyd as he so loved it and it embellishes some of the most delightful areas of his garden at Great Dixter. Have you ever been there?

Ragged Robin said...

Jerry - Thank you so much :) Actually just been looking again and can see what you mean about the depth of field. I will keep trying even if I do have to delete most of the shots!!

No, sadly, I have never been to Great Dixter - its one of those great gardens I would so love to visit one day!

Lou Mary said...

I have been thinking of purchasing a macro lens when I have some spare cash. But maybe it won't be worth it?! I have a nice lightweight tripod but hardly use it. Mainly for sunsets and evening skies outside my house!

I think your photos are fab! The bee on the cornflower is superb!

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary - Thank you. Looking at the photos again after David's comment I could see some of the macro shots were better than I thought with more depth of field!!

Don't let my experiences put you off either. I think it depends on make of camera etc. - Mine's an olympus and no ISS. David at Wold Ranger is taking some superb photos with his new macro lens.

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary - Thank you. Looking at the photos again after David's comment I could see some of the macro shots were better than I thought with more depth of field!!

Don't let my experiences put you off either. I think it depends on make of camera etc. - Mine's an olympus and no ISS. David at Wold Ranger is taking some superb photos with his new macro lens.

Sarah Stokes said...

Hi there. What a great blog and beautiful photos. They are stunning. I'm a watercolor artist, originally from Solihull and now living in Wolverhampton. I wondered if you would consider letting me use one of your bee photographs as the basis of a painting. I work with a number of professional artists and would happily give credit on my social media accounts and abide by any other T and C's you might have. This is my FB page, just so that you know it's a genuine request. Many thanks, Sarah www.facebook.com/sarahstokesartist and www.sarahstokesartist.co.uk

Ragged Robin said...

Hi Sarah - Thanks so much for the lovely comment and getting in touch. I feel honoured that you think any of my photos are good enough to use as a basis of a painting and it is good of you to ask permission (I have a horrible feeling reading of problems that people have had that permission isn't always sought!!). So yes, I would be happy for you to use one or more of my photos. If you would like to give me a credit please feel free to use either Ragged Robin or my real name which is Caroline Irwin - whichever you prefer. I am on twitter but not on facebook although my husband is so if you get chance please let me know if you do do a painting as I would love to see it on your website/facebook page. My email address is under my profile if that is easier to contact me :) Thanks again.