Friday, 27 May 2011

Same subject; different approach

Park Gate Down orchids

I was determined to get some shots before the wind got up too much as it had blighted my attempts to get any half-decent shots earlier in the week. I arrived at 7.15 to reasonably favourable conditions [overcast but still] and set about my task of experimenting with some different kit. It's all too easy to stick to the macro lens when photographic orchids but I wanted to push the envelope a little, so I left it at home!

I've included my shooting details to give an idea of what I was up to.

Monkey orchid

Most of the monkey orchids are just past their best but there are still a few coming up. I used a wide angle to give a sense of place and to show the relative sizes/growth of the plants.
EOS 1D MkIV; EF 16-35 f/2.8 at 21mm; 1/20s; f/16; ISO 200; 3-stop ND Grad
I next went to the other extreme and switched to a telephoto lens and, with the plants being very small, I could position securely with a bean bag (as even a low tripod would have been too tall). The minimum focal distance of the EF500 is 4.5m but by using a 36mm extension tube, I was able to get this down to ~2.6m. The two examples below were taken at a focal distance of ~2.8m. Focusing was effected manually via Live View (10x magnification).

Nice diffuse background whilst retaining good detail in the flower spike.
EOS 1D MkIV; EF 500 f/4; 36mm extension tube; 1/400s; f/6.3; ISO 400
I also wanted to go for a softer, more impressionistic effect. I shot this at f/9 and then applied some softer processing in Photoshop, which I find quite appealing.

EOS 1D MkIV; EF 500 f/4; 36mm extension tube; 1/400s; f/9; ISO 800
Fragrant orchid

Whilst the monkeys are getting towards the end of their flowering season, fragrant are just coming up to their peak time. They are taller, slimmer and more delicate than monkey and therefore far more susceptible to the effects of the wind. I located a few good specimens in the chalk pit near the entrance, where it is reasonably sheltered and took a number of shots with the 500mm and also the 70-200.

The 70-200 has a minimal focal distance of 1.2m so it's not possible to get as close as one can with a macro lens but it's still capable of reasonable shots.

EOS 1D MkIV; EF 70-200 f/2.8 at 150mm; 1/1600s; f/4; ISO 800
EOS 1D MkIV; EF 500 f/4; 36mm extension tube; 1/1250s; f/4; ISO400
EOS 1D MkIV; EF 70-200 f/2.8 at 200mm; 1/800s; f/5; ISO 800
I did take a few sets of images to do some focus stacking and when I've got a bit more time I'll post these for comparative purposes.

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