Insects to Photograph?

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Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:26 pm

Where is a good place on the west side of Cleveland or the west suburbs to find interesting insects to photograph (butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, etc.)?

At one time I'd see a lot of interesting stuff around the house, but not in the last couple of years. Even house spiders have been few and far between.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby kcclark » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:31 pm

I asked a guy whose east side insect pictures have impressed me. He recommended Bradley Woods and said to take the trail through the old quarry.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby Brian D. » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:02 pm

Nice to know you continue to have a photography...bug, Deanimator.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby WestonDon » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:45 pm

Thus begins the search for the elusive Lake Erie shutterbug. :P
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby Beekeeper » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:36 am

Check out Cleveland Metroparks. Plenty of insects to photograph right now. What camera are you shooting with? I use Canon 7D Mark II with a 100mm/2.8 IS for my macro shots.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby glocksmith » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:03 am

If Deanimator lived closer, I'd invite him into my house...plenty of weird insects to photograph here :?
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:34 pm

A couple from my parking lot on the 15th:
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:41 pm

kcclark wrote:I asked a guy whose east side insect pictures have impressed me. He recommended Bradley Woods and said to take the trail through the old quarry.

Thanks.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:46 pm

Beekeeper wrote:Check out Cleveland Metroparks. Plenty of insects to photograph right now. What camera are you shooting with? I use Canon 7D Mark II with a 100mm/2.8 IS for my macro shots.

I was down in the valley about a month ago. I got some god images, including of ducks, but didn't see any insects worth a picture.

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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby kcclark » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:12 am

I try to find point and shoots that can compete with your macro shots but I've yet to find one that can. Someday I have to spend the $ for a dSLR and the macro lens.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:59 am

kcclark wrote:I try to find point and shoots that can compete with your macro shots but I've yet to find one that can. Someday I have to spend the $ for a dSLR and the macro lens.

My recommendation for a beginning macro photographer:
  1. Buy a used DSLR body from a reputable online dealer. I already had a Canon EOS 350D which I'd been using, but wanted to upgrade to live view and more resolution. I bought a used Canon T4i from Adorama. It was in as good or better condition than described.
  2. Buy an old manual 35mm or 50mm prime lens and a reversing ring. This will allow you to manually set the aperture, something not easily done with an auto lens.
  3. Buy a cheap set of manual extension tubes. Combined with the manual lens and reversing ring, you'll get good magnification.
  4. Buy a manual flash. I have a good ETTL Sigma flash, but it's not necessary for macro. A decent manual flash will do what you need. You'll just need to learn to set it through trial and error. I recommend the $70 Flashpoints from Adorama. Get a store bought flash diffuser or make your own from online instructions. I tried the latter, and finally punted and bought an 8"x12" Neewer diffuser off Amazon for next to nothing.
Later, if you decide you like macro, you can buy an actual macro lens. I have a 100mm Tokina. It gives excellent quality for the money and allows you to maintain a reasonable working distance from the subject, so it doesn't fly away or attack you.

If you're interested in studio macro, you'll definitely need a tripod. Don't listen to the nonsense about how you need a $1,000 tripod. Unless you're hiking through Nepal or the Amazon with it, it only needs to be stable and easy to use. I recently bought a Vanguard Alta Pro. It's a great tripod, especially for outdoor macro. I don't actually use it indoors, not because I don't like it, but because my apartment is such a pit, you can see visible movement of the camera relative to the subject when you shift your weight from one foot to the other. I eventually mounted a ballhead directly to the table.

If you want to do "focus stacking" where you combine images into one completely in focus image, you have two ways to go.

I started with a cheap set of Chinese focusing rails off of eBay. They're not terribly precise, but they're good enough. They're perfect for achieving critical focus, but are a chore for stacking more than a few images. I coupled them with an Android tablet and the app DSLR Controller. It allows you to use a tablet connected to do focus stacking. You set the initial focus point using the software, focus out to the farthest point, then tell the app to take exposures, working back to the starting point. It calculates how big, and how many steps it needs (which can be overridden). Once you start it, you can walk away while the software changes the focus on your automatic lens and makes the shot. Once you learn it, it's pretty easy.

The other method is to use an automated macro rail like a Stackshot or a We-macro. This is the expensive way to go, but allows you to use ANY kind of optical setup, from just a reversed manual lens, to a a lens on bellows, to a microscope lens. That's my ultimate goal, but it's a long way off.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby kcclark » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:22 pm

I do macro all the time but my pics cannot compete with you because I don't own the good stuff. Thank you for the suggestions. I looked into the T4i last night after I saw what you used. Canon 40D is one I've been thinking about for a while but the macro lens is what busts my budget. Already own at least 3 tripods.

I bought an Olympus TG-3 because it does focus stacking and a light ring was an option. Works pretty well but not as well as I was hoping for.
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Re: Insects to Photograph?

Postby deanimator » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:47 am

kcclark wrote:I do macro all the time but my pics cannot compete with you because I don't own the good stuff. Thank you for the suggestions. I looked into the T4i last night after I saw what you used. Canon 40D is one I've been thinking about for a while but the macro lens is what busts my budget.

Look at the Tokina 100mm macro.

I did a lot of research into macro lenses before I bought mine.

The Tokina gets excellent reviews and is significantly cheaper than the Canon 100mm macros.

A lot of people think it offers the best cost to performance ratio, and that's been my experience.

Here's a manual stack of 33 images I shot last night using that lens on top of a full set of ProMaster extension tubes.
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