Merced Camera Club, Getting The Picture
Getting The Picture

This is a monthly (or so) feature of our site, in which Merced Camera Club members provide their thoughts
about the creation of some of our favorite images.

June, 2010

"Baby Blue Eyes" -Robert Dayton

How itís done:

When photographing off of a tripod becomes drudgery, I enjoy resorting to a technique that I learned from the late Mary Ellen Shultz. She obtained beautiful closeup/macro images of flowers by using one or more extension tubes with a 50 mm macro lens. In so doing she was able to hand hold because she had a shallow depth of field and a very fast shutter speed. The result was often something ethereal and often abstract, perhaps not even recognizable as a flower but nevertheless, pretty.

Consequently, I often stop along a quiet, lonely road and crawl into a ditch full of wildflowers. To keep from having harsh light I open my diffusion screen with a two foot diameter and crawl under it. The screen softens the light, but allows enough to pass through that I can still use a fast shutter speed.

Then the fun part starts. I call it "wet belly" photography. I inch along on my stomach with my eye behind the eyepiece pushing through the flora and muck. To achieve some degree of sharpness. I only need to push off from my toes a little or nudge forward, backward or sideways on my elbows until I say, "Wow"! That's it. I click the shutter.

To limit depth of field, I shoot at a large aperture (f2.8, for this shot), and set the camera to aperture priority. To eliminate motion blur, I use this rule of thumb -- make sure that the reciprocal of the shutter speed is equal to, or greater than the total focal length of the lens (50 mm) and extension tubes (in this case, two times 25 = 50 mm more). For 100 mm of lens plus tubes, the shutter speed should be 1/100 or faster. Because of the shallow depth of field, I have a nice wash of color in the background.

There's something else that might make one say something other than "Wow". Beware of coming face to face with a "buzztail" (rattlesnake). If that should happen, take quick and careful aim, and spit some tobacco juice in its eye. Rumor has it that Rocky the Rattler hates that.

Location: Merced River Canyon
Canon 10D camera
50 mm macro lens, plus two 25 mm extension tubes
Hand held
Exposed for 1/100 second at f2.8, ISO 100
A little post-processing to enhance saturation and sharpness

The Birdie

Getting The Picture Archives

"Patriotism," Tom Frazier