Lockdown continues and while I was tempted to capture more images of the birds visiting the feeders in my garden, I felt it might be more productive to learn something new, and try a technique I had been considering for years now, after meeting and becoming friends with Oliver Wright. Now if you haven't seen Oliver's work, check it out on his website (here) and dive into some of the macro images he's captured.
Some of you will be thinking, hang on Pete, you've done loads of macro already. And you'd be correct, but all such images were from one single shot. With macro, the depth of field is so narrow, that bright conditions are needed to capture details, using a small aperture. Even then, using perhaps f11 for images, only a small portion of a subject might be in focus.
What Oliver does, is stack images. There are loads of other macro photographers out there that do this of course, but what appealed to me from his brief demonstration to me, was that he does it hand-held, without any tripod or slider, so it'd be something I could potentially do when out and about. Summer for example can be a time when birds seem to vanish during long stretches of the day, or perhaps the light is too harsh or heat-haze is killing focus on other opportunities, and has been a time in previous years when I have turned my attention to the invertebrates around where I am standing.
So with lockdown in force, I grabbed my Canon 7d mk2, 100mm f2.8 IS macro lens, extension tubes and headed out into the garden. The pond is a hive of activity most of the time, and I have photographed the small wolf spiders that hunt on its fringes before, but now I was trying something new. Didn't take long to locate one, so now it was down to me putting into practice what I had seen Oliver doing several times before.
Post processing stacks of images is in itself quite fun. There's a procedure for it, which might seem daunting at first, but is actually dead easy, and PhotoShop does all the work for you.
I decided to help others learn this skill by writing an article on my website, and it can be seen here:
Pete Walkden Photography - Focus Stacking
And some of the results from recent sessions can be seen below.
One unexpected bonus I found yesterday when crouched down low in the overgrown or "wild" section of my garden yesterday was the presence of birds, also looking for invertebrates. Whilst I looked, I had a very close encounter from a willow warbler, and then moments later a dunnock hopped by. Raised a smile to see so close.
Let me know if you have any questions on this technique, either in the comments section here, or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lastly, for anyone interested in finding out about macro photography in general, before going on to tackle this technique, please take a look at this great article below:
Pixpa - Macro Photography - A Complete Guide