March 28, 2018

Cloudy, 39 Degrees, Calm Wind.

It was a mild, if not exactly uplifting, day to walk in the woods. The mild temperature meant no hat or gloves and a relaxed pace as I made my way around the loop. The clouds kept the mood a little muted, but it was not unpleasant as it was yesterday.

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This is one of the more advanced buds I saw, with leaves visibly opening.

Today, I experimented with my extension tubes on the NEX-7. I am experimenting with them in order to be ready for close-up work as the leaves and flowers of spring come on. Still, right now the buds on the bushes on the upper level of the property are positively tiny.

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Here, you can see how absolutely critical focus is in these tight close-ups. Only the bud at upper right is truly in focus.

The trees have much bigger and more interesting buds, but most of them are out of reach up in the canopy. There are some trees in the neighborhoods and around my house that let me closer, but in the woods they are mostly out of reach.

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This particular bush has new growth (in red) with the buds at the end.

The tiny buds are actually much more visually interesting than I expected. The photographs are attractive because of all the soft backgrounds and sharp buds and branches. Just as with the branches and bark, I love the variety of manifestations of a simple idea.

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Focus, with any of these closeups, is absolutely critical. You really need to take multiple images to be assured of a sharp image. Any movement in your body or in the subject will cause a loss of focus. Sometimes I just focus on the subject and sway gently in and out until things look sharp, then take my shot.

You must also decide what needs to be in focus, as very little will be sharp. Usually the element in the foreground or in the center of the frame is best, but experimentation is a good idea here too.

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I believe the brown growth is from this spring, though I’m really not sure. Any botanists out there who can inform me?

As for the extension tubes, they continue to confuse me a bit. With an extension tube in place, you can’t focus over some part of the range of a lens. I can never remember which way to turn the focus ring to get the images in focus and I’m never sure if I’m the right distance away from my subject to be able to focus anyway.

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These buds on the Maple tree in my back yard are really ripening.

I’m afraid I didn’t resolve my confusion today. I know only that long lenses allow you to stand well off of your subject and still get a closeup. Shorter lenses allow you to get crazy close and take remarkable closeups. I’ll have to do more experimenting in my back yard to resolve things. I will report to you here once I get it full figured out. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, but it’s always given me trouble.

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I included these berries just because they were interesting. They occur only once on my walk.

That’s about it for today. I continue to be fascinated by nature, but skeptical that I will make images that are suitable for a gallery or exhibit. At some point I will have to make peace with this issue. I sure would like to be able to make some income from this work, but I know I would have much more peace if I just explored and documented with my camera. If I make images I can sell, then so be it. If not, then that should be okay as well—except it’s really not okay. At least at this point.

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This matched pair of buds is kind of cool. Is that new growth on which they appear?

This is why I’ve been using the NEX-7 lately…

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