Weekly #486 -- Macro and close-ups Competition

Competition Details
Closing Date: 06/11/2016
Judge: davidwozhere

Ah - you thought it would be Bonfire night! I'd like to encourage you to try some close ups -- macro if you have the kit but not at all necessary. Find which lens focusses the closest, stick a 50mm on the wrong way round, get the extension tubes and bellows out. Tripods are useful, as are live view and 2 sec delay. I'm not looking for the most microscopic dainty bits but good composition and good handling of depth of field. Choice of subject is near limitless !
(I'm at a conference all weekend and don't know what time I shall be back Sunday so judging might be on Monday)
Have a good week ........ David
Competition Entries


Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 17:57
Autumn Trap by Radijsje
A wonderful idea and good observation to find a leaf curled into a spring. Focus on the leaf and its intricate detail is spot on but I find myself constantly drawn away to the large grey area on the right. Perhaps a more severe crop to the central portion might produce a better result?

Unusual 1950s Plasma Night Light by MikeinDevon
It is certainly that and I like your success in capturing the glowing plasma and of keeping the whole element focussed. A clear globe on a grey(ish) bacground presents problems too. It's a technical success story as an image, complete with high ISO to enable that smaller aperture and greater d.o.f. But you were caught by the wish to show off the technology, which limited the artistic impact of the necessarily bland backdrop.

Ladybird byPaulb531
Six legged perfection with every last detail displayed. The square frame is presenting the foliage shapes to their best and the beetle is placed just so, along with unobtrusive extra detail such as the water drops. Must have been very bright to get that f9 at ISO100 but the focal plane is bang on and no more.

Golden Spectre! By Drofmit
Beautifully captured, beautifully isolated with lovely bokeh and the detail is stunningly pin sharp. And, somewhat unavoidably, so is that of the grass seed heads which compete fiercely for one's attention oh why didn't it choose a bare twig to alight upon?

House by johnriley
What a sad story, especially as the original maker put so much effort into its creation. That effort is wonderfully portrayed here with not a detail left unrecorded. Flash would not have been kind to it and the long, natural light exposure leaves the shadows just so. It certainly leaves a good impression of what the Pentax Q can produce in the right hands. From a pictorial point of view, perhaps there is a bit too much rug in the foreground? A 'letterbox' crop might work a bit better?

Hello David by Noelcmn
Well, that doesn't lack impact does it? And what a wonderful expression on its face! The face is clearly its most attractive(!) feature and will be the focal object but this leaves a large surround which is necessarily blurred by the huge aperture you used. You could have taken the ISO considerably higher without excessive noise, much of which would have been masked by the bodily details anyway. This would have demanded a smaller aperture, which would have brought a lot more into focus. Or, perhaps, homing in on that 'angelic' face, with a crop may have solved the O.O.F. part?

I'm on top by Ken2390
Colourful, attractive and a nice group of objects, all round. The composition would have benefitted by cropping a bit off the bottom and adding a bit to the top. Every detail of this group, including the stone texture and the moss is beautifully crisp but then one's eye is grabbed by the blue thing in the distance. I think we have all included an unintended O.O.F. annoyance at some point but this one could easily have been cloned out.

Life's a long song by conexus
A wonderful story, told absolutely convincingly by one glance at this dramatic portrayal. It just hits you with its simple dignity. I'm sure it was an opportunistic capture and therefore subject to all manner of uncontrollable factors but it is out of focus in quite a few key dimensions. Were it not for this, it would have won, hands down.

Drop on a Violet by klawinski
A very well focussed trio of things found in the centre of a violet. The droplet exudes the surface texture/ tension of the water; the pollen is softly detailed; the purple style and stigma are clearly defined. Unfortunately, these three items are ferociously competing for our attention, the more so given their very different textures and appearances. Making any one of them dominant and the other two subservient would have solved the problem.

First frost on fern leaves by ramiot
Compositionwise, the main subject is near perfectly positioned in the frame and its lateral symmetry is very pleasing. Where the frost sparkles, all is well but was it sparkling just as well on the bit at the very front? I suspect it was but you had to choose which part to focus on, leaving that very distracting blurred bit at the front. It was probably a bit dim down there but you could have pushed the ISO to at least 400, or even 800, which would have allowed you to stop down considerably more. Alternatively, making the front part the focal point may have solved it too.

Butterfly by Simonmac
The King of Birmingham architecture has a rural side! This is a gorgeous image of a small tortoiseshell which is (almost) in complete focus. I note that you used a very large aperture so a lot of the foregoing comments apply. Had it all been there, that fantastic bokeh would have swung the balance as this image stood out from the thumbnails, along with Life's a Long Song.

Eyes on the weather by mikeprotts
Great observation to spot this pair (no pun intended). As you doubtless discovered it is a right caper trying to get the focus right and you were doubly challenged by them hanging on a flat piece of glass. You can't get a much more capable macro lens than the one you have used so we have to conclude that the glass window pane is the limiting factor on the sharpness here. You don't say if it was on a tripod or handheld if the latter, that's a pretty good result.

The Fly by snakey
Wow. It looks just like a rally car revving for the off. The focus is tack sharp and smacked into crisp relief by the use of the flash but there appears to have been no sort of fill-in lighting which results in highly detailed (and well exposed) highlights on the raised areas in the path of the flash beam and stygian darkness everywhere else. The detail in these areas might have been retrieved by use of post processing but the lack of that detail slightly compromises (for me) a very dramatic image.

Open Heart Aberration by JAK
Great title and strapline. You've removed the PF alright - by blasting it with a full-frontal ring flash. These things have a reputation for producing very 'flat' images since they light everything so evenly and this one is a good example. I'm guessing that it's a hydrangea flower, which have an exceedingly complex system of raised veins (these often survive the rotting of the main parts of the petal). They can just about be made out whereas they would have been thrown into high relief with some form of cross lighting.

Phantom Midge Larva by coker
This series of images has been a wonderful demonstration of what is achievable so I am slightly puzzled why this particular one was chosen? The composition seems slightly wrong with the whole subject placed on the top third but offset to the left so that its head doesn't reach the right vertical third but that blurred bright spot near its tail is nearer the left 'sweet spot', to where one's attention keeps being pulled. The detail on its head and shoulders remains stunning, as we have come to expect.

Time Machine by GlynM
Detail, detail, detail from top to bottom. And an uncropped, original framing. Now, do I go for a purist approach which would demote the use of focus-stacking in the face of a conventional contender that achieved near equal depth of focus? Or do I award Pixel Points for the extra technical work involved in preparing the component images? Ouch. You've given me a Gordian Knot here without a doubt and I can't cleave this one in two.

Large White Butterfly by mudge
Perfectly focused and with exquisite detail throughout, I would have preferred a slightly looser cropping that admitted more of what appears to be a very pleasing bokeh behind the subject. And that's my sole complaint the tight crop.

Bee on a Sunflower by tyronet2000
Sunflowers (and the odd dandelion) seem to blast their visitors with deep yellow light which sets off their bodily details wonderfully well as can be seen on the wing and rear abdomen of this bee. Trouble is, it also shows up the front part which isn't quite focussed. The resulting imbalance is heightened by the receding body of the flower so that we get an image of two halves. I'm sure it wasn't helped by the bee skipping about, as they do. Would that the bottom right was as sharp as the top left!

Dewy web by johnjm
Without any EXIF details to help it becomes more difficult to comment here. For example, I don't know the capabilities of the lens used. The entire web is a most intricate one but at this level of 'zoom' there is little detail. However, I see several areas of it that would repay specific work, such as the strong diagonal that splits into two at lower left and the bigger globules left of frame. There is huge, undeveloped potential here that is worth exploring.

Peacock by Perspicador
I am having trouble figuring this one out. From front to back: the tips of the antennae are in focus, as are the legs, the underwing detail and the age-worn trailing edges of the wings. The front edge of the piece of wood is in sharp focus too which indicates more than adequate stopping down. The creature's head and face, however, are barely distinguishable when they ought to be pin sharp.
It's probably the camera trying to account for the bright white wood and underexposing accordingly?

Spring Onions by kh1234567890
It's a close-up verging upon a macro so it fits the bill but I feel it is trying too hard to be both at once. It is technically near perfect but, like the water drop and violet the various components are fighting for prominence, thus we are looking at the onions with their stems or examining the roots when the stems tear our gaze away once more. The equipment is more than capable of concentrating (for example) on that interesting hooked root or the curiously rounded-over root ends.

So which one? Paul's ladybird or Glyn's watch?
I can't pick both so, since I am a traditionalist, It's Paul!
Then Glyn,
closely followed by Simon for his tortoiseshell
and a whacking great commendation to Life's a long song

Thank you all for giving me a hard time and a great contest
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

My page on Photocrowd - link


Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 18:15
Thank you David for the place. And congratulations to Paul and Glyn and Conexus.

The entries were great and your comments are very encouraging!

I might try and take some more!

All the best



Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 18:58
Great shot for a winner, though I appreciate the conundrum that you were in between the winning image and that of Glyn's. Congrats Paul, worthy winner. And extended to Glyn and Simonmac, and that delectable shot from Conexus. Thanks for a great challenge and comments, as always appreciated. And great shots from everyone.


Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 19:17
Many thanks David for a great competition, a fantastic set of reviews and what must have been some very difficult judging.

Lots of thanks also for awarding my time machine shot the coveted 2nd place . I fully support your decision to award Paul the winning place. It is one thing to achieve a decent shot in studio like conditions of a static subject but so much, much, harder to achieve this outside, under pressure, knowing that your subject could move on at any moment.

Congratulations to Paul, for the excellent, beautifully crafted, winning image, and to Simon and Conexus joining me as runner-ups. Congratulations also to everyone else for another wonderful set of pictures.

Last Edited by GlynM on 07/11/2016 - 19:28


Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 20:29
Many thanks David for the competition and analysis. I thought this week produced some great images well done to Glyn and Simon. As ever chuffed to have won as I don't consider macro as my strong point. I bought a cheap manual Japanese ring flash and played about with the settings.




Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 21:22
Congratulations to the winner and others. Thanks to david for the interesting subject the judging and the comprehensive comments.



Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 22:01
What an enjoyable competition, super images, great winner and helpful comments.



Link Posted 07/11/2016 - 22:40
Thanks for the analysis.


Link Posted 08/11/2016 - 02:15
Thanks for the comments, you were absolutely right it was a quick capture and the fraying wings just did it for me why won't they stay still!
Mike Court
K3, K7, 12 Pentax-17 pentax18-250, pentax50-135 2.8, tamron 16 - 70 2.8 18-55, pentaxc 50-200,pentax 50mm1.7,metz flash bowens 500 and studio stuff
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