Thursday, May 21, 2015

How I take photos out in the field

Gary Williams just asked me how I take photos when I'm out in the field.  Specifically, do I ever use a tripod and/or supplemental, artificial light.  Since I've been asked this before, it might be worth covering in an entry.

I don't like to go to a stream unless the sun is shining brightly.  If there are clouds, I want them to be moving along, and I'll wait for the sun to return.  On occasion I'll use a "ring light" flash for some photos.  But I don't like the results, and for me that's a last resort on cloudy days.

Tripod?  Can't do it.  The insects I photograph are almost always moving around in the petri dish that I use (photos above and below), and I have to keep moving with them.

 When they pause, I quickly focus and shoot, almost always taking multiple shots.  I work to keep the camera as still as I can: taking multiple photos helps to compensate for camera vibration.  Taking photos this way can take a LOT of time, especially when you're dealing with stoneflies (especially Isoperla Perlodids).    They just keep moving 'round and 'round the side of the dish.  Sometimes I yell at them to stop!  (They don't seem to listen.)  Be prepared to wait them out.  You won't get a sharp photo of an insect that's moving.

I use a 60 mm macros lens:  ISO -- 100-200 (after that the quality suffers).  For shutter speed,  I'm usually at 40-80, but 80 requires really bright sunlight.

Taking the photos often takes longer than collecting the bugs.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bob

    One thing you might try is to put the dish on some ice (one of those blue ice packs would work). They move a lot slower when cold.