Macro lens magic (and some mushrooms)

Well, I think it’s magic.

And cool.

And hiking up a trail and shooting creeks and little lakes and mushrooms makes me happy. As does finding dew-covered dandelions and other typical Canuckistani scenes…

Cobbling together rodeo photos with the “wrong” lenses

Before leaving home on my current odyssey, I knew that I would be going without my favourite lens, the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. As one user described it, “This Nikon lens … is an excellent combination for capturing everything from the action at a sporting event to beautiful images of a family against the sunset or a young couple in love.” Another gushed, “… colour, contrast, and bokeh are all outstanding, with good sharpness at 2.8 … The lens is a joy to use, quick and responsive … I’ve made great shots handheld at 1/15 seconds, which I never thought would be possible.”

For the last few years it’s been my go-to lens. Fortunately I’m happy to improvise – learnt over several years working in experiential education. Within my first week in Canuckistan I already had to figure out how to shoot the fast-moving action of a rodeo from the bleachers – too far for my wide-angle and 50mm lenses. I tried getting closer to the action by climbing onto the broadcast company’s scaffolding right next to the arena, but was chased off in no time. I name-dropped to get myself a good vantage point at ground level, but I still needed more zoom than my 105mm macro could give me for some of the shots. And so, for much of the action, I used the 1.7x teleconverter with my macro, to give me an effective 178.5mm lens – not a typical combination for this type of photography.

Three years ago, shooting at the same rodeo (with my 70-200) I revelled in all the opportunities to practice “panning” – following the subject on its plane of motion with the camera, shooting at very slow shutter speeds, giving me a relatively sharp subject with a blurred background. This gives the shot a feeling of movement, grace and speed.

Unfortunately, with the fixed focal length, I couldn’t zoom at all if the action came towards me. Secondly, I had to quickly change settings in order to “freeze” the motion in those types of shots. All in all, I was pleased with the results though!

Without further ado then, here are a few of my favourite photos.

Dissecting a dandelion at sunset

They say photographers are always in search of the perfect light. This evening I had just finished shooting the city from the hills to its south, and was walking back to my car, when I came across a dandelion. Now I know I’ve shot dandelions a bit lately, but the light was indeed perfect – with the sun setting golden through the trees.

Amazing too how one can change the colour just by shooting towards the sky, the grass, the trees or the sun…

(Click on images)


Shooting while broken

So, at around noon today I broke a bone in my wrist while trying to Rollerblade. It turns out I should stick to two wheels and not eight because I caught a speed wobble while careening down a potholed road, fell and cracked the lunate carpal bone in my left wrist. It’s not serious, but holding a camera with an arm in plaster can be tricky. Or so I imagined.

Of course I had to make sure that I could still shoot. I have a wedding to do next weekend and why should a little broken bone with a fancy name hold me back. Here are the results from early afternoon and late evening …

(Click on images)


A soggy walk in a melting forest

The weather has been unseasonably warm recently. Where we should be wading through feet of snow, most of what had fallen earlier in November has steadily been melting away.

On Saturday afternoon I went for a walk in the forest up behind Oak Avenue with my macro lens as company. It was cold, damp and grey but I still found a few beautiful subjects to shoot.