Ol’ Man Fly

Portrait of a flyThe task for my photography course this week was a studio-style portrait of a fly.  So, substituting a piece of paper and the patio table for an actual studio, here’s my version of “a fly with character”.

Currently I have a Sony A6000, a mirroless camera, which means any old film camera lenses (as well as most manual digital lenses) just need an adapter to work.    It is always a slight gamble buying via auction sites, and something never recommended by people who work for camera stores, but most of the time you get a pretty good deal – at least I haven’t yet encountered any of the dreaded fungus-raddled lenses that camera neophytes are warned about yet.  Annnyway,  I am rather enjoying this new second-hand Nikon macro lens, a Micro-Nikkor 105mm.  It should work nicely for human scale portraits too.

Technical details f8, 1/250 sec, ISO 150, focal length 105mm (157.5mm in 35mm film terms), with 26mm of extension tubes.

Analogue poster : challenged by the force

Empire Strikes Back posterIt was a strange experience and I felt like a time traveller, actually drawing on paper to make a poster.

The Empire Strikes Fast is an energetic fan-pastiche stage show of the scifi classic, happening May the 4th (uh, details on the poster, if you happen to be in Wellington, New Zealand, that Monday).  I was asked for a speedy image featuring the dark lord, hand drawn and hand lettered “by tomorrow if possible”.  Challenge accepted!  I even used a dip pen, just to take it all a little further up the absurdity curve, as my slightly higher-tech technical pens proved in need of some serious maintenance after not being used for a couple of years.  Once I started scribbling it was hard to stop, although the lack of an undo key was a little hard to adjust to.

I cheated of course, working out the layout in Photoshop first, and beefing up the colouring in Photoshop afterwards, but it was rather fun going old-school for the key parts of executing an image.

Next task is creating some props for the shows, beginning with a wampa-ish creature to menace our hero.

Spider vs Fly – the denouement

Spider and fly are about the same size, and the fly managed to shred the web and nearly pulled free – but fangs are out, and the fly is about to lose all.    The challenge here was the light, as the web was in front of a window and reflections caused all sorts of problems.  Also, the web was vibrating wildly (of course), which at macro distance meant that focus was difficult.

fangs out

Technical details: 1/500sec, f/8, iso 400, focal length 55mm + 16mm extension tube and a ring light.

Tigers and raindrops

During the summer my local zoo occasionally stays open late.  This week was the last time for the season, but a gentle ramble with friends was cut short by an amazing (if brief) rain storm.   All animals ran for cover, and so did most humans.  At the same time the sun was setting behind me, half covered by clouds, and the light was pleasingly strange.

203-4 Ali-Little

Still, at least one tiger posed nicely before the rain arrived – she is in heat, I was told, and certainly seemed verrry interested in the adjacent male tiger enclosure.   He in turn watched her every head toss and tail flick with a clearly fake nonchalance.


The Leap – Getting arty at the Island Bay fair

My challenge for today was to catch the idea of “motion” in an abstract sort of image.  This is a child leaping about in one of those bungy swing contraptions at a local street fair.   There was only a narrow angle of view where I could frame a shot to have just the child in it against the grey sky and not a messy background tangle of cords, struts, and the garish awnings of surrounding stalls.  I was very happy when there was a somersault in just the right place, and rather like the watercolour-painting look to the image.

Child sumersaulting

Details : 1/20 sec f/22 iso 100 135mm (202mm in 35mm film terms), a vintage Asahi Super-Takumar lens on Sony A6000.  

Zoo at twilight

I live near a small zoo, whose leafy paths make for a pleasant evening stroll.

My challenge tonight was to use just one manual lens of a fixed focal length.  This meant all interesting creatures more than a few metres away or those moving at any speed were not going to get captured.   There could be no classic watch-meerkat-on-a-rock shot against the sky tonight, no red panda in the trees, no jumping monkeys (just trust me, they were very cute), and entire animal kingdoms who remained at the back of their enclosures could not be photographed.

On the other hand, having to take the time to frame and focus each shot probably improved the ones I did take.   Except for the kiwi: my camera isn’t quite up to taking photos in the dark (or rather, the very red light has odd effects on the sensor), but it was still lovely to see a kiwi close up and active.

Shot with an A6000, and a Super-Takumar 50mm/f1.4 lens, mostly with the lens wide open.