Make a tiny film in a weekend, sure!

I’m part of a team of improv friends who regularly take part in an annual New Zealand 48hr film competition.  This year’s event was cancelled, but then the organisers did a big “wait, hey” and decided to run a version where everyone is confined to filming in their own houses.  Starting point is a random genre (we got SciFi) and some elements that need to be included, the result has to be between 1 minute and 3 minutes long.  It was, as always, silly stressful mostly fun.   After some distributed filming, shonkily edited together with some bad sci-fi effects, we ended up with a 2 1/2 minutes of weird fly-point of view story.  The “flycam” view totally justifies the shaky camera work.   The actual film can’t be shared anywhere until after the judging in a couple of weeks (there are over 2,000 entries to be officially watched!), but here’s the poster, reusing an old macro photo of mine.

Looking closer . . . closer . . . just a little bit closer!

When a new camera lens arrives you just have to put it on your camera and go take photos.  The only creature in my garden willing to pose for my 20mm Zhongyi  4.5x super macro budget lens was this particularly dozy fly.  Possibly the 160 km hours whipping through town at the moment may have moved on many of the other potential subjects.  I’ll need to do a bit of experimenting . . . but so far I like it.   This shot at ISO 1000, f5.6, 1/200 sec.

Macro fly

Getting flash, on a small scale

One of the basic technical skills I’m trying to wrap my mind around at the moment is how to use off camera flash – old school photographers, working with expensive film, used detailed metering and complex mathematical calculations.  I’m more inclined set everything to manual and play with the dials until it starts to look plausible.    My garden is always a good place to find models, albeit often very tiny ones unwilling to sit still for long.  These were shot using an old film 105mm Nikkor lens with an extension tube that takes it to 1:1 magnification.  Using a flash meant I could set the aperture to F/11 – 15 or so, and (since I was working hand held) keep the shutter speed around 150/sec.   I held the mildly unweildly length of the camera/lens/extension in one hand, and the flash in the other, adjusting the final focus by the simple method of leaning forward or back slightly, and moving the light-holding hand to various angles.




Probably not Beelzebub

fbDSC00552There are at least 240,000 species of flies, the internets tell me, albeit less than half have been properly described. Some varieties are vilified as demonic disease bearing despoilers of all that is clean and good.  This one is, as far as I know, an innocent fly, resting its stylishly grey on grey self on a matching bit of garden furniture.  But it could be a villain.  If I but had the will I might explore this site to it’s bitter buzzy depths.


Technically, f5.6 1/250 sec, ISO 320, focal length 50mm + a 16mm extension tube, whatever that adds up to.  Vintage manual lens Super-Takumar on Sony A6000.  

Photographic expeditions to the end of the deck …

Some summer afternoons you idle away in pleasantly pottering in the garden doing minor tasks and routine chores: washing dogs, planting out seedlings, chasing butterflies with a camera, and when that fails, playing paparazzi with flies.

I say “you”, but maybe probably, it’s just me.

Tomorrow, I’ll try for the beach.  But today . . .

fly on a leaf

Fly on the edge

two flies with orange eyes

Flies with orange eyes

Tomato and fly revisited

With a shiny new computer one of the minor chores this week has been rebuilding my collection of filters and handy-dandy favourite tools.   I love Photoshop, but  another graphics programme I’ve used for more than 10 years is IrfanView , a deceptively simple image manipulator, useful to quickly resize  or rename a folder’s worth of pictures, do quick touchups and cropping on individual pictures, and any number of other essential tasks.    It’s entirely free – but worthy of a Paypal donation.

Irfan even lets you run 8bf filters.   I’ve been rediscovering some old-favourite pattern-makers, the sort of things I use to make background textures and patterns to incorporate into more elaborate Photohshop projects.   The free Mehdi plugins include some lovely effects – today’s images are the result of running some very ordinary pictures (of my first tomatoes of the season, and a fly that happened to land near them) through the Kaleidoscope filter.  It’s fun to play on the border between recognisable-but-strange and completely-abstract.

Tomato kaleidoscope 1

Tomato 1

Tomato pattern

Tomato 2

Fly pattern


Tomatoes and a fly

Yawny starting points

Wildlife portrait photography

I admit, it’s very small wildlife.  These were taken in the garden this afternoon, playing with a new macro lens  on my nearly new camera.   I’m finally getting the whole aperture/depth of field/shutter/iso interactions sorted in my mind, which is just as well since at this scale the tiniest tweak can drastically affect the outcome.

macro wasp

macro snail portrait

They say to always focus on the eyes

macro fly portrait

macro spider portrait