© Geraint Radford and Rob Cottle - Copying, displaying or redistribution of these images without written permission is prohibited
Macro Photography Using The Olympus OM-D EM1 MKii
Macro photography for me is a way of celebrating and showcasing the wonderful, tiny beings that quite often go overlooked.
After a few years of using a full frame DLSR and all sorts of gadgets, I wanted something new that would make my life easier so I can concentrate on the photography, whilst trying to do my beautiful subjects justice.
Having read that a micro four thirds sensor has a crop factor of x2 I was intrigued. This means that for macro photography we can focus on much smaller subjects owing to a magnification ratio of 2:1 vs full frame. This was music to my ears! Gaining magnification without losing light by adding extension tubes sounded rather interesting to this hairy faced hippy so when I was offered the opportunity to try a camera via the Olympus Pro Loan scheme I jumped at it like a spring loaded kangaroo.
Small Hoverfly using in-camera focus stacking
Focus Stacking plays a big part in my photographic approach. When you are working at high magnifications the camera is often quite close to the subject which results in a very shallow depth of field. Stopping the lens down a smidge can help here, but we end up losing vital light and the backgrounds begin to sharpen up which draws attention away from the subject. The image of a small Hoverfly is made up of 8 raw files that are automatically shot in camera. I then processed the files in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The camera gives a Jpeg output of the final image so if this all sounds a bit too much, you can use that!
Meadow Grasshopper - Lit with the Olympus STF-8 Flash
Whilst on the lookout for some butterflies to photograph, I stumbled across this rather nifty Grasshopper clinging to a blade of grass. I popped some extension tubes on the Olympus 60mm macro lens and hooked up the STF-8 flash which would act as the main light source. When using flash with insects I find it best to angle the lights away from the eyes. Not only is this a bit kinder to the bug but the results are usually better because of the extra diffusion. The idea for this picture was to emphasise the dark background therefore exposure was 1/250 and the aperture is around F-8 and a single frame image.
Focus stacking hand held
Mushrooms sure do make awesome subjects!. Not only are they beautiful, they also stay still! The camera is set up on a tripod with a flash unit illuminating the gills. The Em1 MKii was set up to shoot a focus stack of 8 frames with a 1 second delay between each frame to give the flash time to recharge. A cool tip here is to expose for the background and let the flash lift the shadows a little (this is much easier with a live EVF or live view).
On this day I had planned on being out most of the day so the tripod was left at home (as usual, I don't like carting around lots of kit). Thankfully the 5 axis stabilizer in camera works! This 8 frame focus stack is photographed at...wait for it. Wait a bit longer.....ready? Ok! 1/3 of a second for each frame which was then aligned in camera. Nice.
Now back to Bugs ……
How cool are those eyes! Whilst on a day out at Llanelli Wetland Centre I found this Giant Dark Horsefly relaxing on a fence post. This two frame, manual focus stack was achieved by using the focus peaking function that highlights the "in focus" elements in the frame at peak focus. It really helps with aligning the images of a stack so there's no tears before bedtime for Geraint.*Cool Fact Alert* You can tell this is a male because the eyes meet, the ladies have a space between the eyes.
Male Hoverfly with Awesome Compound Eyes
Damselflies are one of my favourite insects (I say that about all of the bugs)
With so much expression and what I think are some pretty cute faces, Damselflies are wonderful beings to photograph. The Olympus 60mm lens and a set of extension tubes get you very close up for a portrait. A big advantage of a micro four thirds set up is the crop factor. Effectively, the focal length of my 60mm lens is 120mm, giving me a bit more working distance and extra depth of field without stopping down and losing light. Remember if you are focus stacking to give a little room to crop the edges later.
I hope you enjoyed this blog, I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts of this equipment with you!
DON'T SWAT! Take a Shot.
I never have or never would trap or refrigerate an insect. There's no need. My recommendation would be to head out early or late in the day when they are naturally colder and will stay still for longer. The risk of damaging a living being, simply to get a picture, just isn't worth it.