Tom Pickering  


Boxelder by Tom Pickering

January 2020 - Boxelder

January 2020 - Tom Pickering

Original

About the Image(s)

Specs: Nikon D5000, Tamron 60mm Macro + 66mm extender, F11, 1/1.4s, ISO 200, Tripod, Room Light

This focus stack of 18 images is definitely a work in progress. Have most of the cleanup done, but not sure if I should keep going. Suggestions?


This round’s discussion is now closed!
16 comments posted

Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
(Groups 64 & 95)
Hi Tom,

I wonder what you are planning to work on, it looks fine to me. I like the crop, and the angle. The original beastie was a bit scruffy, but your cleanup and black background are great. The rim lighting on the legs and antennae are particularly nice I think. Has it lost the last section of its right antenna, or is it hidden behind the second (third?) section? The folds in the legs give me a great sense of depth. The simple colour scheme has bags of punch! Great result.   Posted: 01/13/2020 15:29:39
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
As you surmised about the right antenna, it is angled away from the camera.   Posted: 01/13/2020 23:55:48

Dick States   Dick States
This is a Boxelder Bug. They have great colors. I would rather it would have been taken where they hang out in a natural setting. I get the feeling with the legs drawn in underneath it (that's not natural) and with a foot missing and part of the antennae on the right missing the bug was dead. I may be wrong. If I'm right, I'm not a fan of taking pictures of dead critters. Sorry, there's just something not right about this image. It just does not look natural.   Posted: 01/13/2020 18:54:58
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
Yes, alas, this is a deceased boxelder bug. I came upon it while cleaning the windowsill above our bed that always has curtains drawn. I had never captured one, so I thought it a colorful subject to get a macro shot of. Sorry if it offends you, certainly not my intent. I wasn't aware of any rules about insect captures only being live. I don't normally seek out dead things to photograph. d:¬{(   Posted: 01/14/2020 00:03:23
Dick States   Dick States
The image does not offend me at all. That seems to be the buzz word these days. No me. I just know your way better than this. Your work proves that.

The other thing about the Boxelder Bug that's not natural is all the dust and debris covering its body. Insects spend a lot of time every day grooming themselves to stay clean.   Posted: 01/14/2020 12:04:11
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
Poor word choice on my part, for which I apologize. I'll admit to feeling chastised for my subject choice and I wasn't expecting that from you.

Ultimately, my goal with this insect was to be able to study it in a manner I cannot with the naked eye and present it as well as possible with the editing skills I possess. I didn't know if there was any value in pursuing this image further, and thus I opened it up for feedback. This is my understanding of the purpose of these study groups. If you prefer that we do not use dead subjects in this group, be assured I won't do that again.   Posted: 01/14/2020 12:20:35

Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
This is where I've taken this image so far:   Posted: 01/14/2020 13:19:09
Comment Image
Salvador Atance   Salvador Atance
Good work!   Posted: 01/21/2020 14:13:04

Janet DiMattia   Janet DiMattia
Tom,
You did a good job cleaning it up. Most often to really get a good look at a small nature subject is to photo it for your own use as you did here.
Changing the background to black was a good decision.
I have never seen a Boxelder bug so it caught my attention.
Janet
  Posted: 01/20/2020 08:58:29
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
Thanks, Janet. These bugs are a major nuisance around here (midwest), showing up at the end of summer. They are very good at making their way into homes.   Posted: 01/21/2020 14:19:38

Salvador Atance   Salvador Atance
The first thing I noticed was the apparent lack of bright of its eyes.
Interesting animal, the final photography you got represents a very good change from the first you hang and even more from the original.
I like the way you present it going up from the left side of the bottom edge. Definetly the black background add interest to the view.
The work of taking 18 shots to get all this DoF was worth it. Congratulations.   Posted: 01/21/2020 14:24:02
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
Thank you, Salvador!   Posted: 01/21/2020 14:32:07

Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
Wow-what a discussion! Tom, I don't think anyone's choice of photographic subjects should be criticized, unless it something like pornography. I think is is a great photo. I like the angle, and I found all the white dust, or whatever it is, to be interesting. I love the texture you captured on the body and antennae. Now that I know it was dead, I see that maybe the last joint of the right antenna is gone. I also note the lack of brightness in the eyes. But the texture and colors you captured are amazing.

And excuse my stupidity, but what is stacking, if you have time to answer?   Posted: 01/27/2020 20:03:43
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
(Groups 53 & 86 & 95)
I suppose I over-reacted to Dick's comment.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments about my image and freedom of expression.

Stacking, which is short for focus stacking, involves taking a series of images where each image is focused deeper into the subject. These images are then “stacked” together, revealing the in-focus parts of each image merged together into one image. Another way to look at it is a series of slices of the subject that are then assembled together into the whole subject.

This is done because getting so close to a subject, like the boxelder bug in this case, results in a very shallow DOF. In order to capture everything in focus, a single image will have some areas out of focus. The best solution we have is to take several images, each focused a little closer to the subject, so that, when assembled in Photoshop or another piece of software like Helicon Focus, every part of the subject will be in focus.

I hope my explanation makes a little sense. I'm sure Dick can explain it better.   Posted: 01/27/2020 23:44:04
Dick States   Dick States
Tom has explained it very well, there's not much I can add. Focus stacking allows the photographer to take advantage of using the lens where it has the sharpest aperture but shallow DOF, usually somewhere around f-8 depending on the lens. This prevents diffraction of the lens which will cause the image to not be as sharp as it could be usually around the edges. Focus stacking works well when you have a large subject and its not possible to have a sharp image due to the shallow DOF. Landscape photographers will sometimes use focus stacking which allows them to shoot foreground, middle ground and background say at f-8 and put the three images together into a sharp image from near to far without diffraction. Using a tripod is a must.   Posted: 01/28/2020 09:18:41

Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
Also - my son is an artist and in a tenure-track position teaching at Pratt Institute. We have had many discussions about freedom of expression in art. I, as a lawyer, think it's a constitutional right. So I support your decision to take a beautiful photo and make it much better than it started out, no matter the subject. As long as it's not pornography or something else (I think the Supreme Court decision said something like "I'll know it when I see it.").   Posted: 01/27/2020 22:45:57