by Sean Setters
I took a shot yesterday that I thought looked interesting, so I thought we'd have a little fun with it today.
Can you guess what the subject of the photo is? You can click on the image above to download a higher resolution version for analysis. Then scroll down for the answer.
It's the seed head of a grass plant.
I really wanted to create a macro focus stack image, but I was having a difficulty coming up with an idea for an interesting subject.
As I often do when I'm experiencing a mental block for a macro subject, I strolled around my lawn to see what I could find.
It had been raining off and on in Savannah, GA for several days, so I hadn't been able to mow the lawn in quite some time.
Some of the grass had gotten very tall, and one such plant drew my attention.
I marveled at the plant's seed head as I inspected it closely, and decided my search for a macro subject was complete.
Now onto the photography bit.
I attached stacked Kenko extension tubes
and a Kenko 1.4x Teleconverter
to my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
and mounted it all onto my EOS 5D Mark III
(tripod mounted, of course).
Two studio strobes were already set up in my studio with one firing through a 4 x 6' (1.2 x 1.8 m) and a 3' x 8" (0.9 x 0.2 m) gridded stripbox, so I simply used those for lighting.
A bottle provided a nice stand for the stem the grass plant.
I originally shot it without a background which caused the background to be completely black.
However, while the light colored part of the seed head stood out very well, the black portions (unsure what their name is), understandably, did not.
So, I searched my home for something that might provide a suitable background color for the subject (I didn't expect to see recognizable details in the macro shot because of the limited depth-of-field and camera-to-subject and subject-to-background distance).
I found my answer donning the wall of our kitchen – a calendar someone had given us for Christmas.
I attached the calendar to a backlight stand
via a reflector holder
and positioned the calendar so that the pictured flowers were directly behind the seed head.
So here's what the setup looked like:
And here's a closeup with the flashes illuminating the subject:
I captured 36 images with the Focus Stack feature of Magic Lantern (installed on the 5D III) which were compiled in Helicon Focus
. EXIF settings for the individual images were f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 100.
After compiling the images in Helicon Focus and a little bit of editing in Photoshop CC
, I arrived at the image below.
At this point, I was pretty happy with the image.
But as I as I began to look at it in detail, the black parts of the seed head reminded me of trees.
With that in mind, I rotated the image so that the stalk portion of the seed head was horizontal and cropped it so that the other half of the stalk (and the mirrored portion of the seed head) would remain unseen.
Unfortunately, I didn't give myself enough leeway in the original framing to allow for the background to cover the entire frame at such an extreme angle of rotation.
Therefore, I had to recreate the background (using content aware fill) in the areas where no background existed.
But after that, the image you see atop this post was finished.
For what it's worth, I'm consistently amazed by the details found in readily available (very common) subjects that await capture with a macro lens
and (sometimes) the higher magnification made possible by extension tubes and teleconverters.
From Pelican (thanks Trent):
TORRANCE, CA – May 30, 2018
– Pelican Products, Inc. (Pelican), the global leader in the design and manufacture of high performance protective cases, has assumed exclusive control of the TrekPak brand, along with all production, sales and marketing for this innovative divider system. The TrekPak system provides the ultimate organization and protection as an interior solution for a wide variety of applications for your Pelican cases. The new agreement allows Pelican to extend the TrekPak dividers across a broader range of Pelican’s cases, including the Pelican Air, Protector Case and Storm Case lines.
In 2016, Pelican began distributing TrekPak dividers as a new configuration in 6 of their most popular sizes. Today, Pelican offers TrekPak dividers in 18 case sizes, with plans to extend the divider system to most case models. Additionally, customers are now able to purchase the TrekPak divider system as an accessory, as well as a case configuration, directly and exclusively from Pelican.
TrekPak first introduced the divider system in 2012 as an aftermarket case accessory, recognizing the need for a modular solution that organizes and protects equipment inside Pelican cases. Users across multiple industries soon adopted the design as the premium alternative to foam or padded dividers in their cases. “Pelican continues to set the standard for protection and transportation across a variety of industries,” said Georgia Hoyer, Founder of TrekPak.
“Pelican looks forward to bringing new innovative TrekPak solutions for various applications to market soon and continuing to enhance our customer experience when it comes to protecting all that you value” stated John Luna, Director of Product Management for Pelican.
Pelican case authorized retailers: B&H
For a long time, our always-current Canon Lens Recommendations
pages have been very popular and long on my to-do list has been to create recommendations pages for Canon cameras.
While I still have several recommendation categories to add and refinements will be ongoing, the Canon Camera Recommendations
page is now live.
Hopefully you can send your friends to these pages for answering their "Which camera should I get?" questions.
To find the link, look under the "Recommendations" main tab.
Let us know if you disagree with any recommendations and also let us know if you think a model should be added to one of the categories.
Want to make sure I have considered a category you want to see?
Please share that also!
From the Harvard Business Review
by Shigeki Ichii
He [Masashi Oka, CFO] asked one former major investor for a reaction to the company’s prediction (accompanying poor quarterly results): “that the [current] market contraction will bottom out soon and our profits will improve.” The reply he got was like a cold shower: “Management is delusional about their long-term prospects,” said the investor, adding, “Every time we meet … it truly shocks me how far behind it is and how slow they have been to grasp the trends of the industry.”
The company took note and duly committed to reducing costs at a rate exceeding market contraction.
Six months later, with Nikon’s prospects looking much brighter, it was time to check in with investors.
Their responses, like Nikon’s fortunes, had reversed course.
The very same former major investor who had previously described Nikon’s management as “delusional” had now changed its tune.
“I am very impressed with the bold actions you have taken thus far, and I look forward to monitoring your progress from here.
It sounds like Nikon will be a very different company five years from now—at a minimum a much more profitable one.”
The new attitude was reflected in the company’s share price: One year into its transformation, Nikon’s stock price had risen by 35%.
Read the entire article on the Harvard Business Review