Messing with Macro: Golden Orb Spider and Mangrove Crab


Golden Orb Spider, Birrawanna Track, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, NSW

Image specs: Olympus E-3, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 200, 100mm with EC-20 2 x teleconverter (200 mm film equivalent), 50mm f2.0 Macro (Zuiko), white balance auto, fill flash (on-camera) with shutter priority, manual focus, vivid mode, hand-held.

If I simply want to travel light and photograph on a day walk, I’ll often carry just my Olympus E-3 SLR with the Zuiko 50mm f2.0 Macro lens attached and get close to nature that way. Getting too close during macro work can occasionally frighten off your live subjects – such as butterflies or small mangrove crabs – as I witnessed on this walk. One solution is to affix the Zuiko EC-20 2 x teleconverter to the 50mm macro giving you a telephoto macro lens – perfect for keeping your distance and still getting in on the action. Telephoto macros are one of my favourite category of lens. I never owned one of the original Olympus OM system (film) 90mm telephoto macros so this is an outstanding digital equivalent.

There is a recommended 2-stop exposure adjustment using this teleconverter but simply keeping your histogram visible by toggling the info button until it is displayed after every shot, enables fine adjustment to be made. The more experienced you get using this system the less adjustment you have to make and therefore fewer shots will be lost due to your fiddling so beware….

Begin by getting familiar with the way a histogram represents different types of exposures: silhouettes, dominant tones and the general exposures that we all use day to day. These image-plus-histogram examples will benefit from diagrams that I hope to explain in a future blog.

This Golden Orb Spider and Mangrove Crab are common along the Birrawanna and Gibberagong Tracks respectively in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park near Turramurra, Sydney. I decided to try the on-camera flash as fill light so adding useful specular highlights to both of them and remove shadow from the subject. This technique I have mentioned in an earlier blog:

Nature detail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP – June 26 2010

The on-camera flash is a very useful tool in the field of macro work in the absence of ring flashes that are made precisely for this purpose. The intensity of light emitted from the flash can be exposure adjusted (+ or – EV) to add additional fill light on your subject. This is useful if you are shooting against bright light (as I was with some of these spider shots – shooting from below against the sky) and the flash lit the spider perfectly.

Mangrove Crab, Gibberagong Track, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, NSW

Image specs: Olympus E-3, f4.0, 1/200, ISO 200, 100mm with EC-20 2 x teleconverter (200 mm film equivalent), 50mm f2.0 Macro (Zuiko), white balance auto, fill flash (on-camera) with shutter priority, exposure compensation -0.3EV, autofocus in live view, vivid mode, hand-held.

In addition to the on-camera flash I could not get my whole body close to the mangrove crab as they were extremely sensitive to the movement of a large human such as myself. They are only a few centimetres across in size and as I was above them, they darted off into their tiny burrows until my shadow disappeared. I decided to use the live view on the E-3 – the live image in the viewfinder is now displayed on the retractable LCD screen. This enabled me to hold the camera at arms length (therefore keeping most of my bulk out of sight) and still manage to compose the subject and shoot with the flash. It is important to set the camera to autofocus in this instance as I could not manually focus (as is my normal preference). Holding this position for any length of time is extremely uncomfortable so getting your settings right beforehand helps enormously.

© Warren Field 2011

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