Monday, July 25, 2011

An Old Dog's New Tricks

Before anything else, Prayers for Norway! My heart goes out to our old and new friends there....

Ironically, this is the image I had queued for my Shutterchance blog today before last Friday's tragic attacks occurred. I ponder such things in my heart. This is the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.
God have mercy on us all!


It's been like an albatross around my neck for over a year now, after purchasing my 100mm macro lens in Novemeber of 2009, just before moving across the Big Pond.

So, at the beginning of this year, 2011, I made the commitment: learn to use it "or else" by the end of this year!

Now that half the year is over, I'm finally starting the learning curve on all the settings:
  • Full vs. .5m vs. .3-.5m?
  • Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus?
  • Aperture Priority vs. what?
  • High vs. low aperture?
  • Single vs. multi-focus points?
  • Tripod vs. hand-held?
  • Etc., etc.
I started off a week ago and every day learned something new. Oh, and Victoria over at A Photography Addict's Showcase gave me inspiration and tips. THANK YOU, Victoria.

This was my first attempt, here inside our apartment.
NO WIND! Very important.
I started out with a tripod and a single-point focus on that one left 'eye'.
I was feeling cross-eyed after multiple attempts.
As Victoria said, I need to know what effect I want!

One sunny day on my walk, I decided to try hand-held shots outside, in spite of our almost constant wind. I was not gonna let this thing control me. I wanted to control IT!

I was excited to think I had found a bumble bee.
WRONG! Victoria told me it's a hoverfly...another learning curve.

At least this one didn't fly away!

Then on Saturday morning Astrid and I were invited for koffie over at Thelma and Siem's. Thelma is an Indonesian woman living here in The Netherlands since 1960. Dutch Siem met her in 1964, they fell in love and have been married now for 46 years! Astrid and Thelma used to play tennis together and have remained in contact.

Lucky for me, they have a HUGE garden with every kind of flower and bush imaginable. Talk about a macro-lens paradise. EXCEPT FOR THE WIND. I LOVE the wind here in this country but when it come to outdoor macro shots, it's my enemy. Still, after 304 images, I was able to narrow them down to 30 okay/decent shots...for my learning curve, that is. Here are some of them:

Even after the link from Victoria about hoverflies vs. bees, I still don't know if this was a bee.
It sure seemed different from all the hoverflies I saw, but...who knows!

But these for sure are hoverflies. Hundreds of them everywhere.

And one dragonfly to end the day.
[click on any image to enlarge]

Hanging on for dear life midst all the wind!

I was such a happy camper in Thelma and Siem's garden!
And the good news is that we will go back again and again, just as we've done before.

In the meantime, I'll keep practicing to figure out what it is I want with macro shots. That may be as much of the learning curve as anything else?!

Now that the Tour de France is done and over with for another year, HURRAH to Cadel Evans from Australia for pulling the whole thing off. HURRAH also to the Schleck brothers from Luxemburg who came in 2nd and 3rd. It was a 'first' for Australia and a 'first' for two brothers! Pretty exciting stuff...and yes, true to form, I cried like a baby at the end. (sigh)


  1. Wonderful macro photos, I really like all of them!

  2. Thanks so much for the referral! Already had a visit from fjällripan this morning and wondered how I'd been found... now I know! :-)

    As for the bee... yes... a bee! And wonderful for the activity you caught and the glow on the flower... also the nice sharp focus! (Oh, and did you notice in the upper right image that the bee is rubbing its face? Someone told me they 'groom' themselves and I've seen them continuously grooming in the early morning before they are fully awake on cool fall days.) The antennae and wide-set eyes of your bee vs. the short stubby antenna and big, closely spaced eyes of hover-fly are the defining clues to the ID. :-)

    The hoverfly images are WONDERFUL and oh, the dragonfly... especially the hanging on for dear life one... a masterpiece of a macro for sure!

    As for getting 30 out of 304 shots that please you, that is success indeed if you were battling wind while capturing these lovely images!

    The bugs are wonderful... but for its simple beauty and the gorgeous colors, I think the last is my favorite of all the images!

  3. Oh my goodness! That is a crazy-sharp lens. LOVE IT!

  4. fjallripan Thank you kindly for stopping by and commenting here. That is very sweet of you!

    Victoria: You are my inspiration for macro images, as you know, so your feedback is very important to me. THANK YOU.

    I have done artsy PPing on several of the bug macros, similar to that last shot that you like, but I´ll be showing them on my Shutterchance blog. And I´ll definitely keep plugging away to fine-tune everything. This has been fun! Do I believe I said that? HA!

  5. Karen: You commented while I was leaving my own last comment, so we were passing ships in the night. HA! It´s a very fine lens, yes, but I´m still trying to figure it out! Thanks for your vote of confidence.

  6. You can be very proud of what came out of all the attemps.
    They are wonderful pictures, we will go back to the garden of Thelma and Siem and take pictures again.
    You know I am your biggest fan and I admire 'small life' too.
    I only can add, please let them coming.....

  7. Astrid: You are indeed my biggest fan, MLMA, and I love you for it! Hartstikke bedankt.

  8. Oh I love your macro shots. I also need to learn more about photography, just too lazy to do it :)

  9. Ginnie - I just love those snails and it's a great shot all around. I need to pull out my macro lens and use my camera! I haven't even taken it out since before Cammie was born!

    These shots are great. And well my advise to you is if it's a windy day contemplate NOT using the macro. You did amazing if you got that many shots! Windy days are for other camera effects, like long shutter, flowing waters, blowing trees...

    Happy you are finally doing it. And yes I was so sad to see the tour end (barely got to watch it this year).. And I didn't cry because I missed the final day. I nearly do every time too!

  10. I love your macro shots! They are beautiful!

  11. I love when you say "hartstikke bedankt".

    Wow, wow, wow! All your photos are impressive indeed. Oh to have the time to take 300 photos in one garden. Usually my family is doing a toe-tap while I try to shoot less than ten photos.

    Proof that great minds think alike:

    I love the next to last photo of the "libelle" on the pink blossoms. The detail on the lacy wings, my goodness.

    Excellent! I think 10% is a very good return for macro keepers on a windy day.

  12. PC: Thank you, Maria. I´m afraid I still have a lot more to learn but at least it´s been fun. :)

    ET: Thank you, Jen. You realize that EVERY day here in The Netherlands is windy...some just more so than others! HA! So, I have to pick my moments, I guess. But thanks for your vote of confidence. You´ll get your own camera out soon...I know. Cammie needs you to. :)

    Tim: Thank you. You´re very kind. :)

    DB: Hartstikke bedankt! :) Lucky for me, everyone gave me great leeway to shoot as much as I wanted, which was a delightful liberty. I think it meant they could catch up 100 mph in Dutch without having to worry about my comprehension. :)

    Great minds DO think alike. I LOVE your own seashells. That kind in particular is so photogenic. So much personality!

    Abd thank yo so much for your kind words. I´m already eager to find another good photo op to continue the learning curve!

  13. Oh, I admire your macro lens photos- they are so wonderful and a praise to nature- how lovely that you can indulge in your photography while you are in this huge, beautiful garden. I looked through all your other pictures- what a rich life did you experience and nothing can get lost neither in memory nor in images or words! Lovely your shutterfly book- yes, you are also bezig zoals een bij of een gehele bijenkorf!

  14. You made some beautiful and unusual photographs, really compliments!

    P.S. Also I am close to the Norwegian people in this time of grief !!!!!!

  15. Philine: How wonderful and sweet of you to come find me here, dear Lady. Hartstikke bedankt! Sometimes I really am as busy as a bee. :) I love it.

    Elettra: Thank you again for stopping by here...and yes, sharing your grief with us.

  16. Indeed our hearts are breaking for all the people in Norway who lost love ones. I think that all these hate talk radios here and the extremists hate type blogs around the world help to bring the unbalanced people out. We have to be vigilant to keep tolerance in the world.

    If these are your beginners’ trials at taking macro I don’t know what they will be when you are fully cognizant with your lens – masterpieces for sure since these photos are stunning. I like seeing the transparency of the wings of the bee or whatever bug this is. Well done friend – you study well.

    I also agree that it is hard to wait another year for the next Tour de France. But Phil Liggett said that the Tour de Spain will be on TV starting 20th August. I have never watched it, but will this time. It is called la Vuelta a España I hope they show nice scenery.

  17. Fantastic photos, Ginnie! I love how you are always learning and it looks like you're on the way to mastering this lens. The dragonflies are my absolute favourites.

    And yes, prayers for Norway. Many, many prayers.

  18. Gosh Ginnie, I love these so much. I am a natural colour fan and a macro so you've impressed me with these wonderful shots.

  19. Vagabonde: You are so right about the hatemongers. It breaks my heart to see what's happening in our world now that we have so much access to what's going on and being said. UGH!

    You are very kind with your compliments of my macros. I see everything I don't like, of course, but then I try to remind myself I've just started learning the lens, still not sure of how it works. But thank you.

    I had no clue there was a Tour de Spain but Astrid did. I'm sure we'll take a look...even though nothing will ever equal France's!

    Christina: Thank you, my dear friend. You are always so gracious and such a fan. We go back a long time, don't we! :)

    Cuidado: Awww, shucks, Mary. Thank you so much for stopping by here, which always means the world to me!

  20. wow, amazing color, quality, and detail. love the dragonfly and the beautiful colors of the bees.

  21. I'm speachless looking at the pics of those flys!!!! Did you use the really long zoom lenses?
    The detail and life in our ecosystem seems to be endless and of course with perfection.
    Hugs, BobK

  22. Zach: I wonder what tag I used that made you find this! :) HA!

    Bob: Awww. Thanks, friend. No, the lens I used is about 1/3 the size of my normal lens...and 1/3 the weight as well. :) I'm learning to love the bugger.

  23. Phew, took me long enough to get here! Well, the move and all ....

    Ohh, the snails are wonderful. The bees are wonderful. And with that macro lens, I have a feeling you are going to get to know many such creatures intimately, including their names. On the other hand, it's kinda nice to forget about names . . .

    Love the final dragonfly shot!

  24. Ruth: Well, of course the move and all! PRIORITIES.

    Thank you, sister, for your comment and for understanding the fun I'm having while learning something new. The names? HA. That's the least of my worries right now. :)

  25. I'm so ashamed... I still have my nice new camera on automatic. Once the kids are in school, I WILL switch to manual (I need to get out the manual and read it too)... Just wonderful shots... It does take a lot of shooting to get a few "perfect" shots. It is competition with yourself, really - to try to get better each time. :)

  26. Margaret: NO NO NO. Don't ever be ashamed of automatic! Sometimes that's the best place to start. And believe it or not, on the white balance, I often switch to Auto on a RAW image in of the lucky things we get to do with that manipulation tool. I never shoot on manual...just Aperture Priority. But the focus with the macro lens seems to do better on Manual Focus when I'm real close.

    And yes, I agree, most of the time the competition is with myself!

    Thank you for your comment!