Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary


Rhododendron 2

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro.  ISO 560. 1/60 sec at f/22. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 560. 1/60 sec at f/22. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Today’s Rhododendron. The results of a gorgeous spring afternoon in the park. I think, after months of black-and-white, we’ll do some more of this color botanical work. Stay tuned, more to come.


Rhododendrons 1


Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikon 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. 1/10 sec at f/13. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

One of the loveliest and most majestic of spring flowers, the rhododendrons are now at their peak here in Connecticut. There are over 1000 varieties of rhododendron, found growing natively around the world. The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal, the state flower of Kashmir, and the state flower of West Virginia.


What I’m Reading… Robert Llewellyn, Seeing Flowers

Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers, Photography, by Robert Llewellyn, Written by Teri Dunn Chace.

Robert Llewellyn Seeing FlowersRobert Llewellyn’s macro photography of flowers for this book is simply astonishing. I have never seen anything quite like it. Seeing Flowers features over three hundred extraordinary photographs of flowers, organized by family, from the Amaryllis family through the Viola family. Each chapter – family – includes text by Teri Dunn Chace discussing botanical and horticultural details – And though in depth and thorough, the scientific discussion is never dry but readable and fascinating.

Click Here → A portfolio of Llewellyn’s images from Seeing Flowers.

For me, though, the images are the heart of the book. Although the book does not include technical information for the photographs, Llewellyn’s website is very informative (http://www.robertllewellyn.com),  Llewellyn produces these macro images using “image stacking” – shooting many images at different points of focus of then stitching into a single image. Llewellyn developed his techniques himself – He shoots as many as 100 images for a single photograph, each image focusing on planes separated by perhaps only a centimeter. Llewellyn’s camera is attached to a computer-controlled motor-driven mount on a vertical axis above his subject.

Until I found Seeing Flowers, I was not aware of Robert Llewellyn, but his website provides lots of wonderful photography and information worth spending a good deal of time. Besides including lots of his macro and other photography, Llewellyn’s website is one of the best designed photography sites I have seen recently. Llewellyn has published his work extensively – Books are listed on his website as well as Amazon’s Llewellyn page. Another recent book featuring Llewellyn’s photography using the same macro technique is Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees.

Robert Llewellyn’s website: http://www.robertllewellyn.com

Seeing Flowers at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Flowers-Discover-Hidden-Life/dp/160469422X

Seeing Trees at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Trees-Discover-Extraordinary-Everyday/dp/1604692197/

More about focus stacking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_stacking and http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5717972844/focus-stacking-in-macro-photography


Spring Bloom

Spring Bloom. Nikon D200. 105 mm Micro Nikkor. ISO 800. 1/4000 sec at f/4.8. April 2013. Copyright Joanne Mason 2013.

Spring Bloom. Nikon D200. 105 mm Micro Nikkor. ISO 800. 1/4000 sec at f/4.8. April 2013. Copyright Joanne Mason 2013.

A bud on a flowering tree, just beginning to open. (Click for larger.)


Dahlias 5

Dahlias 5. Nikon D200. 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8. ISO 400. 1/250 sec at f/36. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

The yellow converts an otherwise plain image (if any image of dahlias can be said to be plain) into something very striking.


Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up Photography

The Latest eBook from David DuChemin’s Craft & Vision: Up Close, by Andrew S. Gibson

Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up PhotographyAlmost anyone who follows this blog knows how much I love macro and closeup photography. I’ve been doing it for years. Going all the way back to the days of film and manual cameras, I’ve done closeup photography using closeup lenses, macro lenses, and extension tubes. Closeup and macro photography – all kinds, but especially flowers, fascinates and intrigues me, and challenges me as well. Over the years, I’ve seen and read many books on the subject. No book has interested me more than the latest ebook from Craft And Vision, Up Close: A Guide to Macro and Close Up Photography, by Andrew S. Gibson.

You can spend a fortune on macro lenses, but you don’t have to. Macro photography can be surprisingly affordable, and Gibson discusses all the different approaches in depth, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each. Moreover, Gibson doesn’t just discuss equipment or theory but gets into practical techniques for doing closeup photography in different settings. As much closeup phiotography as I’ve done, I learned a great deal from Gibson’s book. He explains differences in magnification – and the effect of DX vs full-format cameras – better than any I’ve read. And there is a wealth of glorious beautiful closeup photography to admire.

Photograph by Andrew S. Gibson

After an Introduction and chapters on Equipment and Technique, Gibson discusses fully something most books gloss over but is critical to closeup and macro phgotography – Lighting. Again, he goes over the available equipment but also explains methods and techniques of different approaches.

Finally, the book concludes with something I wish more photography books included: Two in-depth case studies – Many lovely photographs and commentary by two other photographers specializing in closeup photography, Mandy Disher, who photographs insects and flowers, and Celine Steen, who does food photography.  Throughout, the style is conversational while quite informative. This book is like a private seminar on closeup photography with three expert practitioners of the craft.

Photograph by Mandy Disher

Photograph by Mandy Disher

Photograph by Celine Steen

As I said, this is one of the best books on macro and closeup photography I’ve read. It’s quite suitable for both beginners and experienced photographers. Up Close may be the best ebook to come from Craft & Vision. 88 pages. PDF ebook, available from Craft and Vision for the ridiculous price of $5!

BUT, for the first six days only, if you use the promotional code CLOSE4 when you checkout, you can have the PDF version of Up Close for only $4 OR you can use the code CLOSE20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ PDF eBooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm (PST) June 24, 2012.

Click here to visit Craft And Vision.

Up Close from Craft and Vision



Orchid (Phalaenopsis). Nikon D200. 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8. ISO 200. 1/250 sec at f/38. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

The Phalaenopsis is often known as the “Moth Orchid.” As with many other recent images, I find the black-and-white treatment brings out elements of the texture completely overlooked in the color version. (Click for larger.)



Rose. Nikon D200. 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8. ISO 200. 1/250 sec at f/38. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Here is a different treatment of a rose. It looks a bit like a pencil drawing. I love how the black-and-white is able to bring out soft textures, shadows, and patterns far better, I think, than an image in color.

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