Thank you Mood
M-Plate Pro - a delightful piece of flexibility
I’ve got a few mini-reviews to share over the next few posts but the first one is an elegant blend of simplicity and functionality. CustomSLR has designed a universal tripod plate system that fills a number of needs. First, it supports both the Manfrotto RC2 and Arca-Swiss mounts, and second, it provides several additional attachment points making it easy to add a strap like the BlackRapid RS series or CustomSLR’s own Glide Strap. The plate is made from aluminum and is hard anodized for a superior black finish.
Tony Chor showed me his BlackRapid strap a year or so ago and it is a great way to carry a camera around for long walks but my Arca plate was already using the spot that the strap needed to connect to the camera so I haven’t made the switch to using it. When I saw the M-Plate Pro, though, I knew that the wait was over. Now I can have my plate and carry it comfortably too!
The only downside so far, is when I try to attach a lens with its own lens ring, the ring runs into the extra attachment point but I just need to rotate the lens ring around and it’s not a problem for long.
The M-Plate is available from CustomSLR’s online web store and they ship quickly. If you use either of the supported plate connections, this is definitely worth a look.
Both Sides of the Daisy
Today’s shoot is daisies - Gerbera Daisies to be specific. During a break between shooting to watch the Kentucky Derby, I started thinking about the shots where I was backlighting the flowers or shooting them from behind and then I wondered if I could get a single shot with both the front and the back of the daisy and keep both of them in focus.
I put the flower in a vase, sitting on a mirror. Setting up the angle to see both the back and the front of the flower wasn’t too hard, but getting both the back and the front in focus was trickier. There are a couple of ways to do this, the first is with a wide angle lens. As lenses get wider, it gets easier to get a reasonably close up shot with very deep depth of field but using that in my studio would also end up with a lot of things that need to be cropped out of the shot. The second way is to bracket the focus, taking one shot with the back of the flower in focus and then another shot with the reflection in focus, and then merging them in Photoshop. The second option is what you see above.
I kept enough space between the flower and its reflection so doing the merge would be easier. The selection is pretty simple with a reasonably big dark area and the vase is busy enough that it’s not too easy to see where the merge happens in it. Once I had the selection, I just created a layer mask on one of the images and voila! Both sides of the daisy.
Fisheye Lenses - Embrace the Bend
Many people I’ve talked with are pretty binary on fisheye lenses - they love them or they hate them. It is true that the distortion associated with fisheye lenses can be distracting and can easily become the subject of the shot, but fisheye lenses also have the power create a unique view on that subject.
I went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival today with a goal - shoot only with the 100mm macro or 8-15mm fisheye lens. I figured I would probably do a lot of macro shots (and I did) but it turned out that my favorite shots from the day were fisheye shots and generally they were all close-ups. The fun part was both embracing the distortion and using the lenses ability to get REALLY close to the flowers while still getting sharp focus.
In the end, a fisheye lens is a great tool for forcing photographers to see things in a new way. Or as some of my throw away shots prove, a great tool for taking pictures of your own feet.