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Week 26 of 52’s theme was “Yellow” There was never a doubt about what I was going to shoot for this one, only a matter of how… Every summer we get tons of these little buggers buzzing around our yard giving us a case of the ‘twitches’ as they always seem to sneak up on you and trigger that most human of traits “fear of pain!” (I know I’ve been stung before) So my shot decision was to do a close up of one.

Yellow Jacket on a Thistle – 50mm f/1.8 + 36mm extension tube

I cut a thistle branch off of a plant we have growing in our garden area and placed this Yellow Jacket near the top of it, since I was using the extension tube I needed more light so I used my two YN-560 flashes on Cactus V5 triggers, the main light was high camera right at about a 45 degree angle softened with a small flash head softbox at full power,  the second flash was used as a fill light with bare flash and zoomed to about 80mm, I placed it at camera left almost level with the camera around 70 degrees to the subject and 1/4power.

I used a piece of white paper as a background/bounce reflector to give a clean backdrop and I just held that up by hand for every shot.

I really liked how much detail I was able to bring out and still get a wide angle feel from the shot.

A different angle and a little closer:

A head on view. 50mm f/1.8 + 36mm & 20mm extension tubes

In this next shot I was setting my flashes and didn’t hold up the paper for the background but I liked the dark background it made.

50mm f/1.8 + 36mm & 20mm extension tubes, the lighter area of green in the background is another stalk from the thistle branch I cut, even though the ambient in the room was plenty bright at these macro levels the background goes dark pretty easily without a direct light source on it.

When I first bought my D7000 I found some ultra cheap Chinese knock off brand extension tubes on sale, Here’s a link to some that are similar, however when I got them I instantly realized that there was just no way I was going to trust them on my new camera and I ended up buying the much better Zeikos tubes instead, however I’ve held on to the cheap ones and this time I decided to give them a try. I still wasn’t going to use them attached to a lens or my camera, but I could insert them in between my other extension tubes to really increase the magnification. The cheap tubes together totaled 49mm so I added them to my Zeikos tubes which total 78 mm giving me a total extension tube length of 127mm and this is how close you get.

50mm f/1.8 with all 6 extension tubes (78mm + 49mm)

I had to have my daughter hold a flash light right up to the yellow jacket so I could see it enough (barely) to focus,  the depth of field at that level of magnification is insanely shallow and  I was lucky to get anything in focus at all.

So what have I learned as I reach the halfway point in this 52 week challenge?

Well a few things:

1- I can not do a 365 project! I have no idea how anyone can and my hat’s off to everyone that manages it. I simply take too long to plan, shoot and process my images and that’s OK with me (although I could cut that time down greatly with a newer computer)  I think I would feel too rushed to do a daily shot and my creativity would actually decrease as I hurried each day to just shoot something to fulfill the requirement, as opposed to making an image with deliberate thought and care and planning.

2- I do much better when I have at least an idea or possible ideas thought out ahead of time. Even if I don’t get the exact shot I had pre-visualised it opens possibilities up and I can often find or make a similar or even better shot.

3 – My work schedule really blows for finding time to shoot in good light! I’m basically left with just one evening each week. (Mornings just don’t happen so it’s not even an option)

4 – I’m having an absolute ball!! I can’t wait for the next half of the challenge and hope to improve my skills and creativity along the way.

Thanks for visiting!

Sorry about that I couldn’t resist! 😉

Happy Shooting!

Howard

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