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My first butterfly shot

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PJ_83 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote PJ_83 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: My first butterfly shot
    Posted: 03 August 2015 at 22:16
The London National History Museum currently have a 'Sensational Butterflies' exhibition. It's a walk-through exhibition with live butterflies.
It was my first attempt at photographing butterflies.
As it was in a tent, the light wasn't great and it was very humid (I had to wipe the lens few times before it stopped fogging up).

The below picture is the one I like best out of the ones I took.

However, looking at them now, they don't seem sharp compared to the shots of other bugs I've seen on Dyxum.
Do you think higher ISO would have improved the sharpnes?
Can sharpnes be improved in lightroom (I haven't managed to improve any pictures yet using the sharpen function).

Is there anything else I could have done to improve this picture?




A350, Sigma 18-50, 50mm, iso 100, 1/50s.
 



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momech View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote momech Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 August 2015 at 03:51
Well, let me take a crack at it.
It's a pretty good effort for a first try. you've good separation from your background and nice colors, pretty good composition in general. I'd crop some of the top, down to where the flowers start, as the empty space adds little to the image.
Changing the ISO - by itself - won't improve the sharpness. In fact, going with a lower ISO usually means better detail with less noise. Higher ISO would however let you use a faster shutter speed without depending on SSS, which should improve sharpness by reducing motion blur/camera shake, etc. If you're on a tripod, you want to turn off your SSS or it could reduce sharpness.
You could also use a different lens for this kind of work. Zoom lenses have improved a lot over the years, but you've got yours racked out to the extreme - probably trying to get closer - and no zoom lens is at it's best like that. The folks who excel and this are almost always using prime lenses with a combination of focal length - long enough to allow some working distance so as not to scare the bug - but with a short minimum focus distance - MFD - so they can focus as close as the bug will let them get. The ideal are long true macro lenses - which are usually very sharp - and have very short MFDs.
Alternatively, there are gadgets like close up lenses that screw on the front of the lens like a filter and provide magnification; or extension tubes that shorten you MFD for longer lenses (but also cost you your infinity focus).
Best is to practice. Go through the lessons provided on the site. When you see an image you particularly like, ask the photographer for the details, most will be glad to answer a few questions. It's one of the things that makes this site so good.

And welcome aboard   
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skm.sa100 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote skm.sa100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 August 2015 at 05:26
One thing I can suggest is to try to get the butterfly parallel to the plane of the sensor. It doesn't always guarantee a better picture, of course, but it does help with DOF control and better presentation of the subject.
The orange-ish line in the background is a distraction, I'd say. Without it, the background would be simpler and cleaner.
And, yes, head over to the butterflies and moths themed view and study the pics. Try to analyze which ones you think are good and why they are good. That'll help quite a bit.
Happy shooting!
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 August 2015 at 14:17
First, welcome!
Second, it's a nice picture - agreed the top needs cropping and maybe a little on the left, though I'd prefer a little more of the flowers. Tight cropping isn't always best for insects as it can destroy the context. And on my monitor the picture doesn't look badly blurred - the antennae and legs look sharp.

What aperture were you using? Getting all the interesting bits in focus is a challenge in macro pictures, one reason why I often use f11-f16. Looking at the flowers, the ones to the extreme right look sharpest which suggests the lens was focussed a bit in front of the butterfly - have you cropped it heavily on the right?

I find that AF isn't always reliable in macro shots, for a variety of reasons; I like to use MF with focus peaking for real close-ups, though I did actually shoot a lot of butterfly pics two days ago with AF (75-300mm Minolta), mainly at 300mm and about five feet away (they were wild and mostly flew away if I got much closer!). Normally I'd use the 55-200mm which focuses a bit closer (1m), though still not what you'd probably call macro. I generally use a 135mm MF with bellows for real macro stuff. I'm impressed that you managed to get close enough at 50mm!!

As momech says, a faster shutter usually speed helps - much higher with most insects, though butterflies tend to be more static. I feel that the usual rule (shutter speed at least equal to focal length) doesn't apply in macro shots - the greater the magnification, the more effect camera shake has for a given focal length.

I appreciate that light levels were low and this limits your options - I generally keep the aperture smallish and let the ISO rise up as it needed. Usually pics are okay up to 1000 or so ISO and get pretty grainy over 2000.
Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A58, Nex-6, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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PJ_83 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote PJ_83 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 August 2015 at 15:02

Thank you for your great feedback.

@Momech - OK, so for the future I'll try not to shoot at the long end of the lens, and will try to bring it back a bit if possible. I was also shooting at f2.8 which is the widest setting for this lens, so this probably has pushed the lens quality too.

@skm.sa100 - yes, I have seen comments that getting the butterfly parallel to the sensor is best for this type of picture. I was trying to do that, but I think I need more practice :)

@Miranda F - I was using f2.8, which probably made it difficult to get the right parts in focus. I have cropped it on the right as I was trying to get the rule of thirds composition.
There were lots of butterflies there and they weren't flying away, so I was almost touching them with my lens.

Again, thank you for your replies.
I might have another go with butterflies soon, and will post again :)
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