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A blue dragonfly, macro photography

This lovely dragonfly is either a Marsh Skimmer or a Mangrove Skimmer, and I will ask someone else to help me decide which (my money is on Marsh, cos i think the Mangrove skimmer has a small flash of yellow on the side).

When out walking (as opposed to out taking photographs) I do not want to lug a whole range of gear and tripods with me (must be my age, the 30degree heat and humidity) and my wife now refuses to carry it too (same reasons i reckon), so you have to decide what to take in a backpack already full of water and sandwiches, and more water.

The 100mm lens also allows for a lovely bokeh with a shallower depth of field, as in this shot where i pulled back.

My "go-to" lens is a 100mm macro, as most of the time its smaller bugs, beetles and arthropods and insects that I will find and want to take in situ. But the challenge then is light; as most little creatures are in darker recesses of the forest, and - as for these images - I am at f22, and handheld, so i need at least 1/160s for handheld at this range, and i do not want my ISO at 2000 if i can help it.

So my little secret? (well it was til i told you).... a ring flash that i use during the day. I would prefer an off camera set up of two remote speedlights, with a softbox and a bounce, but then i would need a beast of burden to carry it all (volunteers?)....but if out hiking on a long walk, its a camera, one lens, and a ring flash. I take a light reading to see how much light is actually needed for the shot without a flash, and then switch to manual, closing the aperture as much as I can, using around 400ISO to speed things up a bit, but keep the images crisp, using 1/180s or around that, and then dialling the flash back to around 1/16th of a regular shot, to avoid highlights and overexposure. I also tend to use the "shadow" setting for white balance, as i like the warmer colours, but for these I was using Auto White Balance, as this helps deal with the colour of the flash lighting as well.

Its a quick, neat, easy set up, and it takes a lot of the worry out of Depth of Field when you are out in the field, and it avoids the hard, dark shadows of direct flash on camera.

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