Now for something different!

A long weekend spent at my parents’ meant some opportunities for more macro shooting.  My father is a world authority on cacti and succulents, and Lithops in particular (‘Living Stones’ succulents from South Africa), and is currently hard at work on a new book on the subject.

Lithops make excellent macro subjects, either as whole-plant shots showing their unique structures, or as extreme close-ups well beyond life-size, where the patterns and cells on the tops of their ‘leaves’ come into their own.

Shooting them is quite tricky however, as the unusual shapes makes composing shots of the full plants quite difficult – I’ve now experimented with a fisheye lens rather than a macro lens to vary the options here.  The extreme magnifications required for the ultra-close-ups requires use of a full set of extension tubes, and stacking of a number of frames for depth of field – a technique that I have latterly found preferable to using very small apertures and suffering consequent softness from diffraction.

When it all comes together, the results can be wonderful!

Also had the opportunity to shoot some other succulents, whose structural forms can make for nice compositions and encourage nice depth of field experiments and creative apertures.  Since these are all cultivated plants in pots, compositions tend to have to be tighter than wild shots anyway, but of course the close working distances of macro allow for good flexibility here.

The next few posts will contain a number of the different shots I’ve managed over the weekend.  Enjoy!

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