1. I’ve cheated! I can’t decide between these two very different shots…

First shot: Ceropegia distincta subsp. haygarthii


Nikon D800E/200f4micro/cpl

Stack of 7 frames

ISO 100 1/15 f/8


This is a purer and simpler shot of the same subject as earlier, and a case where less is more I think.  it definitely represents for me the high end of where macro photography has taken me so far, and is technically pretty perfect.

This shot made it into the mingthein.com reader portfolio, and is a naturescapes.net Editor’s Pick.

Second shot: Lithops lizard!


This was the result of some playing around with some compositional ultra-closeups of living stone succulents (Lithops pseudotruncatella in this case) at my parents’ back in February.  This is a shot of the growing point, but at this magnification it looks disconcertingly like the menacing eye of some kind of lizard.  Again, the shot was awarded an NSN Editor’s Pick.  Technically it isn’t perfect at all because of the diffraction effects at f/36, and I could have stacked it, but the result is still very striking.

Nikon D3S/200f4micro/cpl/full set of tubes (68mm extension)
ISO 200 5 seconds @ f/36

Some final observations about this top ten:

I think it pays to think out of the box in terms of compositions and techniques to try to achieve that extra ‘wow-factor’.  It’s also clear that I’ve very much got on top of focus-stacking this year, using short stacks processed in Photoshop CS6.

In terms of the change in bodies – I’m pretty much always using the D800E now instead of the D3S for macro – I think the results speak for themselves even in these relatively large crops (max 1200px wide here), since the extra detail is still visible at these small sizes.  Other than that, the D800 is lighter (without the battery grip), more flexible in terms of its FX, 1.2, 5×4 and DX crop modes, and has an SD card slot which works seamlessly with my Macbook Pro.  It has a few extra things that the D3S doesn’t have, but the feature I liked on the D3S which the D800 doesn’t have is the voice memos button which I found useful for recording plant names from labels without having to write them down.

And finally, a big vote of thanks to my parents for being able to grow such amazing plants for me to photograph!

Thanks for following me; next posts will be my top ten butterfly shots of the year.


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