Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Descent into Antworld

OK, so this is where I swallow pride in large doses and get really confessional.

I have only just worked out how to use the macro setting on my camera properly. This is largely because I am a total techno-nitwit. My excuse for not improving this sorry condition is that I have an aversion to instruction manuals only obtainable on disc, as the more detailed one for the Powershot is. I love blogging, Wikipedia, Amazon, messing about with Photoshop (even in French) and Picasa (thanks Joe for putting me onto it), but manuals (and Ikea catalogues) need to be on paper.

Anyway, what you have to do is turn the button to P, or AV will do it, and that way when you press the macro button it actually works! Press it a bit harder and you get Super-macro. ( So, Gran, you make a hole in the shell, put the egg in your mouth...). Leave it on auto and it doesn't work. I found out by chance following an exchange here with my friends Lee and Avus about depth of field. Previously, I mostly relied on the zoom, which was OK, especially when I discovered how to turn on the digital zoom,(which wasn't very long ago either, oh dear, oh dear); better for insects etc, when you don't really want to get too intimate, like these cricket-type things,

The second one was very big, three or four inches perhaps (that's big for a bug in Northern Europe).

But with the super-macro, you can get right up and touch the subject, and if you've a lense protector and UV filter, like I do, you have to. The problem with this is, it will sometimes focus on the specks of dust, fingermarks, dog saliva etc on the filter, or sometimes you get a reflection of the lense surround, as in the one below, which I rather like and decided not to crop because it echoes the shape of the tree knot.

So, armed with my new knowledge, I set off to get up close and personal,

to say nothing of low down and dirty,

with the old tree stumps which I'd previously been acquainted with at a slightly more respectful distance in the second valley,

and their denizens.

Little did I know, however, while taking an insect's eye view of everything, that this wee hole I was jamming the lense up to was none other than the entrance to...


Yes, yes, I know it's tiny, but like I said, this is Northern Europe I'm talking about. And there were a lot of them, and they were very cross, and pouring out very fast. So I didn't have much opportunity to photograph them in their terrifying multitudes, because before I knew it they were all over the camera and making their way up my arms and one of them even tried to bite me on the neck... aarrgh! I'm not sure there aren't one ot two in my clothing still. I think I'll stick to the zoom for bugs.


Anonymous said...

WOW, oooh, WOW! I love these!

As for those ants, I just have to stand for a few minutes on certain spots in our yard and garden and the ants will be all over me, biting. I do believe we live on one giant ant city.

robinstarfish said...

The world down there is so much BIGGER than it is up here! Why is that?

Great stuff, excellent discoveries!

meggie said...

Wonderful shots.
I am still sulking over my big letdown pics of last night's Lunar Eclipse. My little camera is woefully inadequate. I am going to ask the camera god to funnel funds in my direction, so I can update!

Anonymous said...

and i do enjoy these marvelous shots and look forward to more of your explorations.

jzr said...

Oh, but I want to see the ants!!!

Bee said...

It is BECAUSE it is Northern Europe that you can get up close and personal with the bugs. You just try it here, down under, in the land of all the really scarey monsters!

Be brave, the pictures are worth it...

julie said...

Three to four inches is big for a bug here, too :) What marvelous pictures! I'm envious of your camera's macro abilities; mine has a macro setting, but it's never worked like yours (unless, of course, I've been doing it wrong. Hmmmm... may have to make a field trip....)

Granny J said...

Thanks, Lucy -- I, too, have an aversion to instruction manuals -- they tend to be too dense in data to comprehend without reading and rereading. Up until readin this post, I've been quite unsuccessful with macros on the Powershot. In fact, I reverted to my little Sony, which is much easier to use for macros. You have inspired me to try anew! Thanks.

Avus said...

Great shots, Lucy - the "hidden world of macro".
I only read the manual AFTER I get in the mess! Why is this, I wonder?

Lucy said...

Thanks all.
Welcome JZR, sorry, the ants were moving too fast and turned out all blurry excepy just that one!
GJ - glad to hear from another Powershot user; the macro will apparently come on on the auto setting but it doesn't work very well, and the super-macro wouldn't come on at all; even the nice girl in the camera shop tried it without success and shrugged and said that poor macro is the price you pay for a good zoom.
Re instruction manuals, I suppose you can get a long way with something like the camera without reading it up much; it seems it's going to yield up its secrets to me little by little, which is nice in a way because I get good mileage out of it - a benefit of not being too clever! I can better cope if I have a booklet I can hold in one hand and the camera or whatever in the other, reading things off PDF is just a turn-off.

stitchwort said...

Great photos!

The problem with instruction manuals is that they tell you about the functions of the item, not how to do the thing you want to do.
If you see what I mean.

Lucy said...

Yes, exactly. And camera manuals, it seems to me, presuppose a technical knowledge that only those who were photography enthusiasts and experts before the age of digital are likely to have. For alot of people like me, I think, who have only started enjoying taking pictures since digital cameras made it easier, we know what we'd like to achieve but haven't a clue what the technical term for it is!

Chookyblue...... said...

no time to read but love the pics....have taken some like the wood myself.......will be back later to check more out

leslee said...

Why do they call it macro when it lets you get so micro! It's like being shrunk down into this incredible world.

My last camera was a PowerShot. Can't remember ever figuring out the settings on that, though it took pretty good pix.