My Friend, Hairy

Today’s post is all about a new little friend I made in the prairie meadow the other day. We’ll call him “Hairy”. As I was finishing my leisurely walk around the perimeter of the meadow, I saw a little movement out of the corner of my eye. Fortunately, there was not much in this area except for a lone sunflower plant that was standing above the short prairie grasses. The sunflower plant was not yet in bloom, but had several noteable buds. As I looked the plant over, I quickly saw the source of the “movement” I had seen. Hiding deep within one of the pockets (where a couple of leaf stems meet the main plant stalk) was a very small spider. I’ve not a clue as to it’s identity. For one thing, it is so small. And for another, it is tucked in so much in the pocket, that I can’t get a good look at it’s back to view and patterns or colors on him.

I sat up my tripod and got as close to him as possible, and began making some images (Note: none of the images in this post were cropped during the editing process). Here is what he looked like (this image was made at f/3.5, using my 180mm macro lens mounted on my Canon 1DMarkIII body):

Original "Hairy" image

The most distinguishing attribute I could see were his beautiful green eyes! I shot for a while, then decided to play around. I removed my Extension Tubes from my fanny pack and placed 68mm of extension (the entire set of 36mm, 20mm and 12mm tubes) between the body and the macro lens. Extension Tubes allow the camera/lens setup to focus closer to the subject. This resulted in a much larger image of Hairy. I also began playing with the depth of field (DOF), varying the aperture between f/3.5 (the largest opening of the lens) and f/16 (I didn’t want to go smaller than f/16 since I wanted to keep the background out of focus). Here are some images taken with the Extension Tubes in place:

f/3.5 :

"Hairy" f/3.5

f/11 :

"Hairy" f/11

f/16 :

"Hairy" f/16

Which one do you like the best? Most macro photography recommendations tend to suggest that you keep only the subject, or only the eyes/head of the subject, in sharp focus and allow the remainder to drop off into a blur, which forces the eye to the sharp (important) area of the image. But for educational purposes, more DOF is usually better since one can see more of the subject, more clearly.

So, have you decided which one of the last 3 images above that you like the best? Given all factors, I tend to like the f/3.5 image the best. The main reason is that there was an annoying prairie grass tip that was very close to Hairy, and very close to being in the same plane as Hairy. Being located so close to Hairy, I dared not move it as Hairy would have likely scampered off. This grass is very distracting to me, and at f/3.5 it is the least annoying of all the images. I may play with one of my f/11 images (which would be my favorite if the grass was not present) and use a technique called “Quick Mask” to remove it from the image.

If you’d like to give me your vote for “Best of Show” (which aperture setting you like best), you can send me a tweet or an e-mail. I’d like to know how you about the DOF of this image.

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