Monday, January 18, 2016

Web Designs

Nothing technical here. This is about the Big Cypress in the early morning after a hard rain. It is about paddling gently through a grassy prairie covered in delicate spider webs. It is about those dewy webs that sparkled like diamonds in the foggy haze of the sunrise. I was taken in by the abstract beauty of the web designs and couldn't decide if I preferred frontlit or backlit webs more. Either way, I wanted to photograph them. Thankfully, I brought my macro lens.

 I experimented with several ways of capturing the interesting designs of thin white web lines heavy with water droplets that hung like little jewels on a necklace. The repeating reflections in the tiny droplets were subtle, as is the landscape. As a result of the low lying landscape, creativity is challenged as I wander around assessing the morning light on the grasses and trees and their reflections in the shallow water.

This is where my macro lens comes in handy because sometimes you have to move in and look closely.

So I played with the spider webs, never seeing a spider. Mostly, I handheld my camera, confident in the sharpness of the lens. To enhance the sharpness, I stayed within the len's aperture sweet spot which is f8 to f11. With that range, I had a relatively narrow depth of field for these complicated spider webs. I decided that limiting the DOF could make the web compositions more interesting, though challenging. For this, I focused on a strong point and built the composition around it by moving the camera this way or that until I found one I liked. With parts of the web out-of-focus and some of it in focus, composition was key. Background was often distracting and the reason for not composing an image as I went in close to fill the frame with only the web.


 I was also attracted to the low lying webs that hung over the water and their reflections.I tried some images that would include the reflection, but often times a grass poked out of the water and interrupted the web.

I found a beautiful web on a mangrove tree high above the water. I decided to set up the camera on the tripod next to the canoe and attempt to capture multiple images with varying focus points (later to be stacked into one image). This was not easy as there was little room for setting up in a good spot. But, I managed to hang over the edge of the canoe to see the image through the view finder. While viewing, I used manual focus and focused on the left side of the image. Then I worked my way to the right while adjusting the focus point to get a total of nine images. I used the cable release to minimize movement. Once at home, I put the images together and while the focus stacking software worked well, there was an out-of-focus branch that I was not able to avoid. With some significant cropping, I got this image.

Once I examined the images at home, I was amazed at the variety that can be captured. What a productive way to push yourself creatively and technically. As always, when I have my first encounter with a photo subject, I see it as a jumping off point and begin to strategize my next encounter. Such is the Big Cypress.

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