Still hanging out in Illinois and while it would be great to have an extended foliage season, it is an ethereal thing and does not last long. About the only sources of brilliant color are the "Burning Bush" (Euonymus alatus) which is visible on almost every block in town, it seems! Even at the cottage here we've got several, as seen on the left. As you can see, most of the leaves from the big trees have all turned brown and fallen, though one high overhead still has leaves that I'm waiting to fall before climbing the roof and cleaning it and the eaves out. But there are still points of color to capture - right under our bush, for example! At right is a close-up of some of the scarlet leaves, along with what I suspect is a mulberry leaf (known for their asymmetrical shape) and the already-down brown oak leaves litering the ground...
So without foliage to shoot, what else is there? Well, like the title sez, you gotta take what life gives you and make the best of it. The weather has been so great here - nearly a month it seems of clear skies! And almost Arizona temperatures! Highs have occasionally pushed 80, though has very slowly been descending thru the 60s and now the 50s. But I've been able to ride my bike nearly every day, if not 2 or 3 times a day! And with the clear skies, what do you get every morning - dew! I am fond of telling my bloggin' buddy Ken on Long Island that if you get out the macro lens, almost everything is interesting! And even a dew-covered lawn is no exception.
Here are some typical macro shots of dewy grass. Actually, I used the macro PLUS about 3cm of extension tubes to extend the lens outward and get an even closer view. It is truly amazing the tiny droplets of dew that condense out of the air and coat everything! And as at right, each little droplet acts like a tiny lens, forming an image of what is behind.
Fortunately, there were a few things that weren't blades of grass. There were a few late-season dandelions, and they look absolutely amazing on a dewy morning! While looking a little aged and sporting a few spider webs, the droplets look like so much bubbles of foam. Note the image at left shows nearly the entire seed head.
Unfortunately, this blog has a 1600 pixel-wide image limit. Note that the camera sensor of the 6D has over 5400 pixels. By reducing an image to the blog limit, resolution is decreased by a huge amount after down-sampling the image. One way around that is to zoom in to full resolution - take a 1600 pixel-wide sample of the full image. Shown at right is a crop of the left image showing the full resolution of the original... Click on the right image twice to load the full-size image! Truly Amazing!
Note that these aren't straight images, not that I'm cheating! These are focus-stacked images, which I've talked about before. With the macro working close-up, the depth of field is very narrow and the images above are a combination of 13 individual frames, each with slightly different focal points. Photoshop is then used to pull out the sharp parts of each image for the final stack... The results can be inspirational! At left is another shot (15 frames combined!) of another dandelion seed head taken a couple days earlier. This one has more seeds, so don't get the cross section view as above, but can see "down" into the head. I can't decide which I prefer, so feel free to let me know which is your favorite!
Finally one more demonstration! A dewy lawn is a good place to demonstrate the Heiligenschein! If you look at the shadow of your head, there is normally a bright spot caused by a couple of factors. In the image at left, you can see the camera (held away from my head w/two hands) recorded it as a brightening centered about where the lens would be, marked by the white "X". Click on it and you can see that the brightening is caused by two effects. The major one is that in the exact shadow of the camera, the sun/camera/grass is in a direct line and there are no shadows, so the intensity is at a maximum. Once you move off that line, you can see the shadows of the grass blades, so average intensity is lower. In addition, the dew adds a brightening - you can see individual bright points as the droplets focus sunlight which reflects off the back of the droplet to come back out towards the sun. This "cats-eye" reflection occurs, ironically with cat's eyes in the dark with a flashlight, or is what causes traffic signs to glow when your headlights are on as the glass beads on them reflect the light back to the driver. So the combination of lack of shadows and cats-eye reflection from individual drops both contribute to the Heiligenshein...
One more thing to point out... You might know about rainbows - the circular colored effect that occurs at 42 degrees from your shadow when there are droplets of water in the air. You can also make an artificial rainbow with a garden hose if the sprayer makes droplets fine enough. And similarly, if you look 42 degrees from your shadow on a dewy lawn, you can see a brightening - demonstrated at right. Not a lot of color, likely because the dew drops aren't perfect little spheres, but they are close enough that you can see lots of the droplets reflecting light back, some showing some bright colored spots...
So that is what I've been observing lately - whatever nature throws my way! Unfortunately, with the man-made hassle of Daylight-Savings Time, I've now got to get up an hour earlier to catch the dewy dawn light, and I'm not an early riser. So no dew pictures since last Sunday!
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