Wing, helicopter, and “L” stories voting reminder

The “L” Stories voting round is underway and it’s a tight race. If you want to participate, you can find links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge L-Stories” HERE.<<<Link Just think; you could be the deciding vote in an epic battle for . . . well, just for the fun of it, really. We don’t actually win anything.

Clicking on the above link will take you to the post with the poll where you can cast your vote. The post also contains links to the individual stories. After voting, readers can — if so moved — spread the news about the story to friends and family. Or, not. But, we hope for yes.

So . . . wing<<Link and helicopter (seed)<<Link . . .

On the left, the wing of a Cicada.<<Link
On the right, a maple seed (I think).

Here’s a view of the pair’s other side . . .

I’ve had those in a little dish since last year, and just yesterday I got the opportunity to do some macro work.

They don’t look anything alike, and one is more annoying than the other . . . scratch that; they can both be annoying but in different manners.

Why did it take so long? Well, I lead a busy life. plus, I don’t have a dedicated studio, so doing this kind of thing requires me to set up a mini-studio and it’s a LOT of work.

Almost like a professional, no? That takes almost ten minutes to set up, so you can see why I don’t do it often.

For the photographers out there, let me explain the setup (none of the links are affiliate links — meaning, I don’t get anything for linking them here and I also don’t know if everything is still available):

The big white cube is a CowboyStudio 30-Inch Photo Soft Box Light <<Link I find this a very useful tool for photographing objects and controlling the light and reflections. The beauty of it is that it folds down flat into a 14-inch circular package. 

The lights are the Neewer 3 Packs Bi-color 660 LED Video Light with Stand and Softbox Kit.<<Link The current price is $100 more than what I paid last year for the same set-up, so I’m glad I bought them then.

They are adjustable for both intensity and color. Basically, they are panels of white and yellow LEDs. They are not as powerful as true studio lights, but as I’m not a professional, they work just fine. Besides, I have two flash units I can use (one is on the camera).

Some might wonder about what’s inside the softbox . . .

So, three things . . . The multicolor panels that come with the box are nice, but because they are folded, they show the creases. If they are sufficiently far back from the subject — or I’m shooting with a shallow depth of field {gag} — it’s not a problem . . . but neither of those two things are true in my world.

Here, I’m shooting ISO 100 and f/18-to-f/22 . . . meaning, I easily capture the details of the background.

I get around the issue by using rigid art/foam boards as a platform (and background), in this case, black. Of course, the foam board has a texture, so I have a couple of things I use to further control the background. One of them is that circular metal object

What you see there is an 8-inch candle holder I bought at an antique shop specifically for this purpose. I sanded it down, and then put about six layers of matte black spray paint on it. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a paint that is totally devoid of reflections (I’m still looking) but this is close enough for what I’m doing.

I don’t remember where I got the little clip, but I have two of them and they are very handy for holding small objects.

“What’s that object?” you ask. Well, remember this?

“What’s that?” — No. 1 — the remnants of a clematis flower.

This is what happens when it fully dehydrates . . .

That’s right . . . while I had the set-up in place, I also photographed a bunch of rocks I found interesting, a bunch of leaves, and a few of those clematis flower seeds. All stuff coming up in future posts.

One last thing from that set-up . . . the table. It’s a Keter Folding Compact Adjustable Workbench Sawhorse Work Table<<Link 

I will sing the praises of this table to the four winds. I own four (Costco used to carry them for $45 each).The version I own is not that brand, and it doesn’t have as many attachments accessories (but I could buy them), and the legs don’t extend, but none of that lessens their utility.

I use them for when I have to cut wood, hold stuff I’m working on, as a temporary work surface in the yard or around the house . . . and for my photography set-up.

Check out the video in the listing to see how they work.

OK, then . . . oh, one more thing . . . I also own a set of Xit XTETN Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set for Nikon SLR Cameras.<<Link

These are used to shorten the focusing distance of a lens so that you can get very close when shooting macros. I seldom use them, but in line with having gone through the ten-minutes bother of setting this up, I brought them out.

What can you do with those?

I hope you enjoyed this post and hope you are interested in reading the stories and voting. But, no worries if the latter isn’t true, and sorry if the former is true.

You can see the full-size photos in the SmugMug Gallery HERE<<<Link Or, you can click on the individual photos for a larger (but not-full-size) view, or just scroll through the gallery below:

I know some (mighty few) people miss my long posts . . . but, if you are one of the few, there are many posts worth revisiting. THIS POST from 2017, for example.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at, know that it’s copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intentions, like attracting you to a malware-infested website. Could be they also torture small mammals.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in About Photography, Macro Photography, Nikon D7500, No Category, Photo Post-processing, Photography Stuff, Photos and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Wing, helicopter, and “L” stories voting reminder

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for this informative post. One question: Most of the experts suggest that one uses the lens “sweet spot” which with good lighting is usually f/11 but sometimes f/8 or f/16. Why do you use f/18 to f/22?

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      As I’m wont to say — and say often — I’m not an expert. For me, the f-stop choice in these shots is strictly driven by DOF. Experts (and others) find the shallow depth-of-field a desirable thing, whereas I prefer my subjects to be completely in focus.

      See this post:

      And since the closer one focuses on the subject, the shallower the depth of field, I compensate by going to a larger f/stop (larger depth of field).

      One other caveat . . . these subjects are pretty thin, so I could have done with a smaller f/stop, but I was also photographing other stuff (and I couldn’t always get these to sit flat) and I didn’t want to set a smaller f/stop and then forget to reset it when photographing more 3D subjects like rocks. Set it once and forget it, I say.

      Even so, the third and fourth photos are shot at f/14 and that’s driven in part by the amount of light reflecting back from the flash so, in those instances, I was more concerned with exposure.

      In SmugMug, on the lower-left corner of the photo, there’s an icon (a few horizontal lines) that you can click and get info on the camera settings for each photo.

      I know this is going long, but . . . I also set a higher aperture when shooting outside, especially for birds because the longer zoom gives a shallower dof and I want the whole bird to be in focus (and it’s still occasionally difficult to achieve).

      That results in another issue . . . large f/stops mean less light which means slower shutter speeds. I adjust for those things.

      The majority of my shots are done with the ISO set at AUTO and the option for the speed to be no less than the inverse of 1.5 of the focal length (for a zoom of 300mm, and depending on how well lit the subject, I never shoot at less than 1/500-sec).

      That holds for action shots as well. When I shift to S-priority (1/1250-sec) to try and “freeze” the action (a bird flapping its wings, for instance), I occasionally shoot in manual, with Aperture at f/11 and Speed at 1/1250-sec. Depending on the weather, I’m then shooting anywhere from ISO 800 to ISO 5,000 or higher.

      It used to be I would rarely do that, but the noise-reduction tools these days are very good (and I’m not a professional trying to sell photos).

      Ain’t you sorry you asked?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. AnnMarie says:

    Great photos and detailed set-up account . . . good to know, especially about that Keter Folding Workbench!

    And many thanks for the Alaska 2017 post link . . . besides the awesome photos (got a few more for my lock-screen folder), I got to listen to one of my favorite tunes . . . Ray Lynch’s “The Oh of Pleasure”. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      You are welcome.

      As for the folding table, the ones I have are identical except for the extending legs but half price of what is listed in on Amazon. I honestly don’t know if it’s the same brand or not (too lazy to check). They had them at the Costco we go to, but they aren’t always there.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. oneowner says:

    Excellent shots, E. I have a mini studio similar to yours but even more mini. I have two of the LED light panels that I’ve been using for years, too. I use a portable adjustable computer desk instead of the workbench. It’s certainly not as nice as the workbench but it does have a tilt feature that has come in handy. It’s so old I don’t even remember where I bought it but I can tell you it wasn’t in NYS>

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Thanks, oneowner. I like how the photos turned out (these and others) and I could kick myself for not doing it more often (but I don’t because my legs don’t bend that far).

      I had debated buying a smaller box, but at the time I was selling stuff on eBay (in preparation for moving) and some of the items were large enough to warrant the larger box. The lights were new last year and much better than the previous set I had which cost a bit less and wasn’t as powerful or versatile:

      I’d like to get one of these again but, realistically, I didn’t use it much when I had it and it’s a pain to set up and use.

      I’m always on the lookout for stuff I can use in front, behind, under, or above the camera. I would love a drafting table (actually, two . . . one large flat one, and one that tilts) but I’ve yet to find any used ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wowza! What beautiful subjects, and shots! And so cool to learn how you photograph these close up and personal! The work you put in, your good artistic eye(s), and your creativity result in such amazing photos!

    I’ve always been fascinated with wings and seeds that are wing-like! So, I got so excited when I saw these photos!

    The the remnants of a clematis flower look other-worldly…with the addition of eyes and mouth they could be a creature in a Dr. Seuss book.
    (((HUGS))) :-)


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