High ISO Macros

I found myself upping the ISO on some handheld macros on a recent trip to Bentley Woods.  The light was okish , and I had only taken my 100mm lens along, as I was hoping to find some co-operative Pearl Bordered Fritillary Butterflies to photograph.  Alas, although there were a few about, none posed particularly well, and the bluebells this year were much passed it, in comparison to other years in mid-May.

So as I walked around further on the wood in a further fruitless hunt for a Marsh Fritillary, I did find some smaller insects to shoot.  Normally I’d use some flash with small insects to help freeze their movements, but without them I resorted instead to upping the ISO to 1600 for some of them.  This is the first time, I’ve used such a high ISO to shoot natural light macros, (normally I’d use ISO 400 or less).  However despite several failed shots, due to insect / me blur, I am pleased with these results.

The noise on the Canon 650D was surprisingly well controlled, and I probably would get away posting them straight out of Adobe Camera RAW, but I have also used a JPEG Moderate preset from Topaz Denoise 5 to smooth what noise there was from the shots.

The first shot was of this free swinging caterpillar, dangling on it’s silk thread from a tree.  It proved a bit of challenge with the wind that was blowing it about, but this one is workable I think.  A small crop to get more of it in shot on this occasion as I was fairly backed off on the 100mm’s magnification.

Catterpillar hanging by a thread
Catterpilar hanging by a thread

Caterpillar hanging by a thread. Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 1600 F5.6 1/250 in Natural Light.(Cropped).

Following on from that I found a green sawfly, which was moving around some nettles.  I have to admit to taking about 60 shots of it and only getting a few sharp ones.  Again the wind was not helping, and the sawfly was moving about a fair bit.  Hence, had I had a flash with me, this would of been almost nullified due to the short exposure duration you get with flash.  However the natural light does give a different and perhaps more pleasing natural background.

Sawfly - Tenthredo mesomela
Sawfly – Tenthredo mesomela

Sawfly – Tenthredo mesomela. Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 1600 F7.1 1/125 in Natural Light.

Sawfly - Tenthredo mesomela
Sawfly – Tenthredo mesomela

Sawfly – Tenthredo mesomela. Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 1600 F5.6 1/200 in Natural Light.

Sawfly Face off - Tenthredo mesomela
Sawfly Face off – Tenthredo mesomela

Sawfly Face off – Tenthredo mesomela. Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 1600 F5.6 1/250 in Natural Light.

I then saw this beetle on the base of some thick stems – and I think it gives a fairly minimalist look.  In this shot the ISO is a much lower 400.

Beetle on Leaves
Beetle on Leaves

Beetle on Leaves. Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 400 F6.3 1/50 in Natural Light.

Finally, I came across two mating ( and as yet unidentified ) flies mating.  Two shots are stacked in this one, which I did in Photoshop CC.

Mating Fly Stack
Mating Fly Stack

Mating Fly Stack. (2 Shots stacked in Photoshop CC) Taken on Canon 650D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  Both shots ISO 1600 F5 1/250 in Natural Light.

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Chris

I've been taking macro photography from 2004. I use both Canon film and digital cameras.

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