Manchester is known for it’s beautifully sunny days…no scrap that.  Manchester is definitely NOT known for sunny days.  It’s quite rare to get a dry day, let alone a sunny one! That said, we’ve recently had a record of three sunny days on the trot and so I was positively itching to take a camera out somewhere.  I haven’t had much opportunity though and rather than waste the nice weather I ended up experimenting in my back yard with my Fujifilm X-E1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 lens and the excellent Raynox M250.  There isn’t a great deal going on in my backyard and so I took some shots of the many dandelions that thrive there.
Dandelions In case you haven’t heard of the Raynox, it’s a close up lens which fits into a special holder that then clips onto the front of your camera lens, a bit like the more traditional close up filters except the image quality does not suffer anywhere near as much, in fact I’ve never noticed a significant drop in image quality when using my Raynox. The only thing I would say is the adaptor that clips to your camera lens, whilst being quite versatile, is a bit clunky. In the long run I may have to find a step ring so I can screw the ‘filter’ directly onto the lens. The above image was shot in Velvia film simulation, and was deliberately under exposed, because of the very bright sun light I wanted to make sure I captured maximum colour saturation and also kept contrast, whilst also removing distractions from the frame by having the majority fall into darkness. This isolates the flower well, and you can just see the rim of the pot the weed is growing in, which creates a nice curve in the frame without causing too much of a distraction. The Raynox allows for autofocus but obviously because I was shooting so closely the depth of field was extremely narrow. This meant that keeping still long enough to take a sharp shot was quite difficult. I mitigated this to a point by stopping down my lens to between f11 and f16, and also keeping the shutterspeed as fast as possible. This was only possible really because it was such a bright sunny day. If it wasn’t I would have probably had to use flash. I will experiment with this alternative approach at a later date. One thing that always puzzles me is that you don’t often see monochrome macro shots. I love shooting close up in black and white. Dandelions
This shot was taken in a similar manner to the colour shot but this time I framed the image from the side, and narrowed the depth of field slightly. I used the B&W+Red film simulation (my favourite!) and kept the exposure more or less at about -1/3rd EV just to keep the details from blowing out in the strong sunshine.  I used spot metering, and set my exposure manually to keep things consistent.  I also used the viewfinder, shielding my eye with my free hand rather than try to quint at the rear screen.

Both these shots are Jpegs straight from the camera.


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