Readers’ wildlife photos

January 20, 2022 • 8:30 am

Today Mark Sturtevant is back with some lovely wide-angle photos. Mark’s IDs and comments (links are also his) are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

A specialty area of macrophotography is wide angle macrophotography. Here, a subject can be seen in extreme closeup while its broader surroundings are also in view since the lens is also a wide angle lens. The best-known wide angle macro lens is one made by Laowa, but that lens is rather expensive. But there is a near clone of that lens made by Opteka—the Opteka 15mm f/4) which retails for just over $100. So. . . I bought the Opteka. It took a while to figure out how to get along with it since these kinds of lenses are very challenging, but I can definitely say that this is the most fun lens that I own. Here are some wide angle macro pictures.

This is a ground-level view of my favorite spot to look for aquatic fishing spiders on lily pads. None were here that day. You can see that the depth of focus is pretty amazing when stopped down all the way to f/32 (!):

Views up a tree are always interesting. This lens encourages one to look for unique angles. The picture is focus-stacked from several pictures:

Mushrooms near a forest trail:

But of course, photographing spiders and insects is especially fun (for me). Here is a nursery web spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus), which is one of the biggest and scariest spiders around here. I could trust that she would not leave her babies in the web nursery, though, even though the lens is practically touching her:

Black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia):

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus):

European praying mantis (Mantis religiosa). I rather like the solar flares that often turn up in this lens. There is a short lens hood, but it’s pretty useless because the working distance is often just a few millimeters for wide angle macro lenses.

Chinese praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis):

Thanks for looking!

If anyone wishes to learn more about this kind of photography, one cannot do better than watch this delightful review from the great Thomas Shahan. He concentrates mainly on the Laowa wide angle macro lens, but it really is like the Opteka model as far as I am aware.

21 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Another great post from Mark—thanks! The monarch is stunning.

    Here in Ottawa we got 48cm of snow a few days ago and about 10cm more yesterday. It is currently-18C. Bug season seems a long way off.

    1. Ya, no kidding Paul! It took me three days to dig out of my place! Snowmageddon! At least there’s no ticks though.

  2. Beautiful photos as usual. The new lens must really be something! J. J. Abrams would like the pic of the European praying mantis, but my favorite is the nursery web spider; I love the markings and the general shape of the spider. Your final photo reminds me of Ze Frank’s “True Facts” about the mantis, which is one of my favorites.

  3. Great photos as always Mark. Interestingly digital compact cameras are quite good for this type of photography (at least an approximation of it) as they have very wide depth of field so you can have the main subject in close up but the background in reasonable focus. The depth of field of those cameras is a real boon for close-up as it can be very frustrating otherwise when depth of field is very narrow and you end up with lots of shots with the key feature (such as the eye) not quite sharp.

  4. Thank you for this. I’ve tried similar work with my Sigma 10-20mm but it’s not a macro lens.

    For $100, I’m definitely looking into the Opteka.

    EtA: actually, the P900 can get extremely close at its widest zoom, but it doesn’t have that depth of field nor that f/stop range. Hmm … time to play

  5. That lens is incredible; the depth of field of the lily shot is ridiculous. Another tool in your photo-box. I also like the lens flare on the mantis shot.

      1. For dioramas, you need a shallow depth of field, so the lens wouldn’t be good for that application. (Unless the diorama is huge.) Standard Macro lenses are my favorite for details and I use a zoom 28-80mm for “big picture” shots.

  6. It would be helpful if the articles with nature photographs could begin with stating where the photos were taken. These excellent photos come from all over the world.

    1. I don’t know exactly where Mark is based but these pictures are from the US, I believe Phyllis. The two mantis species depicted are not native to North America but have both become established there after accidental introduction.

  7. I’m afraid I’m a bit late looking this post, but I do like that style. The shift feature of the lens is a bonus. I’ve found a similar effect with my 24mm tilt-shift. With extreme tilt a subject can be in focus quite close to the lens, although it can’t be near the center of the frame for obvious reasons. At the price, that is a fun tool. I especially like the tree trunk and the black & yellow spider.

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