I have often been asked which camera, lenses or processing I have used to produce my prints or slides. When complete, this page will contain infomation about the equipment that I have used to capture and process the photographs contained within these galleries.
Photos prior to 2003 taken with Canon EOD 1N (35mm SLR film camera) mostly using Fujichrome Provia 100ASA slide film. Photos 2003 onward taken using Canon EOS 1Ds (11 megapixel Digital SLR). "Macro" pictures taken almost exclusively using Canon EF 100 mm f2.8 macro lens (non-USM version).
As with most digital cameras, a variety of infomation about each exposure is stored with the 1Ds image file as EXIF data. Click HERE to learn about EXIF.
As a temporary measure, the following is copied from my older website www.paul.chesterfield.btinternet.co.uk. I have updated this in places to reflect my change from film to digital, but I intend to rewrite the whole section when I have time.
For many years I have progressed through a range of 35mm Canon cameras, which I have found to be very reliable and of excellent quality. I am currently using a Canon EOS 1Ds, an 11 megapixel DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, usually with a Canon 100mm Macro lens attached.
A macro lens is a lens which has been optically designed to perform best close up, and which can focus down to a few centimetres to give image magnifications of up to 1:1 on the recording medium (film or digital sensor).
This is a combination that I am very happy with as it produces far crisper results that I have been able to achieve previously. Close-up work in natural light requires a rock-steady camera, which is best achieved with a sturdy tripod. I use a Benbo tripod which is very flexible and can be fixed in virtually any position.
To aid focussing I use an adjustable focussing rail between tripod and camera, which enables me to move the camera forward and backward very precisely. Last but not least, for daylight photography I use a cable release to fire the shutter remotely, which avoids the camera movement that would result if I used the camera's own shutter.
To enable quick changes of setup I use Kirk and Really Right Stuff quick-release plates and platforms on most of my equipment. These units use the Arca-Swiss clamp system which is very secure and stable when tight.
I prefer to work with natural light, but from time to time I have to resort to using artificial illumination, especially when photographing "in the field". Here the slightest movement can ruin the picture (when the field of view is measured in millimetres it doesn't take much movement to blur things).
I have tried various combinations of flash guns. Until recently I was using a low-power twin-flash set-up, with the guns on swan-neck arms on each end of a base plate fixed under the camera. When positioned correctly this provides controllable illumination with a main light and a fill-in light to reduce shadows. The unit is surprisingly manoeuvrable when chasing butterflies from flower to flower, although I do get some strange looks from passers by (but that may be nothing to do with my photography...).
More recently I have been using Canon's MT-24EX Twin Lite macro flash system, which comprises two ETTL flash guns (exposure controlled by the camera) and mounted on a circular rail that clips onto the front of the macro lens. This does not give the same spread of light as the swan arms, but is far more convenient to use.
Ideally I like to use a third flash gun to illuminate the background, but that isn't always possible and the occasional dark or black background has to be accepted.
Photographing and Printing
Prior to 2003 I used slide film (transparencies) rather than print film for a number of reasons. The positive image is viewable instantly, can be projected for viewing by large audiences, can still be used to produce prints, and in the wonderful world of club competitions and photographic exhibitions gave me the choice of entering either print or slide classes. I have tried a number of films but I settled on Fujichrome Provia100 Professional film, a fine-grained 100 ASA slide film that gave me a good colour balance. I bulk-loaded my film cassettes from 30m rolls and I developed the exposed films myself using Photocolor Chrome 6 chemicals. I did this as soon as I could after taking the pictures, as I am usually impatient to see the results of my efforts - and if for some reason the results were disappointing, I might have the chance to try again.
Now that I have moved to digital photography I no longer have the option of slides (although it is possible to have slides produced from a digital file) and so am concentrating fully on prints and the internet for output. I have to say that I always prefered prints to slides as there is something very satisfying in holding a successfully printed and mounted photograph, so I haven't missed slides that much.
Until recently I produced 16"x12" Cibachrome (Ilfochrome) prints in my traditional "wet" darkroom (actually my blacked-out kitchen - a benefit of being single! :-). Now I "develop" my pictures in a computer and output them at "Super A3" size on an Epson 2100 photo printer.