zaterdag 28 februari 2009

Some more "Focus Stacking"

Have been experimenting a little more with "focus stacking" and this time instead of using the Photo Acute program i usually use for this job i have tried stacking within the new Adobe Photoshop CS4 stacking tool. It works through Bridge in CS4 where you load the images in layers in Photoshop and then you align them and stack them and i must say i am pretty pleased with the results!

Here's a stack of 3 images (see below) of pollen of a stamper of a crocus flower. These pollen are around 1/10th of a millimeter and are hard to get into focus. I used the 1D Mark III combined with a 2x Teleconverter, and 96mm of extension tubes and a macro rail in order to get this extreme magnification. Perhaps stacking more images would have provided even more depth of field but for now this was a nice excercise.

Here's the images i used to get the stacked result above:

All where shot at F11-1/200 sec-200 ISO-macro rail-Gary Fong Lightsphere-home made bracket.

vrijdag 27 februari 2009

Just some Flowers....

Have not had much time to shoot anything today as i was stuck to home due to workload.
Did a couple of flower shots to test some different light angles and flash types.

Most of these where shot with the Canon 1DMarkIII, Canon 1,4x TC, 56mm of Soligor Extension Tubes, and a Olympus 1.7x TC and a diffused Vivitar ringflash wich i handheld from different angles.

Unfortunately the photographs shown on my Blog get heavily compressed so the quality is much less then in the original pictures.

Hope i will find some more time to go out soon...

woensdag 25 februari 2009

My Nemesis....

For many years i have been trying to get a decent shot of a Great-spotted Woodpecker and have failed at most attempts...
My good friend and fellow nature photographer Bart Stornebrink had a garden at the edge of some woodland and had invited me to photograph his regularly visiting Great-spotted Woodpecker several times but i have only got a snapshot of it just before Bart moved house..

Lucky for me Bart moved to an even better place in the woods and has made another set-up where he has diverse birds coming in for lunch amongst wich the elusive Great-spotted Woodpecker. This time i came prepared and had a vision of how to photograph the Woodpecker and if it would land on the perch i would be ready for it...
After just an hour and many Blue Tits, Great Tits and Nuthatches there he was landing right where i wanted him! And....finally..i got the shot i was after!

We had a blast with about 20 visiting species today so perhaps i will post some of them later on.
For some of Bart's work have a look here:

dinsdag 24 februari 2009

A day at the Oostvaarders Plassen

Spent the day today at nature reserve the Oostvaarders Plassen together with Jaco Ottevanger who is doing an internship with me this week. The Oostvaarders Plassen is one of the largest reserves we have in The Netherlands and it is one of my favorite places to visit in wintertime.

My intention was to try and get close to a Rough-legged Buzzard wich had been seen in the area several times and we got lucky as it flew past my car and landed in a perch only 15 meters away. Besides the Rough-legged Buzzard there are always regular Buzzards to be found and another species on my wish list was the Red Deer who tend to stay hidden between the reed beds. Besides the Red Deer we also spotted some Roe Deer.

At the end of the day we spotted some Red Deer on the edge of the reserve and again we where quite lucky as they where all large males with beautifull antlers.
Here's some of today's results;

Focus Stacking

One of the things wich intrigue me a lot is "focus stacking". It is a technique to solve the age old problem of limited depth of field in macro technique. In maco photography the depth of field is often extremely thin and when using large apertures and shooting objects from an angle there are always parts of the subject wich will be unsharp.

This is not always an issue as limited depth of field can provide us with gorgeous shots where for instance only the eyes of your subject are within focus. However in macro photography it is often a golden rule to get as much sharp as possible (preferebly with a soft background). The only things left to do are making sure your subject is absolutely parallel to the sensor've guessed it.....focus stacking. Ofcourse another option is to set you F-number to F32, but then you will loose that smooth backdrop.

Here's an example of a subject i photographed from an angle showing what happens when you shoot at F9 to get a soft background and as you can see due to the length of the subject you loose a lot of sharpness and detail in the further parts of this subject.

Now when i start photographing the middle and lower section of the subject in 3 more frames as shown here below we have a set to start focus stacking. Ofcourse you can stack even more images but i will start by using these 4.

The final result of stacking these images is this:

As you can clearly see the sharpness in this subject has improved a lot and a photograph comes to life wich is technically not possible but looks very good!

There are several focus stacking programs available such as CombineZM, Helocon Focus, or as i have used Photo Acute.

Give focus stacking a try and you will see that it will give you some excellent results!

donderdag 19 februari 2009

Water sculptures

Went on with testing the new macro-flash set-up (see topic below) and this time i took a bowl of water and tested the rig with some falling waterdroplets. Still one of my favorite subjects when there's no insect life around or when i am stuck to my office with a heavy workload and want to take a break..

Changed some of the white balance modes in order to get the color effects i was after.


Was testing a new Macro Set-up today where i have used a styrofoam bowl with a plastic cap (see picture). I cut a hole in the plastic cap to fit the external flash in and use a macro flash bracket wich was made by my good friend Wim wich i altered slightly to get the right angle. There is a Kaiser sort of mini balhead to get the right angle for the flash and an off-camera shoe cord to get the flash working. Ofcourse i work with a remote control in order to get sharp results.The advantage of this set-up is ofcourse to get softer light and less shadows. Looks stupid.....yes it does...but hey...where not doing macro for the looks..

I tested the rig with some waterdrops today and also tried some shots with drops of olive oil and lemon oil to get a nice coloured effect. You gotta do something when there's no insects available...

Here's some of today's results...

dinsdag 17 februari 2009

Canvasprints for sale at

I finally found some time to set-up a webshop linked to the website.
There is a selection of 50 images represented in diverse sizes from 20x30cm up to 90x120cm but actually anything is possible.
Prices are very compettetive and shipping is included.

If you are interested in purchasing one of the prints more info and the webshop can be found over here:

Buy canvas prints by Jeroen Stel

If you have read about the prints over here you can get a one time discount of 5.- euro per print using the following code: BLOGJS

It's all in the details...

Sometimes we are so busy looking for subjects to photograph that we tend to forget what's right in front of us..
Today was such a day when the light was dull, there was "nothing to photograph" and i was not in the best of moods.
Then i thought why not take the macro lens and go out to shoot some detail-shots. It had rained last night so there was an abundance of waterdrops on the plants and i was in for some "abstract" and detail shots.

Besides that it is always a delight to see Snowdrops as they are the first sign of spring to me. So let's forget about the cold and rain and head out for some macro work...

Taking a clear and detailed shot of something is one thing but trying to create a pan-blurred shot wich still looks appealing and artistic is another. So i spent some time on some of those hoping to get something nice out of it.

Here's some of the results:

zaterdag 7 februari 2009

Mickey "Green"-eyes

What allways strikes me the most when photographing Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) is their amazing green eyes. They seem to pierce right trough you and with those bright eyes, funky crest and dark but gorgeous plumage they are great fun to capture.

Not the easiest species to get a good shot of though as they are quite skittish when approached. This one let me get close to him when i was driving his way with my car and allowed me some portrait shots showing that bright green eye well.

Later that afternoon just before the sunset i found one of his cousins perched up in a tree and was able to get some more shots op this lovely species.

vrijdag 6 februari 2009

Mr. Camouflage strikes again

Had a business meeting near my Bittern place today so on the way back home i made a quick stop to see if "Mr. perfect camouflage" would show itself, or better said if i would be able to spot him again...
After driving past the reed bed several times i saw something moving in the reed bed and yes...there he was!

Once they notice your presence they do not run off but rely solely on their camouflage and raise their head to blend into their environment. Their slow movement and stunning feather pattern makes them blen into their habitat perfectly.

donderdag 5 februari 2009

Birds in flight photography

During my workshops i am often asked what the best way is to photograph birds in flight. Well...there are several ways actually. Ofcourse you can set your camera to shutterspeed priority and select all autofocus points, but what if there is a busy background and you wish to have control over the depth of field..?

I prefer to shoot birds in Aperture priority and select only the center auto focus point. Yes that's risky and difficult to keep that single point on the bird but with a little practise you will get the job done! It also makes sure that by using a lower F-number you maintain a cleaner background and faster shutterspeed.

Then there's allways the point of pushing stops in order to get enough light on the bird as too often we tend to underexpose as skies look bright, but then there is no detail left in the bird. So when shooting birds in flight make sure you over-expose one or two stops to get enough detail in.

Kingfisher Publication

One of my Kingfisher images was published in the 2009 calender of the HGON wich stands for Hessische Gesellschaft fur Ornithologie und Naturschutz. They are a German Bird Conservation group and i am delighted to be in their calender amongst some of Germany's best nature photographers.
The image quality of the scan i made is a bit poor but nevertheless...

Here's the image they used for the month of March. (Feels a bit like i am playmate of the month March, but in a good way..)

The website for HGON is for thos of you who are interested in their activities.