Musical!

Last week I had the pleasure to hear a concert by the Orquesta de Costa Rica with vocals by La Colmena Performance Arts Center. They chose to sing pieces from well-known Musicals and did so remarkably well.


That day I was carrying my Olympus Pen-F and a couple of fast primes and, even though we were seated towards the back of the theater, I decided to do some viewer’s perspective photos. When I have this camera in my hands and am shooting people I always end up doing black and whites: it must be the looks of the camera body…


What you see here are not the in-camera black and whites as I had to do a little processing and cropping. If I’d had a chance to frame better the photos by moving around I’d probably be using the superb Pen-F originals.


I feel my approach gives the performer’s photos a nice classical look, but… what do you think?

Selected pieces from Musicals performed by Centro de Artes Escénicas La Colmena and the Orquesta de Costa Rica

Ultrawide Rectilinear or Fisheye lenses: to defish or not to defish

An ultrawide lens (anything below 24 mm in 35 mm equivalent format) can provide a sweeping view of an open landscape, but I also find it important for crowded forest and tree covered environments.

The widest rectilinear lens I own is an 11 mm lens by Irix and it is an excellent lens, but these pictures are made with other lenses. They are landscapes I made while testing an ultra wide 11 mm lens by Venus Optics on my Z7 alongside a 12 mm Samyang fisheye lens. I no longer own either lens but the photos I made that afternoon are good representatives of what can be done with these optics.

Pastures photo taken with a fisheye lens. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A fisheye lens allowed me to frame the pastures with he branches literally above my head. By keeping the horizon near the center of the frame, it remains straight on a fisheye lens image.

One thing I sometimes dislike about ultra wide rectilinear lenses is that elements in the corners of the image can look too stretched, like sucked into the frame. Because of this, I sometimes actually prefer using a fisheye lens: when used carefully, one can can hide the strong deformation we associate with their extreme projection. By keeping the horizon near the center of the frame, it remains straight on a fisheye lens image. In other cases, the image can be reprojected (defished as some people call it) to avoid the curved corners.

RReprojected fisheye photo of pastures. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Removing just enough of the fisheye distortion can provide a convincing ultra wide image without the light falloff that plagues rectilinear ultra wide angle lenses in the corners.
Pastures photo with an ultrawide angle lens. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A photo using the rectilinear Laowa 11 mm lens works fine and takes advantage of the stretching of the lower tree branch to give depth to the composition.

You can be the judge now and decide if this approach works as I really wanted to include nearby elements from a restricted point of view: I was literally shooting from a barbed-wire fence in all the photos I show here.

Have you tried using fisheye lenses for landscape photos?

Comparison of images made using the 11 mm rectilinear lens and a 12 mm fisheye. Photos by Eduardo Libby
Here are two images made from about the same viewpoint using the 11 mm rectilinear lens and the 12 mm fisheye. They are clearly not identical but both are very usable.
Do you like one better than the other?

Slow shutter speed (and life!) on a tropical beach

After seeing, and taking, many snapshots of the water on a sunny, tropical beach it is not difficult to notice that the water always looks frozen and the movement and intensity of the moment is missing.

Continue reading Slow shutter speed (and life!) on a tropical beach

Tiny wonders

The first time I saw photos of Slime Mold fruiting bodies, the equivalent of fungal caps, I couldn’t help thinking about life on another planet. The fact that these organisms actually turn into a slowly creeping slime when they are not in the reproductive stage sure helps my mental image of something alien.

These sporangia, a more technical name for the reproductive structure, are barely over one millimeter in length (one mm is about 1/24th of an inch). I am not very good at finding them, but there is a large and enthusiastic group of hobbyists and scientists that are constantly publishing photos of Myxomycetes, the technical name for the Slime Molds… they are good at finding these little marvels!

Arcyria incarnata. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Arcyria incarnata sporangia: they remind me of a group of friends gossiping.

These are among the first ones I have photographed. As you know, I am more of a landscape/wildlife photographer but… Hey, one must adapt to pandemic life! I was lucky to spot them growing on some rotting wood logs on the back of my garden.

Arcyria incarnata sporangia. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Arcyria incarnata sporangia or spore-bearing structures after opening.

My friend Federico Valverde was nice enough to identify them for me. He is a retired biologist that has found new fire for his scientific brain finding Slime Molds and photographing them. These beautiful Slime Mold species are named Arcyria incarnata.

Very fitting.

I will try to remember it.

Nice beach, Nice sunset, Nice Black and White

One of the prettiest beaches on Costa Rica’s west coast is on the inside of a circular bay that gives protection to the swimmers from the open ocean waves and is named Carrillo Beach.

Continue reading Nice beach, Nice sunset, Nice Black and White

Three Hummingbirds

Visiting a new area in Costa Rica nearly always means a change in the avian species around. Granted, some birds seem to pop up anywhere but there are always nice surprises.

The place we were staying was on the slope of a hill, with a long balcony overlooking the coast. A few feet below the balcony the Stachytarpheta shrubs were busy with hummingbirds flying non stop.

Photo of a Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on Stachytarpheta nectar. Image by Eduardo Libby
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on Stachytarpheta nectar.

The high viewpoint revealed the beautiful design on the tails of female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. But I was not too successful in getting eye-level shots of the males… well, I already had those anyway from their seasonal visit to my garden’s Stachytarpheta.

Photo of a Cinnamon Hummingbird. Image by Eduardo Libby
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Blue-throated Goldentail. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Blue-throated Goldentail perched on a dry Stachytarpheta inflorescence.

Soon I noticed two species I had not photographed before: the Cinnamon Hummingbird and the Blue-throated Goldentail. The first, kindly chose a well-located perch and posed for me. The Goldentail I shot perched on a dry inflorescence… enough to show its blue throat, but it was again the elevated viewpoint from the balcony that provided a nice picture of both its thick red bill and its magnificent Golden Tail.

Nice too for just a beach trip!

Male Blue-throated Goldentail. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Male Blue-throated Goldentail.

If you want to see more Costa Rican Birds, do visit my Website by clicking here.

Grabbing Fruits on the Fly… literally

Every year, when migratory Vireos are getting ready to fly back to their breeding habitats in North America, they make sure to feed on the seeds of Bocconia frutescens. When the fruits open, the black seeds, covered partially with a red aril, are suspended on the middle of a ring… ready to eat.

Continue reading Grabbing Fruits on the Fly… literally

Birds in flight: Olympus, Nikon and the swallows

As you frame the flying bird, put a focusing sensor on its eye, initiate tracking and compose your photo so there is space on the front… ‘Yeah right…. I shoot Swallows around here!’

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How good is in-camera focus stacking?

Even though not all digital cameras offer automated focus-stacking of focus-bracketed exposures, the Panasonic and Olympus micro four thirds cameras have been doing it for several years so far. I wanted to compare it with computer focus stacking and, with my garden orchids blooming, I finally did the test.

Continue reading How good is in-camera focus stacking?

Writings about the art and technique of photography. Mostly with Nikon and Olympus equipment.