Saturday, October 13, 2018

Juicy Dinner

Well, you can truly see the process this insect uses to eat, just like a spider, I guess. Pump your dinner full of digestive juices, then suck’er dry. You can even see the bubbles inside the prey insect, an interesting shot if a bit gross.

A flash assisted shot, to separate the insect from the background. Bon App├ętit!


James Longster, © 2018

Juicy Dinner

It's My Leaf

I suppose I could have hunted up the name of this fly, but since it was mostly, well completely, the eyes I was interested in, I didn’t. Roger and I finally got our cameras to do what we thought they could do, that is to resolve the facets of a bugs eyes. We have succeeded! Some bugs/insects are much tougher to get than others, at least as Roger has mentioned on his Blog, alive.

We don’t shoot dead bugs and represent them as alive, it the bug is dead, it is part of the “story” of that image. Other than one bug consuming another, every bug we shoot is alive, that makes for some bug that are just pure luck to get that shot, this was not one of them.


James Longster, © 2018

It’s my leaf, and I will sit here if I want to!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Best Seats in the House

The first time Roger and Helene stayed with us after we had moved to Ferry St, we wandered down around the Wabash. This is what we saw down near where the old Brown Street bridge used to be.

It’s just one of those HUmmm, kinda shots.


James Longster, © 2014


Friday, August 24, 2018

Blue on Blue

This is the second of my, bug eyes posts. Once again it is a Damselfly and a Blue one at that, but this one has its eyes in good focus and he was 90deg to me so all of him is in focus. This image is for the eyes, as the pixel dimensions are larger than most screens can handle.

This is one of my best Damselflies so far, though the background is less than interesting. The “EYE” is the test so far of whether or not we go an acceptable shot or not.

I think that my next step after I have gotten all the bug eyes I want (will never happen), will be Focus Stacking. A WHOLE nother world, and MUCH harder, because most bugs don’t sit still long enough to get the number of different DOF(depth of field) shots to stack. We do some of this already, when we are sure that we have gotten the eyes, and conditions do allow for multiple shots at different DoFs.


James Longster, © 2018

Blue, on blue

Monday, August 20, 2018

Will I eat in Time?

Well after Rogers challenge to post an image for our latest escapade, I decided to go ahead and post one of my better images of that day/s adventuring.

This is of course a female Mosquito, the eyes of which are very,Very had to get, without cheating, anesthetizing, or killing then shooting. I saw this one hanging under this leaf, and for some reason I had all my paraphernalia ready to go, in the time my flash could fire recharge and fire again, she had detected my CO2 and came right after me. She had not yet gotten her load of blood for egg production. I had no intent of filling the role of donor for her.

When Roger and I saw the back of the camera, and saw that at 100% we could see the facets we could not believe it. Mosquitos have some of the smallest eyes for body size I have seen in the insect world. Roger will be quick to point out how lucky I was to have everything line up as needed, at the time it was needed, I agree.


James Longster, © 2018

Will I eat in time?

Monday, July 3, 2017

At Deaths Door?

This Damsel Fly was shot on our last day at my friend’s House in Blainville, QC. It was not quite as flighty as most of it brethren and sisteren (funny huh?)

Not much to really say about the bug other than I think that it may have died an early death, because it appears to have a large number of eggs that have been laid on it. Though I don’t think I would like to meet the bug that can lay eggs on one of the most skilled killers in the insect world. I take that back yes I would, camera in hand of course.

image details: Canon 5Ds r, 100mm f2.8 L macro, Shot at F16, Tripod (of course), 580EX strobe, and ISO 400.

James Longster, © 2014


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Crocus, death due to Global Warming.

Well, These Crocus were shot on March 8th, a day that got to 60°F. here. Today, however, it is 28°, and looking at the teens for lows for the next 4-5 days, long enough and low enough to be a disaster for many fruit trees and flowering landscape bushes. So in an effort to save the plants that are already attempting to flower we will be covering, or trying to cover, several of our new landscape bushes. Hopefully this will be enough to save them.

In the meantime, I shot these, in my standard “DarkerImage” style, played a bit with the color, not much, but some.

James Longster, © 2014

Too Early

Monday, January 9, 2017

Canyons of Indiana: yes, we do have more than corn.

This Shot was taken with my friend Roger. We were hoping for more Ice . . . too warm. I did find one Ice sickle which I got one decent shot of, then Roger say what I was shooting he rushed over, got set up, and the ice sickle fell to the rocks . . . .

But, since this canyon has its own micro climate, there was still a fair amount of color, and the interesting rock formations So we were only somewhat disappointed.

This is a four shot HDR (High Dynamic Range) it is a combination of all 4 images combining the best exposed elements of the four images, producing one image that is somewhat flat (requiring more post processing to give a bit more feeling of depth. I will be continuing in that effort, but I decided to post it anyway, just to see the reaction.

For those who like numbers, this image is 853.3 MB, @16bit depth. printable at 300 dpi, and 55” in the horizontal length. Don’t need 300dpi, but I have it.

James Longster, © 2014

Canyons of Indiana

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Subject Matter:

That is the question, what is the subject here, the leaf, or the bug? I could have made the bug stand out more, but I think I like the confusion. It was completely lit from underneath the leaf with my 580EX off camera, of course. Some people will think I didn’t do a good job on the bug, when I meant it to be a questionable image. It is questionable since most shots of bugs are obviously intended to be, well bug shots. This one is more open to interpretation. The leafs is bright and detailed and the bug is less so, unless viewed at 100%, but you are not seeing that. This is a full frame shot, just reduced to 2400x1600px. It was fun to play with, and is an interesting if not perfect image.

I may remove that post in the future, if I become less pleased with it. I do have a traditional bug shot of this baby. But it is not really an interesting bug, the leaf underlit was. So I guess it is up to you, good , bad, or just not well done.

James Longster, © 2014

Subject Matter

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Aracnide Transparency

Well, I am continuing with my experimentation with my new equipment, and my off camera flashing for macro work. This Spider was, I thought, a cast off chitin shell from a molt, until it started moving. I got pretty busy then, as it was about to start raining (I got an alert from my phone). This is once again a hand head flash macro shot, I am finding that dealing with the flash, focus, and camera angle would do an octopus credit.

The last post and this post were both shot at the same place: The “Celery Bog”, the last remnants of a huge inland wetlands that used to cover about four counties North of Lafayette, IN. This wetlands has about 200 recorded bird species that have been spotted there, unfortunately with my largest lens being a 200mm I have not been able to get any really good shots of these birds,

Bugs and flowers, now that is a different tail. Plenty of all of those. I saw today the largest Mantis I have ever seen, 100% of my sensor at 3 feet with a 100mm macro, but he/she was losing so fast from plant to plant and the wind was buffeting the plant life so badly that I never did get a good shot of it . . . . DAMN.

So here is the spider I caught, for your enjoyment, or not, personally i like spiders, as long as they stay outside! Not my idea of an Ideal bed mate, if you get my drift . . . .

James Longster, © 2014

Aracnide Transparency

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Purple Haze

Well it has been a month or better since I wrote/posted in the "Darker Image”, this is mainly because I have been a bit disappointed in my results over the last several years, not in all aspects, just mainly in the Macro end of my shooting. This summer while Roger and Helene, our dear friends from the cold lands to our North (Quebec to be exact) were visiting Roger and I got a little more serious with my Canon 100mm Macro

NEW BODY: The 5Ds R was the first step, increase the pixels available, get a deeper crop (larger subject that is). Got it! It IS worth the money, and that is a fact. Either one of them is a monster of tries in a small(ish) bag.

NEW TRIPOD HEAD Next, my tripod: the legs are good strong enough and ridged enough, the head, well that was another matter, hard to use, sags with my 70-200mm Zoom on it, and just generally lame. So, more money 22lb Monfrotto ball head, smooth and ridged, an absolute necessity for macro work.

RAIL FOCUSER: I did a bit of studying, as my macro work is a self taught thing, Were there any tricks out there that Roger had not showed me, or that even he did not know? Enter the rail focuser, I did not buy the most expensive, but I bought a decent one. Why a rail focus tool? Well I found that under certain kinds of conditions a rail focuser can really bring the tack sharp aspects of an image. The trick is to set our camera at the 1 to 1 ratio that the lens is capable of, then go manual focus and use the rail to move the camera in and out to adjust the sharpness of the exact part of the object that you are shooting. For instance you know that the “In focuser plane is approximately 1/3 in front of the plane of focus, and 2/3rds behind. so you focus on the eyes of the bug and you wast part of your DOF on air in front of your subject. With the rail focuser you can take the focus point and move it a mm behind the eyes and get the eyes AND more of the body behind. It is also an excellent tool for precise Focus Staking.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens: L glass, always a good bet. Well, one of the few exceptions to that IS the 100mm Macro standard lens, that is an awesome lens, if you did not get a bad copy, like I did. So, anyway, I got the new lens to replace the old lens, and in this case the “New Boss is NOT the same as the old Boss” looking good so far.

The weather has been way to windy and I was not going to go out after work and try to do some good work, fighting for the last of the good light, and hoping to to get a lull in the wind. So I went out today: Lousy light VERY overcast, and still 15+ mile per hour winds, but hey I had the time to sit there and just shoot (Live view), so I did.

All of this is by way of introduction to the first Macro shot I am putting up for your viewing pleasure, it defiantly qualifies as a Darker Image. Called simply, “Purple Haze”.

James Longster, © 2014

Purple Haze:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hands On The Canon 5DS R, First Thoughts.

Well, no doubt it is an excellent camera, all the hype lived up to, most of the issues not yet seen, and one no-one has talked about: how poorly the menu seems to be designed.

This is supposed to be a pro level camera, yet to a large degree it appears that Canon wanted to “Dumb Down” the skill necessary to make a good image. This camera, I own the 5DS R, has so many “auto modes” on it it took me two days to figure out how to run this monster in full manual. Now to give them their due, most of these special setting are very much for dedicated special uses. For instance there is an Auto focus setting in the menu that is spacific to accelerating/decelerating objects. You say so, my camera does that, but does it? tracking a car going 170mph around a track is NOT tracking an accelerating or decorating object, one is steady state and is very easy for software to anticipate where an object will be .75sec in the future, most decent cameras can do this. This feature is trying to extrapolate acceleration. For instance a car comes out of a corner at110mph, by the time he passes you at midfield he is pushing 200mph, the processor in the camera is focusing in microseconds from point to point trying to figure out what the constantly increasing speed will be so that it can at anytime you want hit the shutter release and the camera has anticipated the location and will pop the shutter. This is calculus in you camera.

So, it is a complex, piece of equipment, but does it do the job? Well that depends I suppose on what you are expecting it to do. I do just a little bit of just about everything. Weddings (I stay away from them as much as I can, but that is one of the places where you can make contacts, and money), Nature, Fine art, documentaries, Edgy Fine Art, Portraiture, architecture, and anything else that hits my fancy bone. I will probably even shoot one race this year for my step daughter, just to try out that anticipatory focus this wonderful monster has built into it, to see how well it works.

But . . . . When conditions are the way that they should be and this assumes that you are using at least L-glass Lenses, personally I find that with Photoshop CC2015, a “Prime” lens is no longer an absolute necessity. one caveat, then it comes to 300mm+ telephotos NOTHING beats a Prime lens. Fo anything else Canon’s L-Glass lenses do an excellent job. When I open a file in Camera RAW it is automatically posted to 12,000 x 8,000px and 300dpi. As long as the light was good CR and Noiseware get rid of all the color noise I could want leaving me with a Huge Printable image. I would not be scared to have Image Wizards print one of these images at 6 feet, landscape edge, very easily.

All I can really say for sure is that when the camera is sooting at an ISO of 400 or less, it is easy cheese to get a huge perfect image, beyond that number be prepared to work a little more for your image, but it is still quite doable.

Would I recommend this to a friend? YES, if you are willing to buy all the other equipment that is necessary to get a good image, including the post processing that is inevitable.

James Longster, © 2014

Lone Star

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pure Digital: Colors17

I have resisted posting any of my Digital art up to this point on this blog, just because they were not of a Photographic nature, no camera involved, but at the request of one of my friends I am relenting on this rule just to punish the people that want to see the one I am going to put up.

This image is called simply “Colors17” the other versions carry the name “colors17.x.x, depending on where they were in the process. I am not completely sure that I am done with the “17” series or not, we shall see.

This image is currently out to “Image Wizards” being printed, using the Aluminum Dye Sublimation process, and should be here by 4/29/2016. I am truly excited!

James Longster, © 2014

Digital Art: Colors17

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dead House, Dead Life, Dead Dreams.

Roger Gauthier challenged me to start posting on his new Artphotokebek FB page, so I did, like you do when asked. I put a FB resolution (gag) images of one of my Dead Farm Houses up, and of course it did it no justice. So . . . I went back and searched through Memory Lane (my Hard Drive in reality) and started digging up those lost memories.

As I believe I have mentioned in several other places, I have been documenting, as best and safely as I can, the final Death throws of the American family farm. What I mean is, the people are long gone now, but in some, out-of-the-way places, the building (homes) that housed these laughing generations of children and parents still stand as mute testimony to what we have allowed to die, in the name of MORE.

In this case it was a set shot, doe as part of a project for one of my classes at Herron, so this is a scan of the 200ASA B&W negative. so some grain is to be expected, and to my belief, adds rather than detracts for the emotional impact of the image. I think that all over the country sciens pretty much like this happened at some point need the end.

I have several, pretty sad and depressing images I could show you, but That would lead me down a road I would rather not take this blog, at least not at this time. So, instead, I will use a B&W image taken while documenting this afrontery to humanity, but not as dark as they come, just a bit, it is in B&W, and B&W carries emotions like water carries fish.

The link below is the link on youtube for the video if you don’t like Rock or Bob Dylan don’t look at it.


James Longster, © 2014

Dead Dreams

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Land of the Lost

In 2003 I had bought my first Digital Camera while taking the first digital Photography course that Purdue University was offering, there were but 6 of us in that class, I was the only one with my own camera, a Olympus E10 at that time. The rest of the class were using, I believe, Nikon Coolpix 5700s, at 5mgp, mine was only a 4.2mgp. But it was a SLR, but had a dedicated lens. I was an Excellent lens however, it had a 35mm x 140mm lens with a bit of digital zoom thrown in, it had very good reviews by and so I dropped the 2kUSD because I had decided that Wet was dead, and Digital was the future.

So in 2004 My wife and I went and spent a month on an Island called Tancook, NS about 7 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia out in the last of the Gulf Stream (before it turns into the North Atlantic Current) the island is only 3 miles long, and one and a half wide, but it is very unique in its climate, the East coast has the same zone as Tennessee, USA, and the West coast 1.5 miles away has the same zone as costal Maine. In other words Basil will grow well on the East coast, but not a chance on the West. Strange Huh?

This is a shot I took with that E-10 so I’m sorry it is not as large as the other images I have shown you but it is still a good one I think. It was taken in the Middle of the island, just across from the islands cemetery. If any of you want a place that is in North America yet at times feels European, this is one place you could go, Isolated yet still connected. Sadly it is changing rapidly. I am not going to go into what is happening there, but time is short for them.

So sad; Roger I wish we had been able to go together this time, instead of so many years later, after the changes had started.


James Longster, © 2014

Lupin In The Fog

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Room For Art

Back in 2005, my wife and I were staying a an Artists and Writers retreat in the Berkshire Mts of Western Mass, in a little town called Ashfield. A very rare and different kind of place, around 4 or so in the afternoon 5-6 Harley-Davidsons would roar into town, and at 11P.M. they would putt quietly out of town. But all that has little to do with this image.

What it had to do with, was that we were in Mass, and one of my wife’s school friends lived in Worcester, Mass and this is her front room of the time. It was a bright day and I was using my 20D with no tripod, it seems that that is my standard affaire, Roger Gauthier would agree I think. But with some manipulation I came up with a usable image, as a treatment all I did was B&W mask and let the colored layer come through where I wanted it to.

Oh, yea, and it’s dark.


James Longster, © 2014

A room for the Arts

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chameleon of the Air

It is too bad that all the killer bug sprays we use, Kill the most efficient Mosquito eater in the world, If we had brains we’d be dangerous.

Anyway, this was taken some years ago with my 20D and a 300mm L glass tele, luckily it was not windy, and the sun was in just the right place, to get this beauty. The green ones are relatively rare in comparison to others, at least around the area I was shooting that day.

I like dragon flies, They are Very old, and very successful as a species, and as part of the dominant phylum, at least by total weight on this planet, they are among the most successful. You want to not have Mosquitos, get some dragonfly eggs and inoculate your local pond. They eat them, the blood suckers, in the water when young and in the air when they earn their wings.

I have had varying success shooting these insects, the smaller dragonflies are not too bad to shoot, the bigger ones don’t land often and several types roost high in trees, making it a real issue getting to them. This one is of the smaller variety, the big ones that I have had little success with are in the swampy areas of Massachusetts and are easily 3 inches long. Man I want a couple of those to eat my “bad” bugs.


James Longster, © 2014

Chameleon of the Air

Our Heads In The Sand

This image is about (to me) motivations, and what a group will do in the name of a way of life. I won’t go into the base image here, as I hope all of you know/have seen: “The Lady of Shalott.” I will go into what I have done to it and why.

I Don’t Like War For MONEY! It is that simple. World War II, was necessary, everything else has been for Money, in some cases well disguised, in most, Blatant. The big problem is that our government and the Money behind it has pulled the wool over the eyes of a large, way too large, portion of the American peoples eyes. They have made most people believe that there is a real moral basis for these wars in the far East, when in reality there is only one reason for being there in the first place: OIL! If it were not for our gluttonous need for gasoline we would not give a damn about the sand over there. But there are real moral reasons for being there some say. BS I say.

The world is full of problems: Aids, Human trafficking, Environmental destruction on a world wide scale, Climate change (it does exist, FACT), ongoing continual prejudice based on every difference between peoples you can imagine. Yet here we are, in a big sandbox spending Lives and money to just continue keeping our heads in the sand instead of facing the real reason for spending those lives and money, and that reason is MONEY. War is money. Money to burn, because we have "roads to drive.”

So, I took and image of human death and destruction and tiled it, then put it behind her head so she could completely ignore what is going on around her and continue to have a pleasant float, and lunch.

So we do what the lady in the images does, we put blinders on, and go about our daily lives of not seeing the truth of things. Or maybe it’s just because we don’t want to get rid of our nice comfortable Escalade . . . . . .


James Longster, © 2014

Our Heads In The Sand

Never Done, Ever Young: an Ode to Joy

This image was taken at/during the “Mosey Down Main street” in 2014. Unfortunately, there was a general dearth of photogenic situations and people at this particular “Mosey,” But I did get there a bit early, and got this shot while they were setting up.

This image talks to me about the ways in which we chose to perceive our aging. As I looked at these women I saw a group that had chosen to “Be in the moment,” bright, alive, active and exuberant! They could have been at home doing mundane things around the house, but instead that chose to be ‘Out There” living, living with Joy, Laughter, and Movement.

The image itself is, I guess, just a photo of some people with a colorful background, other than the name I gave the shot and this post, it is just a photo. I could have cropped down to just above the curb to get rid of that shallow diagonal, But in doing that I would have be doing more of what I don’t truly like to do, follow the rules. In this case the curb angle detracts, some would say, from the subjects of the image, because it does draw the eye, but then the colors and the expressions draw you back to the people. so it is a back and forth thing, I like that. I like things that pull your eye from one thing to another, even when it is a WTF kind of thing.

I like images that in some way, to some people, don’t work as a whole. In my view your looking at this image makes you, the observer, the current owner (once “you” are looking at this image I no longer have control and you put your perceptions onto this image) kind of a 'Schrodinger's Cat' scenario. when you look at this image you change it from the image I took to the image you see. “It’s all in your head” they say, and of course that is an absolute truth, it is ALL IN YOUR HEAD.


James Longster, © 2014

Never Done, Ever Young: an Ode to Joy

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Tail Of Two Images

Roger Gauthier of took this shot (he owns the copyright btw) this past year, I believe, but just recently posted it to his Blog, I liked it, so I decided, like I do, to see if I could destroy, or lacking that, completely change, the tone of the image. I think I have succeeded in that respect.

As Roger and I, and all really acceptable photographers will tell you, (over and over till you get sick of hearing it) that light (without which there would be no image) makes the photograph, painting, whatever succeed or fail. I could easily make an argument for light being the end all and be all for ANY KIND OF ART. So I will.

Take a nice beautiful 7 carrot blue-white diamond, put that diamond in really bad light and what do you have? A rock, or worse yet just some well cut glass. The point being that everything we perceive with our eyes needs light reflecting off of a surface for us to see it; change the light, change what you see. Now the game has changed, Now that we have invented the “transparency,” we have radically changed how we can see, perceive, and interpret color and shape. We have taken the need for “being there,” at the moment of occurrence, to being able see or witness something at a later date.

We no longer need light hitting an object and bouncing off of it to “see” something; we can put a light source behind some kind of transparent medium, that has variations of color or of grey that light can travel through and there you have it. You now have a representation of something—it is not the Thing though. Once you leave behind the object that light is actually bouncing from to your eyes, and move on to this other method/mode of perception, you rely on someone else’s IDEA/conception of what this object was, or felt like to the person who created the IMAGE of the object, at that moment in time! This is very important. Once you are not looking at the object yourself, you are looking at someone else’s interpretation of that object!

So, enter Photoshop, and its lessers, and the ability to, for lack of a better word, lie. Well, isn’t that one of the big complaints? Especially by those who have noted some of the deleterious effects of its use in much of advertising, and I DO agree with them in this, Photoshop has been used to make people appear more perfect than is attainable without endangering a person’s life. But, I am not here to talk about that, that is a different subject, and one I have hit on multiple times already.

The reason for Photoshop to even exist is because of that backlit transparency development. We, I, change what was, to what “may have been/could be” by moving light and color, Photoshop allows us to do this; not only does it allow us to do this but it lets us do this with such precision that 99.9% of the people who see an image of mine will never know (without the metadata to look at) what is “real” and what is not. What do I mean by “real?” Simply, what my camera recorded, with minor adjustment for color, sharpness, lens distortion correction, all attempts on my part to make the image more like what (MY) eyes saw, at the moment I hit the shutter button. A recording of a moment in time, nothing more.

Now we come to the two images that this post is ostensibly about: Roger Gauthier’s Image, his on the left, my version obviously the other. The Pixel count is the same, CMYK (if you work in that space) the same base colors, but greyed or burned, other than that they are the same color. So it IS the same image. Well no it was. Now It should at lease Feel Different, I hope very different. I did hold back somewhat, or not hold back but backtracked in my history to the point that you see, because I had gotten to the point of adding things that did NOT belong in an image I had chosen to just modify. I had gotten to the point of creating a whole new image, and that was not my intent.

Emotional content/feel, those are what Roger and I created. To me his image is light and positive, lighter colors with some intense reds in places, not a hot red but a living red as in a rose. This is a place of color and life. At this moment, there are not many people around, but I can see that at times there would be, and they would enjoy the area, light and bright, with implications for social interaction. In short, a place to “enjoy” the process of moving through.

My version on the other hand, is not currently a place of joy. Maybe it was, maybe it will be again, but not now, not at this moment. This is a place to move through, to pick up the pace, not to linger, not to stop and have a conversation. Echoes are more muffled, by the high shadows, sounds don’t carry as far, they are absorbed in the darker reaches. Even the destination is somewhat in question it is a deeper red, an angry red. To me this space says move on, go, get where you want to be, just not here. GO!

Color: it’s a lot of fun to mess with, and an easy way to mess with peoples emotions.

James Longster, © 2015

A Tail Of Two Images.