Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Wasp's Nest Bloggette

I was looking for something in the attic this morning when I found what looked at first to be a screwed up tissue. What it actually was was the nest if a Paper Wasp. I believe they are made by the wasp from chewed up wood pulp but they are structures of incredible fragility and beauty. Needless to say I thought it would be interesting to try and photograph it. This time out I used a Holga 120N, the most basic camera Holga makes, a plastic lens and no flash (just £28 from!).

This time out though I felt that pinpoint focussing was essential, I could not rely as I have done in the past on taking pictures of subjects that are at an angle to the lens in the sure knowledge that somewhere they will have to be sharp. No, for this I had to be able to get the focus accurate using the magnifying paperweight I used before. The nest is 36mm across, so the picture is not far from a 1:1 reproduction ratio.

Using a tracing paper focus screen again I got the camera set up with the comb sharp and measured carefully, My paperweight has a focal length of exactly 80mm, you cant get a ruler in to measure because it is too long and the camera will be in the way. The way to do it is to cut a strip of card or wood to the right length. Before you load the film you check the sharpness on the focussing screen at the measuring stick distance from the subject.

I think I have demonstrated here that it works, using the stick I have got the inside and the top of the nest sharp, it only needs care and enthusiasm.

Anyway, what I cannot decide is which is better, I like them both, the first because of the way the delicate internal structure is sharp and the second because that same structure is just a soft pattern.

The pictures were taken on Ilford Delta 3200, again the grain really lends itself the both the subject and the method. I'll be writing a short 'how to' guide on starting out with closeup photography to put on my website, I'm just a little concerned at the moment that the results are actually rather better than most people seem to expect from their Holgas but that is a hornets nest I'm quite happy to kick!

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