Saturday, 18 April 2009

Lenses and Pumps

Yesterday was the first sunny day for at least a week and as luck would have it a new pond pump had arrived in the morning. My pond has been without a pump or filtration for over a year. Two identical pumps had failed over the past few years. As is normal both were just past their warranty and the place I bought them from had closed down a while ago. They were not cheap and I had been unimpressed with the price being charged at the local garden centre. In the end I had ordered an Italian made one which looked as though it would do a good job so the first item on the agenda was to get it fixed up and working. After an hour everything was working so now there is water flowing down my little waterfall in to the pond again.

Pond Waterfall

Water goes from the pump into a filter and then to an imitation water hand pump. From that it flows down the waterfall and back into the pond. The birds think the waterfall makes an ideal bath and it is regularly in use for that purpose. The other pipe resting on the side of the waterfall feeds water from a shed roof to help top up the pond. The lump of wood on a pole with a white plastic top is a home made ladybird house though I don't know if it has actually been used as such.

In the pond I saw one of the Common Newts come up for a gulp of air.

Common Newt

Another arrival through the post yesterday morning was a macro lens I had ordered from Hong Kong. I had decided that whenever possible I would leave my main lens attached to the camera. The 70-200mm IS lens does not have a macro facility so the nearest I can get to anything is about four feet. That is not too much of a problem as the zoom along with the sharpness of the optics and the 15Mpixels of the camera allows some fairly small crops. Anyway for the princely sum of $9.99 including postage I though I would order a +4 macro lens which screws to the front of the main lens. It works better than I expected at the price. It is useless at full zoom but at 70mm it allows me to stand a lot closer and doubles the size of what is being photographed. The depth of field is less but it is sharp and clear. How do they do it at the price?

Some examples with the +4 in place: Apart from cropping they are otherwise untouched.

From Blogger Pictures

Daisy in the Lawn




These are all still crops but not such small ones as would have been needed with the main lens by itself.

After I had taken the macro lens off the camera I spotted a bee which refused to show me its head. Having perused a few identification sites I think it is a mining bee but then again I could be wrong.

Many thanks to Dean from MostlyMacro for letting me know that the bee looks like the Common Carder Bee. I'm learning - slowly.



The weather looks like it has returned to dull and dreary again but at least I got one sunny day.


  1. Wow John, what brilliant close-ups. I would be well happy with these! The detail for small wildlife especially will ensure you get a lot of use out of this lens. I'm looking forward to see all your future shots - don't like beetles though ;-)

    I do like your pond, fingers crossed that this pump will do the trick. I cannot imagine having newts visiting my garden - they always seem quite prehistoric to me. Enjoy your weekend :-D

  2. Thanks for that Shirl. I like to get close to things and see the detail. I've just received a decent second hand microscope so I can experiment. I think I have definitely reached the second childhood stage of life!
    The pond actually looks nicer in a photo than it does in real life but it does its job of attracting wildlife.
    I don't know about beetles but there won't be many pictures of moths. Even a picture of one makes me go cold all over, never mind being close to the real thing!

  3. They are impressive close ups John, I'm tempted myself. I'm guessing you've got the 50D? If it is, same camera as me. Can't fault it.
    I do like your pond set up, with the waterfall. The sound of trickling water in the garden, on a warm sunny day; perfect!

  4. Beautiful images John, the waterfall looks great.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Holdingmoments. Having examined the full size photos there is a bit of degradation to the fine detail. I think this is partly the distance the close-up lens is from the main lens. First there's the UV filter and then I replaced the awful plastic hood with a rubber one which folds back. This has a thread which takes the CU lens so I don't have to take the hood off. That, and of course a lens which cost under 7 pounds. It is still a lot better quality than I expected at the money.
    I had though about extension tubes or a 1.4x teleonverter but I don't want to be taking the main lens on and off. Also I'm sure both of those methods lose a stop or two.
    Yes. It is the 50D

  6. I've got the 1.4x teleonverter, and rarely use it for the same reason as yourself; I don't want to be taking the main lens on and off. And yea, you lose a stop. I've got the 100-400L pretty much permanently fixed to the body. :)
    Still worth considering though I think.

  7. Oh dear I'm starting to think I should give up and leave it to the experts John!!! I don't think I will ever achieve any photos like yours, they are so beautiful, and your years of experience with photography is very evident.
    I love your pond, the newt is adorable and the bloom photos are just lovely.
    Could that be your reflection I spotted in one of the photos? Unless my imagination is working overtime I think we may have caught a glimpse of Midmarsh John!!!

  8. fantastic close-up shots! Sounds like good value for money aswell

  9. Thank you Snowbabies. I must admit I do like that tatty waterfall. It's well weathered and blends in quite well.

    Thanks Chris - I'm well satisfied.

    HM: I keep thinking about a teleconverter but I also have a 100-400mm though it is a bit on the heavy side and as I usually have Bobby with me it just gets too much to hang on to if I then add a tripod.

    ShySongbird. Of course you don't think about giving up. As long as you enjoy what you are doing, stay with it. You get lots of lovely comments on your blog. You should see the number of reject piccies here. I'm lucky enough to have the time to keep trying. My problem is with the words. It can take hours of thinking before I get a few sentences together.
    Yes - there are about seven murky shots of the shadowy photographer in the bubbles, well spotted. You can also see my mast and a couple of my amateur radio aerials. There is even that strange orange orb in the sky which was noticeable by its absence again today.

  10. Amazing clarity with the close-ups! Keep the newt photos coming - we have them in one of our local ponds, but they're very shy. When the kids get older perhaps we'll have to have our own pond.

  11. The close-up shots are definitely 'Wow!' I like the little waterfall and pond. Hope the pump works better this time than the others.

  12. Mick: Thank you - I never thought of me having a wow factor at my age :) There is something soothing about the trickle of water and the glint of Sunlight on moving water - very calming.

    Beatingthebounds: The newts do usually disappear at a great rate of knots. Just occasionally one will stay in view for a short while. I think it is when the Sun is just right and they possibly don't notice me. I hope I can catch one or two clear shots after they leave the pond for the Summer, if I can find them.

  13. Fantastic pictures John and excellent clarity. The newt looks as though it's suspended in mid air (or should I say water!)and the detail on the bee is wonderful (as is the bee!!)

    It sounds as though there's at least three of us using the 50D with the 100-400!!

    I agree about the weight though. I do carry a tripod at times but have a camera bag that will accommodate the tripod so it's not too bad.

    I'd also thought about a teleconverter but with a max aperture of 5.6 on the lens and then having to lose a stop (or two) it would mean good light and a tripod. Not good for the opportunist shots!

  14. Hi Tricia: Thanks for the nice comments. I was fortunate the Sun put in an appearance that day which brings out the colours as well as giving some reasonable shutter speeds.

    I haven't used the 100-400 since I bought the image stabilised 70-200. It is f4 maximum right through and so incredibly sharp (when I get things right!) that I can take quite reasonable small crops from photos. It is fairly heavy but much more manageable and I have a bag in which the combination of lens and body just fits.

    Did you get your bean bag? I keep meaning to get one for when I go to Covenham Reservoir as there is a concrete wall to rest things on. There I would consider taking a 400mm as the birds can be so far away.

  15. Hi John.
    Some wonderful macro shots, there. BTW, your bee looks like the Common Carder Bee.

  16. Hi Dean. Thanks for dropping by and leaving the nice comment. Also thanks for the identification on the bee. I find it so confusing looking through dozens of photos and of course they are never looking in the same direction which makes it even harder.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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