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By Chris Pennell

Camera: Nikon D5000

Lens: Nikon 105mm macro lens

Exposure: l/100sec at f/9 (ISO 400)

CHRIS SAYS: This marmalade hover ly sat on a hawkweed was shot at Broadwater Warren RSPB reserve. The image was taken hand-held, in Raw format, then processed using Nikon Capture NX2."

LEE FROST: Colourful, well lit, perfectly exposed, punchy, sharp - this close-up by Chris has a lot go ng for it and shows a high degree of technical skill and patience. Hoverflies aren t the most cooperative subject, but Chris has managed to get what I consider to be an almost perfect shot of one. It s so crisp and detailed. The veins in its wings are as sharp as pencil lines and you can see the individual lenses in its compound eye. The bright-yellow hawkweed flower makes a perfect background to the hoverfly and has been thrown nicely ou: of focus so that it doesn t compete for attention.

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It s a shame that the fly s abdomen isn t as sharp as the rest of it. Using an aperture a stop or two smaller may well have solved that by giving more depth-of-field to work with, but it may also have made the flower less blurred which would have created an even bigger problem. It would also have been nice to have the fly a little further onto the flower so that its wings and body didn t overlap the edges of the petals. But these are minor points and Chris should be happy with this shot. I would be.

Verdict: A well-executed close-up that is sharp and full of colour.

ROSS SAYS: Insects like hoverflies rarely stay still for long, so Chris has done well with this shot. Depth-of-field is very shallow at high magnification, so capturing sharp images hand-held is far from easy. Chris has done the right thing by increasing the ISO slightly in order to generate a workable shutter speed and aperture combination. The hawkweed creates a colourful backdrop and is nicely diffused.

" The hawkweed creates a colourful backdrop and is nicely diffused ”rosshoddinott

This style of shot, with subject filling the frame and taken from directly overhead, is ideal for illustrating the species and wouldn t look out of place in a reference book. However, from an aesthetic point of view, I think Chris could have been more imaginative. The composition is a little tight and the subject too central, creating a rather static-looking result. Maybe shooting from slightly further away would have been beneficial, allowing Chris to leave more space around the insect and place it off-centre. Alternatively, a different viewpoint could create a more natural, intimate shot - a side angle, perhaps.

The image - in particular the yellows -looks too bright and appears a little noisy and over-sharpened, so it may be worth reprocessing the original Raw file.

Verdict: A good capture of a tricky subject, but the result looks rather static and the processing could be improved.

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