Following my recent move to micro 4/3 (in the shape of the remarkable Panasonic GH4), I have been doing a great deal of experimenting…and learning. Here, I must record a debt of gratitude to Rob Sheppard whose work I admire greatly  and who, in typical pioneering spirit, moved to this format well before I made the jump. His writings on his experiences convinced me that this was for me, too…I had made a wrong move to a Sony NEX 7 and needed something with an SLR feel and more logically structured menus.

Although the Panasonic GH4 is much praised for its video abilities, it also happens to be a superb instrument for stills photography – particularly for the various aspects of macro photography that fascinate me. Considered below, and in two subsequent posts, are some of the aspects  that have impressed me as I negotiate the learning curve: a. Viewfinder focusing aids, b. Olympus 60 mm f/2 .8 macro lens and c. Samyang 7.5 mm f/3 .5 rectangular fisheye…

 A.  Viewfinder Focusing Aids

There are various “standout” aspects of the GH4, but for me the most remarkable has been the ease of focusing compared with any DSLR I have used to date. The camera’s focusing modes can be customised in all sorts of ways but the one thing I find particularly useful is that, in manual mode, the touch of a button creates a defined area in the centre of the screen which is magnified compared with the rest: this area can be adusted in size eventually filling the whole screen – I rather like seeing the small area compared to the whole view. As we age, our ability to discern fine detail (and also the contrast in details) decreases – anything that helps is welcome.

Rhaetian poppy (Papaver rhaeticum) a plant of screes and morraine on limestone in the Dolomites. Nr Refugio Lagazuoi 2762m - above Passo di Falzarego, nr Cortina, Dolomites. July 2016,

My idea of an ideal wide angle ‘macro’ subject: Rhaetian poppy (Papaver rhaeticum) a plant of screes and morraine on limestone in the Dolomites. Nr Refugio Lagazuoi 2762m – above Passo di Falzarego, nr Cortina, Dolomites. July 2016,

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Introduction.

As I trudged uphill, through the thick beech leaf carpet, carrying rucksack and tripod I felt, instinctively, that this year would not be one for those tiny treasures, the ghost orchids, that have over the years held a particular interest for me within the greater encompass of my  Orchidophilia.

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The most recent finds of the Ghost orchid – July 2016

The colouring of ghost orchids – various pale yellow and cream tones and reddish stem flecked with a darker red – creates a camouflage effect in their beechwood habit with its dappled lighting. The  knack is to spot the first when, as with orchids of all kinds, others seem to spring up…as you get your ‘eye in’, especially when shafts of light penetrating the canopy pick them out. I had, in fact. given up, resigned to trying another day when I took a slight diversion some 40m sideways to a gulley and found the first flowering plant just a few cm high….another 9 spikes followed, flowering some two weeks earlier than I have ever found them previously.

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Although I can spend countless hours watching and waiting for ‘the moment’ in nature with butterflies, bees, lizards and anything else that moves or grows, my patience with life in general is limited, especially with myself: I need change, challenges and my spirits sink with the humdrum. One of the many reasons I love natural history is that there are so many opportunities for those small things that bring joy and mean that life is never dull and they cost nothing.

 

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One of the first pictures I took with the new Panasonic GH4 fitted with the Laowa 15mm f/4 wide angle macro. This is the Piano Grande in Italy’s Sibillini National Park one of my favourite places and just right to try out new gear.

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