Fun in the country

So I spent most of Easter day in the countryside, hunting for bugs and exploring the advantages of using a tripod. I think my favorite and I guess also the best result of the day was this butterfly, incidentally the first butterfly ever I've managed to shoot. This was handheld, with the 70-200 at 200mm, 1/1000 f5:
Then there was this tiny, tiny and frankly adorable snail, I’m guessing a very young one rather than a small kind. Not that it matters. I pp this a bit to bring out the greenness. Shot with the 60mm on the tripod, 1/25, f13:

By this point I was experiencing first hand some of the basics how-tos and books usually cover about macro photography. First of all: bugs are twitchy. They don’t especially like to have their picture taken. This is where a longer macro lens (or longer lens anyway) would be a better choice. But the only other (sort of) macro lens I own is my old Tamron 70-300 that can double as a 180-300 macro lens. It’s not really true macro and can’t compete in any way, shape or alternate reality with the sharpness and the optical quality of the Canon 60mm. So for the time being, I’ll settle to upset bugs and lose some pictures in the process. A longer macro lens to hunt insects is quite far down of my shopping list at the moment. Speaking of bugs, I have no idea what this one is, but it’s not of the twitchy variety and calmly sat on this daisy (if it’s a daisy, I’m not too clear on that), allowing me to try out different settings. First, a relative small aperture (f11 1/125):
Next, the same picture but wide open (f2.8 1/2000):

I’m not sure which one I like best. Maybe the third one I didn’t shoot, with an aperture in between these two (f5 maybe?).

Moving on: for the first time in a long time I missed the vari-angle lcd of my beloved Powershot S1. Live view surely would have helped while the cam was on the tripod but I really, really hope Canon (and the other makers too, but I shoot Canon, so that’s what I care more about) will add a vari-angle screen to its future DSLRs as well.
Among the reasons to use a tripod for this kind of photography that I’ve found spot-on: the ability to use the lowest ISO setting without worrying too much about blurred pictures due to slow shutter speed. Well, unless it’s really dark and/or really windy. Manual focus can really make a difference: too bad I suck at it. I blame the small viewfinder of the 350D. And my less than 20/20 eyesight. And my glasses. Plenty of scapegoats, I like it!
Other random observations: using a tripod can be really slow work, though it’s possible the 3way head isn’t the best for macros. The iPod Touch can be really useful to take notes. And something must really be seriously wrong with the environment because there were much fewer bugs around than I thought there would be. Maybe it’s still too early in the spring. Or maybe it’s because this time I went actively looking for them instead of trying to avoid and running from them.