Come a little bit closer
” come a little bit closer”
Those first 5 words are part of the hook from a song by “JAY AND THE AMERICANS” . . . in this post I will speak briefly about my on again/off again obsession with Macro and Micro photography and some of the crazy roads one can go down in this quest to get “Just” . . . “a little bit closer” . . . . The world of Macro photography can become very alluring as you get to and go beyond the Magic 1:1 ratio, and much like the song Macro can become seductive and often the magical 1:1 can be quite elusive. You see, once you go down this rabbit hole you encounter the myriad of problems associated with this magical, beautiful realm . . .
Let’s look at some of the techniques for low cost Macro photography before we take the full plunge, I liken these techniques to gateway drugs because they wet ones appetite and hook one on the possibilities that are just out of reach . . .
Lets try the beginners route first . . it is simple and most eloquent . . . reversing the lens, this reversal adapter and it’s counter part the Male/Male filter ring used in another technique called lens stacking were one combines a medium zoom or telephoto lens with a normal or mild wide angle lens . . but lets just talk about this reverse lens method first.
As you can see it is inexpensive and very deceiving, flipping the lens puts you smack into the 1:1 range of macro, but you immediately face a few new challenges, (DOF) Depth of Field and light are the two major problems, Oh did I mention you need a lens that has an aperture ring (those new Nikkor G lenses wont work) and the other issue (a Major one) is you are in total MANUAL mode!!! As we get closer to our subject 3 things start to be very apparent . . (1) we need more light on out subject, (2) Our working distance to our subject has really shortened and (3) that sliver of in focus area is really hard to maintain so now we need to support the camera as any movement can cause blur, oh yeah so does shutter slap so now we need a way to trigger our camera without touching the shutter button. Problem (1) Light, well if we do not have a flash you will soon invest in one (doesn’t need to be a fancy one, a manual flash will do, don’t worry you’ll learn to use it or you’ll give up at this point) and you’ll learn about physics a bit as you learn how inverse laws work in relation to your light/subject distances. Problem (2) Working Distance your subject is really close, your really close, your light is really close . . . everything is really really close, so close you can block your light source or OPPS you sneeze and squish your subject with your lens . . . but, wait your just starting out so this is just part of the learning phase, you manage to pull off some pretty amazing shots and impress all your friends . . . right?
At this point you have gone one of two ways (a) you’ve given up or (b) you’ve been bitten by the beauty of a world that you have never seen before and now like “Don Quixote” you prepare to go fight dragons, in this case your quest for ever close begins.
You buy a dedicated macro lens
or you try extension rings and odd lens (reversal combinations)
Did I mention your wallet suffering some major hits!!! oh yeah and your girlfriend, or EX! they’ll understand your obsession . . . right?
But wait look at this wonderful shot of a butterflies wing sweety!! isn’t it cool!
“A little bit closer”
The quest continues, as you like some modern day alchemist hunt for the perfect macro rig . . . You will realize . . . there is no one size fits all macro rig.
Want to be really impressive? How about Medium format Macro . . Here are my Mamiya RB67 and Hasselblad 501c rigs in Macro setups (they are both using my H-20 PhaseOne Digital back.
Did I mention I use Medium format as well?
Hasselblad with auto bellows and 135 makro lens + a closeup Diopter aux lens . . . this is the only time I will use this but I couldn’t resist (uber macro rig), LOL . . .
I can say this about medium format macro, I’ll shoot 35mm or FX digital more then this, but I will use this setup more for fine art prints (that statement is moot now with the new high Megapixel digital cameras like the Nikon D800 or the D750).
Oh and then there is the real hardcore Macro setups
Still a work in progress
The above rig shows one of the extreme rigs I sometimes use to get beyond 1:1, it is not portable, it is very finicky (for those who are OCD you will love it), for those GEEK/Photographers . . . I can hear your shouts now (YES) and imagine your fist pumps!!!!
There are many different iterations of the above rig(s), all are capable, all are demanding and just for your information, they all work very well. Here is one last shot of what has become know affectionately as “the rail” . . .
Well there you have it, some of my weird camera, photography obsessions, I probably should be committed but hey! I traveled that road, explored every nook, cranny and rock. I loved the trip, the challenges.
So what did I learn? Well my fave rigs are much more mobile, I don’t need 1 to 1 or beyond . . . see it turns out I like a bit more subject and backgrounds. I like shooting the following pix. Most shot in ambient light with standard macro lenses or my Nikkor f/2.8, 70~200 zoom/500D diopter combo.
I love the fun of photography and the freedom of movement, my muse is serendipity, and for this I have to be ever ready, When she gives me the opportunity I cannot dawdle . . . else I miss the moment. The toys and the geeky parts with knobs and dials . . . all those trappings are just that! entrapment, clutter, distractions from my listening to my muse which calls me at a moments notice and affords me no quarter. My toys sit like trophies gathering dust, while I . . . . go out shooting, always at the ready when my muse calls me . . .
Have fun, don’t let the tech blind you to the call of your muse . . . “come a little bit closer . . . your my kinda . . . “
until next time, get off your duff and go make a picture! . . this is Tim . . . aka(Digi) signing off
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