Friday, March 23, 2012

Long time, no see... (again)

It's been a while since my last post - quite a long while!  Apologies all.
So what's been happening in my world..? Well, photographically speaking, I got a set of extension tubes at Christmas, and so for the last couple of months, I've been playing a bit with macro shots.  Here're a few of my more successful shots...

This dragonfly was buzzing around the pond in our garden, but to get this shot, I was standing with one foot each side of the pond, which was a little wider than comfortable :-o
I got a few more 'classic' shots, but quite liked the angle of this one looking up from below the leaf it was settled on.

I went down to the beach one lunchtime, in search of macro subjects for a change, instead of the usual surfers and seabirds (I've also found there is a pair of Kestrels that have adopted the area too - more on that in another post).  After 40 minutes of finding nothing except crabs that hid in the rocks as soon as I approached, I had given up and was heading back to the car, when I found this little fella who was brave enough to let me get within a couple of feet and take some shots.

The main thing I have found about macro work, is that doing it handheld with moving subjects is ******ng difficult!!  The working focus range is severely restricted and depth of field similarly constrained.  If you have a static subject, and a tripod, it's not so bad because you can fiddle and adjust to your heart's content - but nature doesn't respect a photographer's need for setup time, and creatures also get very edgy when you try and too close to them - so I ended up with lot's of empty shots and out of focus ones too.

Here's one I tried as an experiment, of a static subject one evening.  Those little turquoise thingies are only about 2mm long.

I haven't really figured out exactly what combinations of the three rings and my two zoom lenses at various focal lengths does, yet.  But what I have found is that the zoom from 18-55mm makes surprisingly little difference on the 'zoom' and acts more like a focus field shift instead.

The tubes I have are Kenko, and are specifically for the Nikon (they do them for Canon and probably other makes as well). I like the fact that they have all the electrical connections that allow auto-focus, and all other functionality of the lens to be used.  A set of tubes can be picked up a lot cheaper than a macro lens, and can be used with all your existing lenses to provide a lot of combinations to experiment with.  If you are thinking about having a 'play' in the macro world, these would make a very good starter for a reasonably small investment.  The good thing about them is that they have no glass elements, so there is no loss of quality - just an additional stop or two of light loss due to the increased distance between lens and sensor.  All the photos I've tried so far were with the middle of the three tubes, which are 12, 20 and 36mm respectively.

So to summarize the technical considerations of macro photography with extension tubes...
 - the focal range is severely shortened
 - the depth of focus is also extremely shallow
 - for any given aperture on the lens, the increased distance to the sensor will lose you a stop or two
 - the minimum focus distance of the lens is brought far closer to the front element of the lens
 - (in fact with some combinations, the minimum focus is actually within the lens! I have one picture of
     specks of dust actually on the lens, perfectly in focus...)
 - the close minimum focus means that the subject is sometimes in the shadow of the lens - you need
     to be careful about lighting conditions, and it is why pros use a ring flash for macro work

 - all these elements combine to make hand-held photography a 'challenge' unless you have great light

That said - it's certainly a challenge I am enjoying, and when you get a single great result, it makes it all worth while.

Until the next time (I promise it won't be 6 months this time)
Happy Snappin'

1 comment:

  1. Oni devas esti pacienca por fari ŝatatan foton. La fotoj aspektas bele.
    Egan gratulon.
    amike Piotr