MACRO II – Getting Up Close and Personal

When I began this blog in May, I wasn’t exactly sure what would develop.  I hoped it would become a place where I could learn and grow as a “picture-taker.”  (Funny, I have a difficult time referring to myself as a photographer.)  Was I ever in for a surprise!  In yesterday’s post alone I learned at least two things.  First, there are several people who are seeking similar information and growth.  And second, there are many wonderful, talented photographers out there who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, you should click here to see it.  When you read it, make sure you browse the comments (they contain a wealth of practical information), and feel free to add to that post by including a comment of your own.  Yesterday, an entire photography community came together to participate in a forum-type discussion about macro photography.  I wish to offer my personal thanks to everyone who added a comment. Some of you are beginning novices, like me.  If that describes you, go ahead and leave a comment today.  Ask a question.  Post a short remark about the photos. Tell us what you’re thinking.  Even if you just say, “Hi,” to let everyone know you’re here – it’s your contribution and it has great value to the overall content of the discussion. Others may be well-experienced, even professional photographers.  Your comments only serve to further our ability to learn and grow in this amazing field. The experience and expertise you share in your comments contribute an element necessary to those of us without that knowledge.

In a similar fashion as the ladybug yesterday, I shot this bee using the same equipment: My Canon 50D and my 28-135 mm zoom lens.  I zoomed in as closely as the lens would allow, and finished the shot you see with a series of post-processing crops.

(5)

I created this flower abstract the same way.

(6)

These shots do provide a good close-up perspective.  But if you’re like me, sometimes you just want to get even closer and capture even greater detail.  But, is that possible without the investment required to purchase a macro lens?  Maybe…

In the strictest sense, true macro photography is achieved when the image projected onto the digital sensor is the same size as the subject – a reproduction ration of 1:1. As with my Canon 28-135 mm zoom lens, sometimes manufacturers describe a lens’ close-focusing capabilities as “macro” even if it doesn’t meet that strict definition. Over time, the term “macro” has gradually come to define the ability to focus on a subject close enough so the image is life-size or larger when viewing a 4″x6″ print.

However we choose to define “Macro Photography” I think we can all agree, it requires the ability to get up close and personal with the subject.  With that in mind, let’s share some information that will help us achieve just that.

If you’re like me and a macro lens is somewhere in your future but you still love to shoot extreme close up shots, perhaps one of the following methods will provide the help you need to accomplish that.

Some manufacturers offer what are typically called close-up “filters” which aren’t really filters at all.  But since they look like filters and attach to your lens in the same fashion as a filter, they came to be known as filters.  They’re actually supplementary lenses that use high-quality optics to shorten your camera lens’ close-focusing distance, allowing you to get closer to the subject without losing the ability to focus. These close-up filters are available in different strengths (or diopter) usually referred to as +1, +2, or +4. For those wanting to shoot macro on a budget, a complete set of three close-up filters should cost around $40.00 – $50.00.

If these filters don’t get you close enough to satisfy that macro itch, you may want to consider adding an extension tube to your existing lens.  Extension tubes provide additional separation between your lens and imaging chip that’s required for close-up photography.  A set of inexpensive extension tubes will only set you back about $85.00 – $100.00.

Now, I’ve never experimented with either of these methods.  But, I wonder if some of you have.  And if so, would you care to share your experience – good or bad.  This is the place to do just that.  Or, are you like me and have even more questions about close-up photography?  Then, this is the place to share those questions.

Let’s open this up for discussion and see where it leads.  Write your comments and questions, share your experiences, and I’ll get them posted so we can unmask this mystery of Macro Photography.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

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~ by photographyfree4all on August 28, 2010.

30 Responses to “MACRO II – Getting Up Close and Personal”

  1. Now that’s what I’m taalkin’ about. Two very nice photos. Congratulations! The only thing I might have done differently would be to have shot the 1st one at -1/3 EV exposure comp. That would have reduced that glare on that bright yellow and thw white (cloth?) That glare probably washed some nice detail. But otherwise, well done. 🙂

    As for those close-up filters, I never thought much of them. With those you definitely need a tripod because you are working with such a tiny depth of field, that focusing is very critical.

    Ditto on extension tubes. The focusing is too, too critical to try hand-holding.

    Bob

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  2. This is very intriguing. I’m hoping some of the comments will be from others who’ve tried the tubes or filters–it’s still a lot of money to invest without knowing what kind of results you’re going to get, or whether it makes much of a difference. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you post some of yours, if you pick some up. 🙂

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  3. That is a minus -1/3 EV. And further down I meant that the glare probably washed OUT some detail. I knew I shouldn’t have had that little drinkee with my dinner. 🙂

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  4. Great bee shot! I’ve just started in with the macro stuff this summer and have been using my same old 18-200mm lens @200mm with extension tubes (the tubes cost me around $170 I think). I usually use all three tubes stacked unless the object is too big (like a swallowtail). I normally shoot insects in aperture priority mode which allows me to focus my attention on focusing (which is done manually and is the bane of my existence). If I notice on the LCD that the shots are being overexposed (which seems to happen a lot with bees in the bright sunlight on bright colored flowers) I’ll set the exposure adjustment to -0.3 or -0.7. The other thing that has helped me a lot was switching from trying to hand hold the camera to using a tripod with the head loose. Often I’m even tilting the tripod to move it around quickly and only using two legs. Even on two legs with the loose head it’s a lot more stable than with me hand holding it.

    Keep up your posts. I love reading your stuff.

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  5. Thanks for this information, Bob. I was hoping you would comment on this post. I guessed you would have some experience with the tubes or filters. Thanks for the exposure tip on the bee shot. Actually, the white is the flower pedals. It’s an interesting bloom found on a tree. I do know that focus becomes even more critical as you get closer. So, if the filters make it more difficult to focus, that could be an issue. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Heather. I think there will be several comments on this post. You may want to check back to see if there is additional information. I know here in Southern California, there is a camera shop I frequent often. I pick up a lot of information from the photographers that work and shop there. They have the close-up filters and have offered to let me bring in my camera, attach the filters, and take some shots to see what I think before I make the purchase. I probably will do that soon and post what I think about the focusing issue. You may be able to find a shop that will allow you to do that before you make a decision. It’s no fun to spend the money only to discover they don’t work very well. Thanks for your comment!

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  7. Bill, thank you for contributing to this post with your informative comment. This is what I was hoping would happen. You currently use the extension tubes and seem to be happy with the results. You seem to deal with any focusing issues by using a tripod when necessary. Do you feel it just takes some time to learn to use the extensions (as far as focusing)? Did it take you some time to get the focusing down? I’m glad you jumped in because I was hoping to hear from people who had at least tried them or are currently using them. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you;ll come back, soon!

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  8. Hello! I’m very much in the same boat with you. I started my blog this past April, and bought my first DSLR this past July. I’ve been a photography enthusiastic for a long time, and have spent a few years now reading blogs and getting great ideas from others. Even before I got my DSLR, I had a macro conversion lens (Raynox M-250) This very inexpensive “lens” comes with an adapter so that you can attach it to any camera from 52 to 58mm. Here are some examples of what I’ve done with that lens if you are interested:http://www.flickr.com/photos/karmardav/sets/72157624815374704/

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  9. Great comment, karma! Thanks! I’m not familiar with this lens, but you seem to do well with it. I’m glad you brought this information into the discussion. Some, like me, are wondering what might be a good option without the investment of a macro lens. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll come back again, soon,

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  10. I’m reading with interest and soaking it up. 🙂

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  11. Just love the shot of the bee honing in on its supper! You clearly are loving doing macro shots (my favorite thing to do in photography, too); keep it up! I’m surprised more photographers don’t do them—even though there is a bit more finesse required in regards to depth-of-field, focusing, etc. Keep up the good work.

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  12. That is one of my favorite shots, Cindy. Thanks for all your comments. I really appreciate your contribution to these posts! I’m finding focus is the key when it comes to close-ups! That’s why I’m a bit nervous about the close-up filters. If detail is what makes a great macro shot – then focus must be perfect! Can you get that with the filters? I’m not sure, but I think I want to find out. Stop back often Cindy. We’ll continue to discuss and report to our findings in upcoming posts.

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  13. This is great Missusk! That’s exactly what I hope others are doing. As I’ve said in other comment replies, I’m going to be experimenting with different options and reporting my findings in future posts. Stop back often for those updates. That’s so much for your comment!

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  14. Love these two, very nicely done. When I used the Canon S5 I had used a tube and a Raynox M150 Macro lens (not very expensive at all), I don’t have many images from that on my site, most images there are from when I began using an SLR, I recently processed an old one that is there if you’d like a look.
    http://www.TheMichaelLamCollection.com/p286711228/e79cd946
    I also have a M250 for closer detail work.

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  15. Extension tubes are great! Here is a shot I took of daylily stamens to give you an idea:

    http://milkayphoto.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/me-so-on-fire/

    Focus and staying steady is KEY in macro photography as any movement is magnified. I recommend using a tripod with a remote shutter release cable.

    The bee in flight is great! The hightlight on the eye gives it life and the slight blur on the wings indicates motion, which in this case, is a good thing as it might actually look silly if the bee were perfectly ‘frozen’.

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  16. Thanks for posting this information, Michael. Your shots are amazing – the Caiman Eye, that’s a great shot! I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  17. Thanks for giving us this example. It’s a great shot. The detail of the focal point is remarkable. Your comments along with others who are offering information is really giving us all some less expensive options. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  18. I’ve used macro filters in the past but not extenders, and while they will both get the job done (to some extent) I think in the end it’s worth it to invest in getting an actual macro lens. forget the difference in image quality (which is substantial), a macro lens will autofocus properly and much quicker, will get a wider aperture compared to a filter on a kit lens, and will also function excellently as a sharp portrait lens. macro lenses are just like a high quality prime lens … except better!

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  19. What a coincidence. I was just responding to Pearlsandprose about the same thing. I was told that a 60mm macro could double as a great portrait lens on my Canon 50D! Thanks for this information and adding to the commentary about macro lenses, firthefirst! I’m glad you stopped by.

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  20. Love the pics. And I think you are doing a decent job of getting up close and personal with the zoom you are using. Also, I read the comments from yesterdays post and theres a lot of good information there. It is really great to read the comments and discover the methods others are using. Thanks and see you again.

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  21. Pearlsandprose is correct. You need the film equivalent of around 80mm, give or take, for portraits. If you use your prime 50mm for portraits, you will get distortion and big noses. 🙂

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  22. Thanks for adding your comment to the mix, Linda. I am having a lot of fun. I don’t really get the detail I’m looking for, but at the same time – it’s not bad for the equipment I’m using. Eventually, the drive for detail will lead to a new macro lens. I hope you stop by again, soon.

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  23. That’s, Bob! I was told that with my 50D Canon, a 60mm lens would actually translate to a little more than 90mm. I’m not sure I understood everything he was telling me, but he was saying that every lens I use with the 50D is magnified by about 1.6x. That means a 100mm lens actually shoots around 160mm. Is that right? Thanks for adding your expertise, Bob. I always appreciate it.

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  24. That’s right about the conversion with a 100mm on your 50D. Let’s see I think your 50mm prime lens would be about 70mm Not too bad for portraits, but probably would be better to get up around 80-90 at least.

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  25. I think I’m likin’ picture #6 the best so far this week… (but I like the bee too)… Question: With your photo voting, I can’t remember, how are we supposed to cast our vote? On a certain day of the week? How do you determine people’s favorite, by the number of comments per post? I like your idea of letting people vote for their favorites!

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  26. Thanks for your comment, Barb. And, thanks for your vote! Right now, you can vote by your comment and you can vote/comment as often as you like. So, if you offer a comment tomorrow, at the end be sure to mention your favorite and it will count as another vote. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  27. I adore your Abstract Iris. Well done! I also like the pleasant way that you invite comments. I have just subscribed to your blog, and look forward to joining the conversation. I would categorize myself – like you – as both a novice and a professional. http://ensomonkey.wordpress.com

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  28. Absolutely fantastic to have you participate, Sandra. There is a wealth of information in the comments of the last two posts. Thank you for your kind words about the Iris! I actually have a framed print of that one hanging in my office. If you read throught he posts or comments and have a question, send it to me in a comment and I’m sure someone will have an answer for you very quickly. Thanks for stopping by.

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  29. […] YOU A PHOTOGRAPHER? AM I? In a recent post, I was having difficulty referring to myself as a photographer.  In fact, I couldn’t do it […]

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  30. Nice! I particularly like the bee photo, it’s amazing! Clever freezing it at just the right millisecond, and getting the composition absolutely right at the same time!

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