Monthly Archives: April 2010

April 23, 2010 – Dandelion


Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh, sure, today’s post is all significant because it’s the last one this week and everything. But just wait till Monday’s post. That’ll be big doin’s. Awwwww man, Monday’s a big deal. And yes, I’m being intentionally vague. Right, anyway…

In the last couple weeks, I looked outside and noticed that things had started blooming. Springtime once again. So, I decided to pick up where I had left off last summer with my macro toys. To give a quick refresher, I started out with a standard telephoto “macro” lens (quotation marks because it’s only 1:2 magnification, not even 1:1 like a “true” macro lens). Then I started doing stuff like buying little “macro kits” (little magnifying lenses that you attach to the front of your regular lens), and I ended up buying a reverse-mount adaptor near the end of the summer. I’ve talked about it many times before, but it’s a little metal ring that you screw on to the front of your lens like a filter, and it allows you to connect your lens backwards to the camera body. This gets you ridiculous macro, all for the exorbitant price of 12 dollars. (Although you lose nice things like autofocus and aperture control, since the electrical bits of your lens are no longer attached. – you can mitigate that a little bit by not using your fast glass – I’ve been using my kit lens – but it takes what is already a frightfully small depth of field and shrinks it further.)

Oh, before I move on, I should explain something. Magnification ratio. That’s a fairly important concept when it comes to macro. The magnification ratio is the ratio between how big something is in real life vs how big the projection of it is against your camera sensor (or <retch> film). So, an object that is 35mm across, when using a 1:1 magnification lens, will be projected life-size on your sensor, and if you’re using a 35mm camera or a full-frame sensor digital, it will take up the whole frame. (And then, when you print the picture or view it on your computer, it’ll be effing HUGE.) With most digital cameras (mine included), the sensor is actually smaller than the full 35mm, so in the case of the 35mm object, at 1:1 magnification it would be *larger* than the frame. So, a 1:2 magnification ratio means that the projection on your sensor will be half-life-size. Most standard telephoto zoom lenses have a 1:2 or 1:4 magnification ratio, for your reference. True “macro” lenses usually achive 1:1, and Canon makes this one crazy 65mm macro-specific lens that STARTS at 1:1, and goes all the way up to 5:1. 5 to 1. Think about that. The thing you’re taking a picture of will be FIVE TIMES BIGGER than life size on your itty-bitty sensor. That means that a fly’s eyeball will take up your entire sensor. Now imagine that you’re looking at a picture of a fly’s eyeball blown up to poster-size. Yeah, crazy, right?? That’s where I want to get someday. But that lens costs 1000 bucks, so someday is not today.

ANYWAY… all that talk about magnification ratio, and I actually have no clue what kind of ratio I have on this picture. I’m going to guess somewhere between 1:2 and 1:1. But using the reverse mount, I’m pretty sure I can fairly easily get past that magic 1:1 mark. When you’re using the reverse mount, the usual rule of “larger focal length means more zoomed in” is no longer true. If you’re using an 18-55 lens (like I was), the 18 end is the super close in end (which is actually too close in to really be usable) and the 55 end is more of a normal ridiculous macro. This shot was right out at the 55 and, and you can tell it’s still pretty neat. You’re looking at a dandelion, if that wasn’t obvious.

Why all this talk about macro stuff? Because I bought more macro stuff. Some of it should be getting here today! The rest, hopefully tomorrow, maybe Monday. What’d I get? Well, two things..

First, I got a set of macro extension tubes. Amazon link. You use them by attaching them between your lens and your camera. This moves the optical elements of your lens further away from the sensor, which essentially zooms you in. (Although it also makes it so you can focus closer in, at the expense of being able to focus to infinity.) Basically, it gets you wicked close. How close? Not sure. I’ll let you know after I play around with it. Although, I do know that it has a much more dramatic effect on shorter lenses. As in, if you attach your super-long telephoto lens with them, it won’t change that dramatically, but if you hook up your little tiny 50mm prime, you’ll rock your world so hard they’ll feel it in Australia. Or so I’ve heard. We’ll see. There’s no optics in the rings, they’re just hollow rings. But they DO pass through the electrical connections, so you can USE YOUR APERTURE! WOOOOO! We’ll see how this goes.

The other thing I got is a macro ring flash. Amazon link. This is basically a ring flash that you mount on the front of your lens. It, you know, shines light on stuff. In this case, stuff that’s right in front of your lens. One of the side effects of taking pictures of little tiny things is that you’re dealing with dramatically smaller quantities of light than, say, typical landscape photography. So you have to deal with things like high ISO and low shutter speed. Hopefully, this flash will help out. I started out with a cheapie-cheap one, so I can play around with it and see how well it works. the “real” ones cost much more, like 500 or 800 dollars. So I’m not there yet. Someday, someday. Not today.

So, hopefully next week (maybe even Monday?? Nah, already got a picture picked out for Monday) you’ll get to see some initial results! I can’t wait! Have a great weekend!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55mm kit lens. 1/500s, ISO 800. Aperture unknown. Focal length was somewhere around 55mm, but reverse-mounted.

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April 22, 2010 – Iguana


Iguana, Woodland Park Zoo

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another day when I don’t have time to do a “real” post, so instead I’m just tossing up a picture so you know I didn’t forget about you. It’s an iguana! From the zoo across the street! From the much-maligned Tamron 28-300 VC lens! This is a (rare) case where I’m not sure I could have gotten this shot without it, since this was a 1/40s handheld exposure. The image stabilization actually worked out for me this time, sweet.

I was HOPING I’d have a chance today to talk about the two newest toys I ordered for my camera earlier this week, but no. They’re both for macro stuff, so hopefully not only will you get a chance to read about them someday, you’ll also get to see the results of them somewhat soon. We’ll see. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to talk about them? At least one of them should be getting here tomorrow, so that’ll be cool. Okay, that’s all the time I’ve got for today..

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/40s, f/6.3, ISO 200. Focal length: 300mm.

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April 21, 2010 – Pretty Blue Flowers

Pretty blue flowers

Pretty blue flowers

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No time to write up a post today, but here’s some pretty blue flowers to look at!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/125s, f/9.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 260mm.

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April 20, 2010 – Cocktails?


Cocktails, Pike Place Market

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anyone?? Yeah, it’s been that kind of day.

This was taken inside Pike Place Market, in lovely Seattle. For a little while, we had a “club” here at work that would take a little field trip every couple weeks, to go take pictures. We’d usually just pick a direction and walk around the office, taking shots of whatever looked interesting. This was a result of one of those trips. Now, I’ve got to admit, I struggled quite a bit with it. I’m not used to taking pictures of “city stuff”, so it took awhile to find things that inspired me. And I never really got many shots that I really considered keepers (certainly nothing as cool as the other folks got). This is the first one I’ve ever posted from those little adventures, and it may be awhile before you see another one. (And this one I’m just posting because it’s, umm, topical.)

All that being said though, it’s a cool thing to make yourself do. Go out into a situation where you normally wouldn’t expect to find anything interesting to take pictures of, and force yourself to look at it in a way that you wouldn’t normally. You never know, it could push your boundaries a little bit, maybe spur some creativity next time you’re out in what you consider your usual element. And, hey, maybe you’ll even get something cool out of it! Or, maybe it’ll just be an excuse to go get some fresh air or check out a spot you’ve never seen before. All good things. So, cocktails?

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/160s, f/3.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 28mm.

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April 19, 2010 – Upper Silver Lake

Upper Silver Lake

Upper Silver Lake, Buckhorn Wilderness

Monday, April 19, 2010

So, reflections are kind of fun. If you’ve got a piece of still water handy nearby, you can usually make just about any picture a little bit more interesting by reflecting something in it. Now, it doesn’t always make things more interesting an interesting way, if that makes any sense, but it never hurts to try. Long-time readers of the Picture of the Day may realize that I’ve posted shots in the past of just about this same spot, where I feel like I made better use of the reflection. But this one is still kind of nice I think.

This was taken at Upper Silver Lake, in the Buckhorn Wilderness. That’s on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State if you don’t have a map handy. There’s a national park on the peninsula, Olympic National Park, that encompasses a lot of the mountains and a decent-sized chunk of the coastline, but this wasn’t inside the boundary. There’s a couple ways in to the lake, one of which follows the Mt. Townsend trail almost all the way up. That’s the way we got there. The other trail is I think a little bit easier (in that there’s less up, then down, then up), but I wasn’t in charge of picking the trail, so what do I know. This was taken a little while after sunrise, when the surrounding peaks were nicely lit up, but the sun hadn’t made its way down to the lake yet.

Anybody have any requests for the rest of the week?

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55mm kit lens. 1/125s, f/4.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 28mm.

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