Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I know, I know, a lot of you think pictures like this one are kind of disgusting. And let’s be honest, they kind of are. But they’re still really cool. And, you have to admit, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted one.
This was taken with the 18-55 mm kit lens that came with my Canon, reverse-mounted using one of these guys: http://bit.ly/hCi4n . It’s truly ridiculous how close-in you can get that way, and all you need is a cheesy little 13 dollar attachment. Unfortunately, since you’re attaching the lens to your camera backwards, you obviously don’t get the benefit of any of the electronic controls, which means the focus is totally manual (although focusing at that distance consists of simply rocking back and forth on the balls of your feet) and your aperture will be wide open. However, I don’t think shrinking the aperture would help you at all anyway, since there’s such a pitifully small amount of light reaching your sensor anyway.
As you can tell, the depth of field when taking pictures like this is quite literally microscopic. In normal landscape photography, you can take a photo with everything from 15 feet in front of you out to infinity all in focus. Here? The only thing in focus is a very narrow band between the fly’s back and the front of his head. We’re talking maybe a millimeter here. It’s weird. Another odd thing about doing this kind of stuff is how close you have to get to your subject. This fly was literally less than an inch from the front (well, the back) of my lens. As you can imagine, this introduces a whole host of new issues. Such as: flies tend to be a bit skittish. So it can be hard to get close enough to even get a picture. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at standing perfectly still. I tend to rock back and forth a bit. When I’m taking a picture of a mountain, an inch or two in either direction doesn’t really make a difference. But when your depth of field is a millimeter, it’s a bit different. And, even on top of that, it’s worth pointing out that flies are FAST. They move a LOT. So while normally the biggest concern is using a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake, with these shots you need to get much, much faster than that, so that you don’t get motion blur. (1/400th of a second is a great place to start.) So to say getting this picture was a bit frustrating a bit of an understatement. Let’s just say, it’s a good think I was shooting digital, because I had a couple hundred frames of complete garbage. (Not an exaggeration.)
One thing I like about these shots, and this one in particular, is that they’re very illustrative of what happens when you move away from the focal point. The eye is fantastic, because you can see what it looks like in focus, and you can very clearly see how it degrades from that into the general out of focus mushy stuff. Fun times, all around.
Before I let you go today, I’d like to point something out real quick. If you see that bit.ly link above ( http://bit.ly/hCi4n ), that’s a link to Amazon, to the actual reverse-mount attachment I use. If you use that link to go to Amazon, then buy ANYTHING on the site, it’s linked up to my referral account, so I get 4% of your purchase paid to me. So I would urge you, if you’re going to do any Amazon shopping this holiday season, to please go to Amazon via that link, help me out a bit. If you buy enough stuff, I’ll send you a free calendar!! What could be better than that?! Oh, a lot of stuff, you’re right. But it’s still pretty awesome!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/400s, ISO 800.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Okay, I’ll admit, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Ever since I posted that bee and flower a few weeks ago, I’ve sort of gone off the deep end with this macro obsession. (Well, to be fair, it was always there, it’s just been latent until recently, when I realized I could satisfy my unhealthy urges without shelling out too much cash.)
This little device is just a metal ring that attaches to the front of your lens like a filter. Then, you pop off your lens, and literally just attach it to the camera backwards. As in, what was once the butt-end of the lens, the private parts that were once only visible to the camera’s sensor, is now exposed for the whole world to see. And the magnification that gets you is, for lack of a better word, ludicrous. I’ve just been using the simple, basic, cheap 18-55 mm kit lens that came with the camera. And at the 18mm end, it’s too close in to even work with. Fantastic! (Since it’s on there backwards, everything is reversed, so whereas normally lower numbers mean more wide-angle, here it means you’re closer in.) This photo was much closer to the 55 end of the lens, and it’s still pretty close in, as you can see. The drawback is of course that your depth of field is, quite literally, microscopic. You can see for yourself how narrow that band of in-focus-ness is on the leaf. That’s probably where the difference between a 13 dollar attachment on a free lens and a $1400 macro-specific beast lies. Or maybe not. Until I drop that 1400 bucks (probably next week at this rate), I won’t know for sure. It’s really tough to use, for a couple reasons. First of all, I tend to sway back and forth when I’m taking a picture. If I’m shooting a mountain, not a problem. But if you only have a millimeter or two of focus to play with, an inch or two in either direction obviously kills the shot. Second, if you’re looking a flower or something, the slightest gasp of wind sends your subject on a wild roller coaster ride in and out of the frame. Patience is an absolute necessity, it can get pretty frustrating. A tripod definitely helps, or at the very least something to steady the camera against. (Like a gorilla pod! – that’s what I used for these shots.)
Now, I’ve just got to figure out the whole lighting situation. This shot was taken with natural light, because it was bright and sunny. Any other conditions (the day before I was trying to work with late-afternoon light with only limited success) and you’ve got to jack the ISO up to 1600 minimum to even START getting results. I’ll let you all know what I figure out when I figure that one out. Maybe tomorrow I’ll post another super-ridiculous-macro shot, sans insect. We’ll see how I feel.)
Enjoy your Monday!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/200s, ISO 200.