Over the next few weeks, I've decided to share some photo tricks for capturing great holiday moments throughout the season. I'm not talking just The Big Day but all the little things that make this time of year so sweet and memorable. Some tips (like today's) will be more for the DSLR owner and run more advanced but I promise to share some easy peasy tips for the point & shoot owners as well.
Today I want to share my first attempt at true macro photography. I was inspired over the last few weeks by the ladies on the Bloom Forum to give "Poor Man's Macro" a try. I've seen that method mentioned here and there but never really dug into exactly what it entails until now. After playing with it over the weekend, I'm kicking myself for holding off for so long!
The true macro lenses I've had my eye on run between $450 – $700. Not exactly in my budget. But $6 sure is! There are two ways to manage this effect:
1. You can mount 2 lenses on your camera using a coupling ring. I mounted my 50mm lens onto my camera body as I would normally do. Then I screwed on the coupling ring on the front of the lens. Then I mounted my 85mm lens to the end of the 50 with both faces touching each other and the back of the 85mm lens facing out. You can see the ring I purchased here. Total cost: $6.95.
This system really gives you an intense amount of magnification if you're wanting to capture something truly tiny. When I flipped the lenses around so that the 85 was attached to the body and the 50 was on the end, it was even more intense. Look at these comparisons SOOC:
85mm 1.8 lens attached to the body of my camera with a 50mm 1.4 lens reverse mounted on the end:
50mm 1.8 lens mounted to my camera body with an 85mm 1.8 lens reverse mounted on the end:
That is the same ornament in both images. You can see just how seriously close the double lens method can get you to your subject. Unfortunately, in the second example, you see the harsh vignetting that is nearly impossible to avoid. In the pinecone image at the top, I just edited it out as best I could by cropping.
2. You can mount a single lens onto your camera body backwards using a reverse ring adapter. I haven't tried it yet but I'm hoping St. Nick will stuff my stocking with this one next week. From the examples I've seen, it appears you can get even more of your subject in the frame with the single lens. You also should be able to avoid the vignetting. I'm very excited to play with this method next.
If you know how to shoot in manual and have one of those rings, you can definitely play with macro. Here are my tips:
Look inside the cap: In order to figure out which size ring to get, look inside the cap of the lens you want to use. My 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8 were both a 58. BUT, my 50mm 1.8 was a 52. Be sure to double check.
High ISO, low aperture: Light is going to be the biggest issue. In order to get enough of it into these shady pictures, I had to shoot at ISO 3200. My aperture was set at f/5. Any lower and focus would have been a significant problem. This particular tip might change if you're attempting the single lens method.
Be sure to have enough light: I took a few of the light bulbs from the string of lights and tucked them around the pinecones to provide plenty of light.
Shoot Very Very Close!: The tip of my lens is almost touching the pinecones I'm shooting so close.
Forget autofocus: To focus the image, I moved my camera back and forth microscopic movements until the area I wanted in focus became clear.
Brace yourself or better yet use a tripod: I was able to brace myself against the wall and the tree branches helped cradle the camera to keep me steady for all my ornament/decoration images.
With these tips in hand and an adapter on your camera, just imagine all the holiday images you can capture! What would your tree trimmings, floral centerpieces, Dickens village houses, wreaths or even the snowflakes outside look like up close? Images like these give texture and fantastic detail to any holiday album or scrapbook and make fantastic screensavers for your computer! I know I am going to be looking at everything differently from here on in.