Macro Progress

About a month or so ago, I started to explore macro photography. Technically, macro photography could be also known as close-up photography – but there is so much more than that. And if you remember from my Cornell Flowers post I was fairly unhappy with the results I was getting.

Inside a Trumpet Lily

Then Karma suggested extension tubes – which might also be called the poor man’s macro lens. After some research and some hemming and hawing, I ended up purchasing Zeikos Extension tubes which come in 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm. I don’t pretend to understand the physics of how these work, but basically these donut like tubes extend the lens away from the camera, moving the focus point, and allowing for some serious close ups.

Pink and White Rose

A rose that survived the deer!!

I have mainly been using my 55-200mm kit lens with the extension tubes. This allows me to focus while having a little space between the subject and the camera – perfect for gardens where I can’t set up the tripod in the middle of the plantings. I have used the 18-55mm a little – but you literally have to be set up within less than an inch from the subject to be able to focus!!!

Peach Daylilly

Peach Daylily

I’ve played around with the different sizes, combining and uncombining in all combinations. There is definitely a learning curve with this – trying to find the right combination to get what you have in your mind’s eye takes a lot of practice. Also, the exposures can be a little off – I have taken many an under/over exposed shot when working with the tubes!! But I’ve found that checking the histogram, or sometimes just the digital image, will show the (obvious) adjustments I need to make.

Yellow Asiatic Lily

One of my favorite lillies!

One drawback is that when the tubes are on, you can only focus on something that’s close-up – there’s no switching from close to far and back again that I’ve heard you can do with a macro lens. I’ll have to let you know about that for sure when I get my rental macro for my trip in August.

Inside the Trumpet Lily

I love being able to focus on the tiny pollen particles

All in all – this was a worthwhile investment. I’m able to take the shots I sometimes want to take, but since I’m not a full-time macro kind of gal, I didn’t have to make the huge investment necessary for the macro lens. And I can use these all summer on all my flowers (all the flowers in this post were taken in my own front yard) – not just when I have a rental in the house. Thanks Karma for the great suggestion!!

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4 thoughts on “Macro Progress

  1. If you shoot in RAW mode, you can do a lot of compensating for over- or under-exposure after the fact. You might also bracket your exposures, taking one picture above what the camera reads as proper and another below what the camera reads as proper.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

    P.S. I’m in Austin now but I lived in Union Springs for half a year in 1971. The only people I’ve kept in touch with from that time, from Cayuga, ended up independently moving to Texas too, though Lubbock.

    • Hello ex-Union Springs resident! Technically that’s my home town since that’s the post office my mail went through for the first 25 years of my life – through I did not go to Union Springs high school. I tend to shoot in .jpg because of file size, but in elements you can open .jpg files in RAW and manipulate them in the same way – with just a few restrictions (mainly with white balance). But I don’t like to sit at the computer when I’m not at work, so it’s just easier to get it right (or at least close :)) in the camera. It’s like the best of both worlds!

  2. Glad you are enjoying the extension tubes! They give you a lot of bang for your buck! I’m thinking of renting a lens for my August vacation – but I’m thinking of going the other way and trying a super telephoto (100-400). I’ll be interested to see what you think of a dedicated macro – maybe I will try renting one of those some time too. Have you decided which rental company to use? I’m trying to figure that out right now, who has the best price, etc.

    • Hi Karma-

      I’m using lensrentals.com. I checked out borrowlenses.com as well, but they ship FedEx which won’t work for me as you have to sign for your shipment and I would have to travel 45 minutes to get to the FedEx terminal. Lensrentals uses UPS and they’re pretty convenient. One trick I figured out is if you chose your rental days to be ending on Sunday – no shipping on Sundays – so you get an extra day for free!!

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