Friday, September 13, 2013

More Macro - Bug Free Edition.

So, you've seen my primary macro work over on my other post - Creepy, crawly, bitey little bugs. But there's so much more to macro work than just insects. Everywhere we turn in life, there's a world of almost microscopic proportions right at our fingertips, but who ever stops to take a closer look at it? That's right - I do.

Here are some more shots taken with the combination of EOS 60D and EOS 5D MkII bodies, plus the EF 180 f/3.5L and MP-E 65 f/2.8 macro lenses, and the EF 1.4x Extender. I also have more shots taken with my old macro lens, the Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX DG, which I have since sold, but I'll save them for another post. Again, flash was the 580 EX Speedlite, and a Horus Bennu ringflash. Note - Korean brand Horus Bennu's flash gear is a great cheap alternative if the Canon prices scare you off. They also do other accessories like tripods, adapter rings, and whatnot, for a lot less than the big name brands.

Right, to business...

Inanimate objects.

So much easier than living things, although not quite as much fun. The freedom of being able to take more time to set up the shots and get clean focus and adequate lighting is nice, but the process can feel quite clinical sometimes. However, the results let you see deeper into the world of ordinary household objects to an amazing degree.

A South Korean 10 Won coin. With a diameter of 18mm, and a value equivalent to around 1c in $NZ, this is the runt of the litter. The picture is of Dabotap stone tower. You can see the real tower inside Bulguksa Temple, in Gyeongju, South Korea. Shot with the MP-E 65 lens at a little over 2x magnification, we're starting to get nice and close. But hey, why not go closer...

The same coin, now at just over 3x magnification. Left to right is now about 12mm.

The same coin, now at just over 3x magnification. Left to right is now about 12mm.

The old size South Korean 10 Won coin. Larger than the new version in the first three photos, it has a diameter of 23mm. Reverse side has the same image as the newer, smaller ones. This was shot with the EF 180 f/3.5L. Aperture was set at around f/9, from minimum shooting distance (subject 48cm from sensor plane.) The hardest part of this shot was getting all 3 coins to stay balanced on their edges, with the same orientation. 

I love this one. A single black peppercorn, 4mm across, from my kitchen grinder, complete with dustings of previously ground peppers. Backgrounds for this level of macro shooting are dead simple - The clean white background here is just the back of an old business card. No need for fancy expensive stuff, aside from the camera and lens... Shot with the MP-E 65 at 5x magnification, and the EF 1.4x extender, this results in a 7x magnification level (5x 1.4). Aperture was at the minimum of f/16, no stacking. 

A grain of rock salt on a piece of black velveteen. Very hard to focus, actually. In hindsight I should have focused at the edges, not the main body, but no matter, it was just an evening's toying around.

A regular steel wool dish scrubber. 7x magnification.

A regular household sewing pin. Each of those black lines marks a 1mm increment on a tape measure. So if that's 1mm, then that squashed tip of the pin must be, I'd say about 1/100mm... The MP-E 65 is a truly amazing lens. The detail you can make out at full magnification is astounding. This shot was taken at 7x magnification, by the way. 

Animate objects - Back to nature.

As you may know, when it comes to photography, especially macro, I like things that are alive. I have little interest in shooting still life, product, or whatever. People, animals, plants, and the natural world are where I'm happiest. So, here's some more macro, but without the bugs.

EF 180 f/3.5L macro lens, but I can't remember which body this was on at the time. It was the day after it arrived, and I was very excited to test it out. These stamens, totally separated from the rest of the flower, demonstrate just how narrow the DOF is at wide aperture. 

More wide aperture and narrow DOF from the EF 180 macro lens.

The EF 180 really starting to show its abilities here. Those blooms are about 1cm from top to bottom, so that DOF is about 2-3mm, when shooting at minimum distance and maximum aperture.

A plant at my school, also on my second day of owning the EF 180 macro lens. 

Inside the flower after the school caretaker had just finished watering them. Also with the EF 180. From the tiny buds in the centre just breaking through the water, to the starburst on the far side, I love the tiny details. 

It's been done a thousand times before, but hey, I had a brand new lens, and no classes while the entire 5th and 6th grades were on a 3 day field trip, so I spent the afternoon doing stuff like this. Shot with the EF 180 macro lens, at minimum distance, therefore 1x magnification. Can't remember the aperture, but I'd guess it was somewhere between f/9 and f/16. The building you can see in the droplets is a refraction of the 3rd grade wing (the tall section) and the school cafeteria (the low section.) The white ring is the sun shining on one of the leaves of the plant. 

More like the above, same lens, same plant, only this time I rotated the plant a little to get a different view.

Same lens and same plant again. This time, I wanted the focus to be on the plant itself, rather than the refracted images in the droplets.

This is the mosquito netting in the windows of my old apartment in Changwon. I sprayed the netting with a regular misting bottle, then focused on the droplets, to get a refracted image of the driveway of the apartments across the street. Bear in mind that 6 squares from left to right amounts to 1cm, so the whole photo represents an area of about 1cm x 1.7cm. Which means that the image of any one of those cars parked in the driveway is actually pretty bloody tiny - About 1/5mm or so. 

Thorns from a rose bush. I snapped a piece off and brought it home with me from the park, lit it up with the 580 EX speedlite, and shot it with the MP-E 65. 

More of the same thorn from above, same setup.

An abandoned bee or wasp nest, shot with the MP-E 65, out in the park, no flash, just natural light.

So, there you have it - Even without bugs, macro is an amazing world. I'm endlessly fascinated by the act of zooming in on the tiny little details, or that of separating an object from its surroundings through the macro lens' extremely narrow depth of field and high magnification. It's not everyone's cup of tea (it can require a lot of patience, and the EF 180 and MP-E 65 are both expensive and long, heavy lenses) but if this kind of thing interests you, I can't say enough good things about both lenses. They really are amazing to work with.

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