Memory Lane: My First Macro Attempts
It's a Closeup of a Pencil Tip get my point? -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/16, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
It's a Closeup of a Pencil Tip
get my point?

I got a lot of fun camera toys on my Summer 2007 trip to my folks' place in Ohio (tripod, monopod, GPS unit, Katz Eye, high-resolution tablet), but the first thing I played with was a $5 item that allowed me to mount my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on the camera backwards, thereby yielding an unwieldy but powerful (yet cheap) macro setup.

I later wrote about the basics of reverse-lens macro photography, including the challenges, but when I first got the adapter ring that allowed me to give it a try myself, I didn't have much more than the raw enthusiasm of wanting to try it; I wasn't yet weighted down by the reality of how difficult it can be.

The enthusiasm and some basic instruction came from having seen Mark Dijstelberge's blog and postings on Digital Photography Review. His results are amazing.

The results of my first try were less so.

Mark mostly takes pictures of bugs. I don't like bugs – they give me the creeps – but Mark turns them into works of art. I wanted to try.

Tiny Bug With Translucent Shell sitting on a baseball cap -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/16, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Tiny Bug With Translucent Shell
sitting on a baseball cap

As I eventually wrote on the reverse-lens basics post, there are some major challenges: getting enough light on the subject to focus and make an image, controlling the lens aperture, placing the ultra-thin depth of field where you want it, and getting close enough (within an inch!) to the subject to allow a shot without them flying away or stinging you.

I rigged up something to get light from the on-camera flash around the edge of the lens to in front of it, using coat-hanger wire, tape, tin foil, and wax paper. It was comical. It was even more comical to see me try to use it, all the while using one finger on the front of the lens to control the aperture. “Awkward” doesn't even being to describe it.

I went and tried to photograph some bugs, and didn't have very good results. I found the pencil to be an easier subject.

Ball-Point Pen -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/30 sec, f/16, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Ball-Point Pen

After the summer, when I got back to Kyoto, I posted a few macro shots (a “What am I?” macro quiz, some pesky burrs, and Stupid Macro Tricks), but having run across these photos yesterday in my Lightroom library, I thought I'd share some from my first macro attempt, poor quality and all.

WARNING: BUGS BUGS BUGS BUGS          If you don't want to see bugs, stop here.

Tiny, Delicate Plants ( this is a buffer shot before the bugs ) -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Tiny, Delicate Plants
( this is a buffer shot before the bugs )
Dead Bug Through a Car Windshield For my first subject, it was easier if they didn't move so much -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Dead Bug
Through a Car Windshield
For my first subject, it was easier if they didn't move so much

Hey, I warned you there'd be bugs.

Bashful Fly -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Bashful Fly
Writhing Wasp escaping from a spider web -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Writhing Wasp
escaping from a spider web
Dunno. Colorful. -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Dunno. Colorful.
Dunno. Less Colorful. -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Dunno. Less Colorful.
Less-Bashful Fly -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Less-Bashful Fly
Lunch One of the waxworms that we feed the birds -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Lunch
One of the waxworms that we feed the birds
“Arrgh, My Eyes, It's So Bright !” -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + reversed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/16, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
“Arrgh, My Eyes, It's So Bright!”

More than a year later, I still don't have a real macro lens. The reverse-lens bit is too much trouble to go through very often, but especially that first time, it was fun trying.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Artistic or not, all in all I prefer the pencil photo to the bugs, too.

— comment by Marcina on September 24th, 2008 at 5:34am JST (9 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hey boy, you in a heap of trouble now. You posted all those bugs and you forgot to pay my royalties. You forget I have a monopoly on this stuff?

— comment by Bill Gates on September 24th, 2008 at 2:40pm JST (9 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

The insects are colorful.

— comment by britto on September 24th, 2008 at 10:54pm JST (9 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Are the bugs really that cooperative that they really stayed still as you shot them?

You see here only the shots where I got lucky. 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by Silencers on October 26th, 2009 at 6:49pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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