I got some new toys today in the form of a set of 3 extension tubes. I’ve wanted a set of tubes for a while but never took the plunge til now. I had a Kenko tube which I liked and the thought of stacking 3 more on top if it was too much to resist so I went ahead and ordered a set of 3. I decided to go with the Zeikos tubes rather than the Kenko ones b/c they were less than half the price. I know there’s not much that goes into these tubes which is why I just couldn’t justify the price tag on the Kenko ones (nearly $200, no thanks, way too much for something that doesn’t even have any glass in it). The Zeikos are all plastic, mounts and all, which is why they’re so cheap (and I imagine the Kenko ones have metal mounts like the 1 Kenko tube I have). I don’t mind the plastic mounts b/c I know it’s not something I’m going to be leaving on my camera and hanging from my side, I just put them on when I plan to use them and take them off when I’m done, so the plastic construction is plenty strong for that.
Anyways, I decided to keep it simple for the first shots with this set up, I mounted the 3 Zeikos tubes (a 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm) on my 25mm Kenko tube and then mounted my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens on that which got me really close in. I thought I’d just shoot some paper money and started with a one dollar bill, after a few shots I switched to a $20 (I’m a high roller) and really liked how the gold leaf “20” looked so that’s what we have here. One thing I quickly learned was that with all those tubes it causes some heavy vignetting in the corners, well more like cuts off the frame rather than vignettes, so I’ll have to keep tat in mind going forward and maybe just plan to crop (this was uncropped). All in all I’m happy so far with my extension tubes and plan on putting them to good use (next is a reversed lens mounted to all of the tubes).
Nikon D700, Tamron 90mm f/2.8 @ f/64 on a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG and 3 Zeikos extension tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm), 1/200th, iso 200.
1 sb-700 camera left in a Lumiguest LTP softbox at 1/2 power, triggered with CLS.
I wanted to attempt this for a little while but never realized just how tough it would be to photograph, an extreme close up, of your own arm while hand holding the camera in the other hand. Sure I could have put the camera on a tripod (it’s a D700 with a grip so it has a little weight to it, surely not the easiest to hold with one hand, esp. when you’re going for macro) and then tethered it to my laptop to compose and fire but what fun is that? I decided to make things difficult by holding the camera in my right hand and trying to aim, compose, and hold steady for a shot of the inside of my left elbow, also known as the “ditch” (which is one of the most painful parts of the arm to have tattooed next to the funny bone and wrist bones). These little triangle type shapes with a touch of green in them are actually scales to a dragon that wraps up and around my arm, the scales are less than 1/8″ across to give you an idea of the size and the magnification. Oh and I realized, after the fact, that I forgot to clean up the dust spots on the image so I apologize for that. I must say though, ever since cleaning my sensor with the Copper Hill cleaning kit, it has been significantly cleaner. Before the cleaning I would have to spend about 20+ minutes trying to clean all the dust spots but now days later I’m only finding maybe half a dozen small spots to clean, not bad at all (things I never noticed before since I don’t normally ever stop down past f/4).
Nikon D700, Nikkor 35mm f/2D reversed on a Nikkor 1.7TC on a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG, f/22 on the lens, 1/200th, iso 200.
1 Alien Bee B800 camera right with standard 7″ reflector at 1/4 power, triggered with RF-602’s.
A close up shot of a Frosted Mini Wheat (bite sized, since for some reason they don’t sell the normal Mini Wheats anymore which I liked much better). I’m not a big cereal person but when I must have cereal I do enjoy these (but they don’t come close to an egg sandwich or pancakes or french toast, etc etc… I love breakfast, and cereal doesn’t really satisfy me very much at all).
I set the mini wheat on a glass topped coffee table and used a 2 speedlight set up (see the bonus behind the scenes shot below). I had the main light in a Lumiquest LTP softbox which was pretty close, this made that light source ginormous compared to the subject which gave me some nice soft light. I then set a bare speedlight below the table at a very low power to throw a small amount of additional fill light on the bottom edge. I first tried the shoot with my reversed 35mm with tube and teleconverter but it was just too close, I liked getting more of the mini wheat in the shot so you could tell what it was so I decided to go with the Tamron 90mm macro lens along with the Kenko extension tube.
Photo Details: D700, Tamron 90mm f/2.8 with a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG @ f/64, 1/125th, iso 200.
1 sb-600 camera left in a Lumiquest LTP softbix at 1/2 power.
1 sb-700 beneath the glass table top angled up at 1/64th power.
Both triggered with RF-602’s.
5/366 – Vinyl is Not Dead. It’s not, it just has a new place in a music collection as more of a collectible than a source of music. This is a new limited edition colored ep we just got (we’re suckers for colored vinyl), it’s the H2O holiday ep of them covering a Mighty Mighty Bosstones song, limited to a run of 500 which was sold out pretty quick. I decided I’d aim my macro lens towards the grooves on the ep figuring the texture and color might make for an interesting shot. After playing around a lot with the composition, trying to capture the grooves on the vinyl as well as the change in color (since it is a 2 color vinyl), I finally captured an image I was happy with.
Nikon D700 with a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 lens on a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG @ f/64 (yes, f/64… that’s a long ways from f/2 where I like to be), 1/80th, iso 320.
Strobist: 1 sb-600 camera right at full power with a snoot (black “fun foam” from the craft store rubberbanded around the flash, I’m cheap), triggered with RF-602’s. I also had a large silver/gold reflector to the left that I was originally going to incorporate but after dialing in my settings it didn’t add much to the shot.
4/366 – African Violet. 4 days in and I’m already having trouble finding new macro subjects. I started off trying more shots of eyes, first I attempted to get a shot of my daughter’s eye as she sat on my lap (one did come out) and then I went and started to blind my cats by attempting to get a shot of their eyes. After some decent shots I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a second day of an eye macro so I started to look for other subjects, that’s when Terri mentioned some African Violets downstairs on the counter. I headed down and began to play, composing various shots of different flowers with different lens/flash combos. I wanted to do a 2 flash shot, 1 in the back behind the subject and a ringflash, it was a great idea but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted so after a few tweaks I ended up hand holding a bare sb-600 over the flower (later I realized, the reason it wasn’t working out was that I forgot to turn the backlight’s wireless receiver on… doh!). I ended up using my new favorite set up, a reversed 35mm f/2D on a Kenko extension tube mounted on a Nikon 1.7 teleconverter, this combo seems to get me the most magnification so I like it. I found myself drawn to the stamen of the violet and tried a number of compositions trying to get the sparkly petals to act as a nice backdrop/frame (this is uncropped btw), during this shot I also noticed a tiny visitor checking out the petals and was lucky enough to catch him down on the bottom of the frame.
Nikon D700, 35mm f/2D reversed on a kenko uniplustube 25dg on a Nikkor 1.7TC at f/22, 1/125th, iso 400.
1 sb-600 hand held above flower at 1/2 power, triggered with RF-602’s
1 sb-700 camera left ihn an LTP softbox not doing a single thing since I forgot to switch the receiver on… doh!
For my third day of macro shots I decided to shoot a pretty basic and popular subject for macro: a human eye. I decided to set my camera on a tripod in front of a chair and attempt to shoot my own eye (you’ll shoot your eye out), which made things a bit trickier. The thing I’ve found with macro, especially when using tubes and/or reversed lenses, is that focusing is nearly impossible. With tubes it isn’t too bad but with a reversed lens with a tube and a teleconverter it’s a pretty daunting task getting enough light through to see what you’re doing (I use the old trick I learned when using a 10 stop ND filter which is to focus/compose via the LCD screen on the back, you can crank up the brightness enough to sort of see what you’re doing). I did a few test shots on myself using my reversed 35mm f/2 on a extension tube on a teleconverter which were close (I figured if I aligned my eye with the tiny ball of light in the middle of the lens I’d at least be in the ballpark), before Terri volunteered to get in front of the lens. We had some issues with the positioning of her eye in regards to the camera on the tripod (it was too high and she had to keep reaching upwards, it wasn’t the most efficient method). After a few close calls I noticed my sensor was completely covered in filth from a quick attempt at cleaning it with a dry dust brush (I must have hit the side of the chamber and picked up a little bit of grease and smeared it on the sensor :-x). Well long story short, I ended up doing a full wet cleaning on the sensor which was severely overdue and everything is better than it was before. After the sensor was cleaned I did some test shots using just my Tamron 90mm macro on an extension tube and, due to the large depth of field/less magnification of the set up, I was able to get a couple good ones in just a few attempts. The one pictured here was one of the last shots. It was lit with a speedlight in a “DIY-Lighting-Kits” ringflash and the original image was cropped down about 1/3 of the total size (the first day of macro shots was uncropped and the strawberry was very slightly cropped).
D700 with a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 lens on a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG @ f/32, 1/125th, iso 500.
Strobist: 1 sb-600 in manual at full power in a DIY-Lighting-Kits ringflash hand held around the lens and triggered with a Nikon TTL cord.
Link to the ringflash which is well worth the money if, like me, you can’t afford an Orbis
Day 2 of “macro month” and today’s subject is a strawberry. I originally planned on going outside to find something interesting but after 5 minutes in the cold I decided to head indoors and see what I could find in there (we’ve been spoiled this winter, it has only dropped below freezing maybe once or twice and generally we’re right around 50 degrees but this day was near freezing brrrr). I thought a strawberry would make for a good subject with its nice red color and interesting seeds so that’s what I went for. After playing around for a bit with various compositions I found I was drawn to the texture and color of the leaf in contrast to the redness of the berry itself. It took me a number of shots to get what I wanted due to the technique I was attempting (I Macgyver’ed a macro set up this time with a 35mm f/2D lens reversed on a 1.7x tele converter which was sitting on an extension tube, it got me super close but was a pita to use).
D700, Nikkor 35mm f/2D reversed on a Nikkor 1.7tc which was on a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG. Shot at f/22, 1/250th, iso 500.
Strobist: 1 sb-700 camera left in a Lumiquest LTP softbox at full power, 1 sb-600 camera right with a homemade snoot at 1/20th, both triggered with CLS.
Time to start up a new photo a day project, aka 365 project, aka 366 project since this is a leap year. I’m starting off the year with a month of macro shots and this first one is a shot of the face of my watch. Nothing too special, I just thought it was fitting and Like my watch so there it is (it’s a Timex from J Crew, so I paid about 50x more than it’s worth for it but I really liked how it had that vintage look and weathered feel to it that you can’t get with a brand new Timex, also I really liked their selection of canvas bands which I just switched up from orange to red, thanks to my wife Terri).
Nikon D700 with a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens and a Kenko Uniplustube 25DG @ f/20, 1/200th, iso 500.
Strobist: 1 sb-700 camera left in a Lumiquest LTP softbox at 1/25th power, triggered with CLS.
Welcome to my blog dedicated to my photo a day project for 2012. I hope to shoot 366 consecutive photos, one each day, for the entire year of 2012 (which is a leap year). I’ve done a random photo a day project once which was unsuccessful, which was followed up by a much more successful photo a day dedicated to my daughter Zoey’s first year of life. That last project ended in March of 2011 and since then there has been something missing, so I thought why not start up another project 🙂
This year I wanted to have a theme but didn’t want to be limited to just one subject (not that there’s anything wrong with another 366 photos of Zoey), so I decided to do 12 separate themes, one for each month. I haven’t finalized all themes as of yet but do have a number of ideas in my head. I’m starting the year off with a January theme dedicated to “Macro”. I may ask for suggestions as the year goes on and perhaps even make polls so please stay tuned.
Thanks for joining me here and I hope you enjoy this year of photos as much as I will enjoy creating them.