August 31, 2018 at 10:37 pm #33245
I became interested in macro photography almost as soon as I bought my camera, but I could not justify buying a dedicated macro lens. Recently, however, I came up with a way to get decent macro results for a very minimal investment in gear. Here’s my setup: I use a 18-55 kit lens with a reversing ring to mount it backwards on my camera. I found that at 18mm, it has extreme magnification, while 55mm is quite a bit less. To set the aperture, you first mount the lens right-side in and adjust the aperture in manual mode. Then holding the aperture preview button, remove the lens and mount it backwards. Even at f/22, this setup has a very narrow field of view, and your viewfinder will probably be dark. I soon gave up trying to shoot things on the move with this. Just this week, I found a way to employ this lens setup more successfully. Enter focus stacking! I made a device that allows me to move the camera in tiny increments, and take a stack of photos of all possible focus areas, and use focus stacking to blend them into one image. It also stabilizes the camera and subject, eliminating movement between frames. I recommend a remote shutter trigger, or at least a timer to further reduce vibration. These pictures take from 50-120 frames to make one final image. Any ideas of how I can improve these pictures? Any questions on my setup are welcome!September 1, 2018 at 10:11 am #33256
Wow! That’s an awesome idea! In the first photo of the spider the leg is out of focus in front of the spiders eyes, so I’m not a fan of that photo. I really like the second photo, but I would crop out the area around the edge of the photo that’s kind of foggy, and on the third photo, I would clean off the glass to get rid of the dust, as it’s a bit distracting.
Awesome job! I’ll have to look into using a setup like that!September 1, 2018 at 6:59 pm #33259
Thanks, @rmandaris, I just realized that I uploaded the unedited pictures. I guess they serve to show the magnification, DOF, and sharpness you can get from a inexpensive setup!September 7, 2018 at 4:40 pm #33369
That is crazy! Thanks for sharing and posting that amazing photo of your set up! All custom built, I assume? Comes in handy to have some wood-working skills! The mirror is a great idea for a background. You could reflect just about anything in it and get any background you wanted. Does it really require 50-120 pictures to stack into one shot? What program do you use to stack them all?September 11, 2018 at 10:13 pm #33468
Yep, I built it kind of a bit at a time- first I built the slide, then I wanted a way to position the camera for top down or angled shots, so I built the hinged thingy. I might be able to use less frames, but I keep my aperture as low as possible, because I don’t have much for macro lighting. It is like doing HDR-the more frames the better, since you would rather not use some than miss a critical one. I should experiment some more and see. So far, i just use Photoshop to stack them. Kind of slow, but it works, and I already have it, so I don’t need to buy Helicon or something dedicated.September 12, 2018 at 12:34 pm #33500
Gotcha. Well, I was singing your praises last night during the webinar. 🙂 You can watch my comments at about minute 52:16, https://www.lenspiration.com/video/webinar091118/
So, is there a special, automated setting that Photoshop provides for focus stacking? Or is it a Blend Mode or something that you use?September 13, 2018 at 11:28 pm #33562
I start by opening all the images as layers in photoshop, then go to Edit> Auto align Layers. Choose stack, not panorama as the method. When that command finishes, go to Edit> Auto blend Layers. Select the Auto method, and check the Correct Geometric Distortion. It takes a while when you are working with hundreds of Raw files! Depending on the number of frames and megapixel size, it can take about half an hour.September 14, 2018 at 1:05 pm #33568
Here is a grasshopper I caught yesterday and stacked based on @rmadris and @jamesstaddons’ critique. Still a little fuzzy around the antennae, but there is not much I can do about that. I think it does look much better, but the poor bug is covered in some kind of super fine dust that looks like bread crumbs up this close. I should blow it off and try again. Also, I used a f/stop of 9 this time, and cut the number of frames to about 30-50. I also used a trial version of Helicon for the stacking- much, much faster and better results. Processing time is about 6 min., and even better, I have it as a LR plugin.September 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm #33583
I start by opening all the images as layers in photoshop, then…
Thank you so much for sharing!September 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm #33608September 21, 2018 at 10:07 am #33702
Incredible! I really like 1 and 3 especially. I feel like they are “composed”, complementing the sheer wow factor of the subject.September 21, 2018 at 11:47 am #33707
I just have to say… Absolutely incredible!! I especially love the 1st picture – I find the “pose” humorous 😀
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