Macro Insects

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Lydia Bennett 3 days, 2 hours ago.

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  • #33245

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    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!

    Attachments:
    #33256

    Ryan Madaris
    Participant

    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!

    #33259

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    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!

    #33369

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    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?

    #33468

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    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.

    #33500

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    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?

    #33562

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    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.

    #33568

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    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.

    #33583

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    I start by opening all the images as layers in photoshop, then…

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    #33608

    Josiah Waldner
    Participant

    Sure! Looks like I forgot to attach the grasshopper pics. Oh, well- I learned how to fix the blur around the antennas. I turned the f/stop up to about 20. Here is the latest from the setup.

    Attachments:
    #33702

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Incredible! I really like 1 and 3 especially. I feel like they are “composed”, complementing the sheer wow factor of the subject.

    #33707

    Lydia Bennett
    Participant

    I just have to say… Absolutely incredible!! I especially love the 1st picture – I find the “pose” humorous 😀

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