Experimenting With Close-Up Photography

If you have  been following Lingua Franca, you already know that I’ve begun to embrace close-up and macro photography with a greater fervor than ever before.  The problem now is that I don’t have the proper gear to get really close to my subjects to get the real effect of one-to-one miniature photography.

Based on limited resources, I plan to buy a Fotodiox macro reverse ring camera mount adaptor with a 52mm filter thread lens to experiment and explore with what is called reversing ring photography.  A reversing ring will allow me to reverse-mount a 50mm “Nifty-Fifty” fixed lens on the Canon DSLR camera body.  This photography technique will allow you to attach a lens to a camera body in reverse, and when you do this you can often get up to 4X magnification with standard lenses.

If you already own a 50mm prime or standard kit lens (around 18-55mm focal length range) then reverse lens macro is the least expensive way there is to get up close.  The reverse lens technique involves turning the lens around so that the rear element points outwards, and the front element faces the camera body.  How do you do this?  By buying  a special adapter called “reverse ring” to attach the reversed lens to either your camera body or other lens.

If you have an extension tube, you can attach it to the reversed lens.  This helps protect the rear element and act as a lens hood.

In normal use, a 50mm lens focuses light from far way, so that the image is much smaller and be recorded by a digital sensor or on film.  Reverse the lens and the opposite occurs.  The 50mm lens magnifies what it sees, giving near life-size reproduction.  This is exactly what I’m looking for.

The reversed lens technique gets you so close to your subject that’s it’s almost impossible to hand-hold the camera.  For best results, use a tripod to keep the camera steady, and a cable release to fire up the shutter.  I find it best to use this set-up indoors, especially for delicate subjects like flowers,  If you try it outside, the slightest breeze will move the flowers and exacerbate the photo.  In this scenario a tripod should be your best friend.

You can use natural light to illuminate your subject, as long as you don’t mind using a tripod and long shutter speeds to get the required exposure.

When you reverse-mount a wide-angle lens, the magnification increases dramatically.  The wider, the better—35, 28, 24, or a 20mm lens.  To do reverse lens photography all you need is the following gear:

  • Camera
  • Lens
  • Reversing Ring
  • Tripod

The price of a Fotodiox reversing ring at Amazon is only $12.48—very affordable if you ask me.

For the time being, I’m exploring miniature options using Vivitar’s Close-Up Macro Lenses (Series 1) which I bought last year.  For today’s picture of a Hot Wheels miniature car, I used the 10X macro lens screwed to my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II fixed lens.  The result was quite decent.  Of course, it can be improved. More of this kind of photographs will be on the way in the upcoming future.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.


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