The How Zone

Macro Photography II

Closer than Close

Cumin seed w/salt
Tip of Cumin Seed - Click for Full Size

Ok, now we have a 50mm lens reversed and taped to the end of a 300mm zoom lens. What now? First off we have to readjust our whole concept of close-ups. The formula for determining the amount of magnification is:

magnification = focal length of main lens / focal length of reversed lens

That means at full zoom our setup is at 6x magnification. This isn't the same as the 3x zoom your point and shoot camera. This means things show up in the photos six times real size. The photo shows the tip of a cumin seed, a seed which is barely as big as the tip of a pencil and we are only seeing one fourth of the seed. I had no idea cumin seeds had spikes on the end. Oh, and those are salt crystals next to it.

This brings up two really important questions:

  1. What are you going to photograph (is it small enough)?
  2. What part of it are you going to focus on?

When you get down to (up to?) this level of magnification you are faced with the realization that there's too much to focus on and not enough to focus with. Something which seemed flat or small has too much depth and you can't get all of it in focus. This is where technique and patience come into play.

Take this fly photo, for example. What to focus on? Eyes? Mouth gear? Where the heck did all of those hairs come from??? It's lucky for me that this is an old, dead fly found on a windowsill because a real fly would have flown off long before I figured out what to photograph.

Fly Eye
Fly Eye/Mouth Area - Click for Full Size

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