Super Macro Morning

How easy is it to push the boundaries of macro photography? We decided to find out this Saturday morning with a small in-store workshop.

Anybody can buy an off the shelf macro lens and get great pictures of objects that are the size of coins or flowers – but what about pushing the limits into “micro” photography, when your subject matter is much smaller – smaller in fact than that sensor in your camera?

Just about any lens you care to use actually shrinks objects. Yup, even that monster 600mm telephoto doesn’t really “magnify” the world. Think about it, even if you photograph that eagle with your monster lens, it only ends up a few millimetres high on your sensor – smaller than it is in the real world.

Micro photography is defined as enlarging the real world to something bigger than it really is, at least on film or your sensor. Then, you can print that photo to really blow it up.

Trouble is, one questions how much photographic art there is in micro photography. Or is it just a scientific exercise into the world of the microscope.

So we thought we’d give it a shot. Getting sharp images isn’t easy. The tiniest vibration will blur available light shots, so we ended up shooting the best ones with flash. As for optics we fooled around with reversing traditional macro lenses, reversed enlarging lenses, and even a homebrew gadget using an 8mm movie camera lens reversed on an old body cap (which worked surprisingly well, given its modest cost and pretensions).

Here are some photos of our setup (we found a copy stand worked easier than a table top tripod at these high magnifications). And in case you’re wondering, that’s an ancient Leitz bellows (from a Visoflex) adapted to fit our Nikon.

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~ by windsorphotooutfitters on October 2, 2010.

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