LIVING SMALL

Losing My Macro Virginity

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Moshe Levis, Founder / Photographer / Writer

A reverse ring? What the hell is a reverse ring? was my initial reaction when I fisrt heard someone using that term.

I remember, a couple of years after I started shooting more “professionally”, seeing a lot of macro shots on websites like 500px and Flickr, and I wanted to try it myself. Some of the shots were really breathtaking.

Back then with my first “professional” camera (at least that’s how I called her), the Pentax k-r, I was confident enough that I could take some really amazing macro shots. How hard could it possibly be? Taking a photo is just a click away.

Boy, was I wrong!

Sage
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Leaf of sage

Photo by Moshe Levis

I ordered a reverse adapter ring for my camera that fit my lens kit. I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait to start shooting insects and other tiny subjects, but after attaching the reverse ring I had to stop and think, where the hell am I going to find insects? When I find them, why would I want to touch them? What if I found a spider? I would probably smash him with my shoes without even thinking (sorry).

For that reason I decided to start with something big, but something that could provide an interesting and very small texture – a sage leaf.

Sage
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A not edited photo of the sage plant. Right out of the camera f/38 | 30 sec / 55mm / ISO 100

Photo by Moshe Levis

I set up a white table with no strobe lights or speedlights because I didn’t have any. All I had was my kitchen light, and that’s why it took 30 seconds to get the picture above with that aperture. I was just playing around. Testing the waters, you know? Checking the light temperture, the overall texture of the leaves etc.

A few minutes later I was ready to try my reverse ring method.

A reverse ring is an adapter that lets you connect the lens to the camera, from the front side of the lens. By doing so, you are reversing the magnification aspect which lets you get clos- er and closer to your subject while maintaining some focus. Pretty much a made up, extremely cheap macro lens.

When I got closer to the sage leaf and tried taking a picture I stumbled upon my first problem. The aperture. Because the lens is connected from the other side, all the automatic func- tions of the camera can’t control the lens. The aperture was to small for any light to get it so I had to control the aperture, manually.

How? There is a small pin that moves from side to side. That pin controls the aperture blades. Great! So I could move it and open the blades as wide as possible. Great! But then what? My finger was in the way! I had to keep the pin at the widest opening but it didn’t stay there, it kept going back because that’s how it works.

So I grabbed a small piece of paper and folded it until it fit the hole, where the pin was, and kept it from moving back. Awesome!

After taking a few shots I found another problem. Because my aperture was at its widest, my depth of field was extremely shallow so almost nothing (interesting) was in focus. It just wasn’t it!

After Googling and YouTubing what to do – focus stacking – I positioned my camera on a tripod and focused on the closest part of the leaf. Then, shot after shot I focused further away until I covered the whole leaf.

The results? See the previous page.

I also tried it with a dead fly I found in the kitchen – don’t ask – but it didn’t work too well. The fly was… well… dead! So I didn’t try too much anyway.

This is to remember the dear fly. Please let’s all take a minute.

Fly
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A not edited photo of Fly. Right out of the camera settings are not important. Focus on the fly.

Photo by Moshe Levis

After that day in the kitchen, I was confident anough to get out there, to the big scary world, and try capturing things that people don’t usually pay attention to.

I decided not to use focus stacking and just focus on one small part, within that already small subject. I shot everything I saw that might have had some interest to it. Something that might look cool if we could just see it up close.

From nails to cactus spikes, to inside of roses… every object or living thing deserved a photoshoot.

That little adventure taught me something very important. Reverse ring adapters are potential camera killers.
Beware!

Rose
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Photo by Moshe Levis

Nail
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Photo by Moshe Levis

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The World of Lenses

When asked to write this article, I found myself thinking there is so much to write about. I enjoy shooting many types of Photography. Shooting from Macro shots to Concerts, and many things in between, I enjoy the challenges of the different situations. Owning also a Studio that has Green Screen, which holds another interesting world of endless creativity with backgrounds.

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