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Thread: Want to take good macros?? A step by step guide

  1. #1
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Want to take good macros?? A step by step guide

    Here is a step by step guide to take your macro photography

    From this:


    To this:


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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:25 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    EQUIPMENT:

    First a few statement on my equipment:

    1. Camera - I am using a Digital SLR. This gives me complete control of the exposure. It also gives me immediate feedback when I shoot the photo. I currently own a "Pentax *ist DS". All my "old film lenses" mount to this.
    2. Tripod - My tripod is critical to help hold the camera exactly where I want it and is extremely helpful when focusing during extreme macro shots.
    3. External Flash - This helps light up the subject and gives better "depth" to the image.
    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:34 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    IMAGE SIZE:

    Note: Most of my photos posted on this forum have been resized to 1024 wide X 1024 tall (or less). The JPG quality has been adjusted to keep the filesize less than 97.7K. (Original images are 3000 x2000 tall stored with a filesize of 2000K)


    So I found a subject, the "Scarlet Hermit Crab". I cleaned the glass earlier today, and he moved to a great location for some photos. He was facing and touching glass, which is key for the extreme macro shot.

    The camera is on the tripod.

    I attached my wide angle zoom lens [Pentax SMC DA 18-55MM F3.5-5.6 AL Lens (21547)]. Set the lens to 55mm. Turned the focus to its closest distance. Moved and adjusted the tripod to get the camera positioned so the crab was in focus.

    For this first image, I set the camera to Auto (no flash) and snapped a shot.

    I have 3 main ways to get the image within the 1024x1024 (97.7K) limits:

    First is to resize (this looks like original, only smaller):


    Second is to crop (this is just a portion of original, with all original pixels intact):


    Third is the crop, Then resize (this gets the proper composition as well as shrinks to good size):



    Not too bad for "tank light" images. Right??
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:33 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    F-STOP (Aperture) -- Depth of Field

    Well the last image was OK, but I would like to see more things in focus. Notice all the substrate behind the hermit crab is not in focus. By adjusting the "F number" from the default (8) to a larger number (40), I can increase the amount of things in focus. I set my camera to Av. Then adjusted the number to 40 (largest it will go). I then snapped this photo:



    Well, this photo has a lot more stuff in focus, but the hermit looks a little fuzzy....

    When I changed the "F number" to 40, the camera automatically adjusted the shutter speed from (1/100s) to (1/5 s) to keep the amount of light hitting the CCD the same. In other words, adjusting the F number from 8 to 40 decreased the amount of light hitting the CCD by a factor of 20, so the shutter stayed open 20 times longer to compensate. Also anything moving will be 20 times more blurry.
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:35 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  5. #5
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    SHUTTER SPEED AND FLASH

    Well, how do I get both fast shutter speed and good depth?

    Put the camera in Manual Mode and pop up the on camera flash! Now I have full control of the Shutter speed and the F number. The flash automatically adjust to get the correct amount of light. I set the camera shutter speed to 1/160 (F number =40) and take a shot:



    This is looking more promising (Well I thought I cleaned the glass good):



    PHOTOSHOP - "ADJUST LEVELS"
    I thought it a little bland, so I used the "adjust levels" tool in Photoshop:


    PHOTOSHOP - "UNSHARPEN MASK"
    And the edges look a little fuzzy, so I also used "Unsharpen Mask" in Photoshop:


    Not too bad now! I think this looks acceptable.
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:40 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    EXTERNAL FLASH

    I thought that last image was a little "Flat". I have an external flash that connects up to the camera with a cable. I set it on "manual" mode.

    I can now hold the external flash above and to the right of the subject. A few shots were taken. If the subject was too dark, I moved the flash closer. If it too bright, I move flash away (I also can change the flash brightness if needed).

    I picked one that had some shadows in the substate. I also used the Photoshop "adjust levels" and "unsharpen mask":



    I believe this is about as good as I can get with this lens. If glass was cleaner, I would be happy.
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:41 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Lets switch to my 50mm lens with 2X converter. This is older lens and does not focus as close as the 18-55. I had to move the camera way back for these shots. This setup is like a 100mm lens, but with the camera so far back, the hermit takes up less image space com[pared to the earlier photos with the newer 55mm.

    Here is a shot:

    Resize only:


    Resize and "level adjust and "unsharpen mask":


    Crop and "level adjust" and "unsharpen mask":


    This looks acceptable to!
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:45 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  8. #8
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    THREAD-ON CLOSE UP LENS

    Lets get closer. I have a "thread on" close up lens that goes on the 50mm.

    I now have to move the camera closer to the tank.

    Notice the background is getting out of focus again. The more we magnify the shallower the depth of field becomes. I still have the F number as high as possible.

    Resize/level adjusted/unsharpen mask:


    Cropped/level adjust/unsharpen mask:
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:42 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  9. #9
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    STACKED LENSES

    By stacking lenses, I can get even closer:

    I attach my 35-135 zoom to my camera. I then tread on an adapter that allows me to tread on the 50mm "face to face". I put the 50mm focus on infinity. Set the zoom on 35mm and move the tripod back and forth to get the subject in focus.

    I hold external flash and shoot. Notice again the background out of focus.

    Resize only (boy did I get lucky with the flash distance!):


    Crop only:
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:47 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  10. #10
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    ZOOM THE STACK

    The magnification increase as the primary gets larger. The depth of field shrinks as the primary gets larger.

    So now the tricky part:

    Center the area to zoom in on. Change zoom from 35 up to 135. As I zoom in, I need to move the tripod back to keep hermit in focus. I focusing on his eyes.

    Resize only:


    Crop Only:


    Crop/resize/adjust levels/unsharpen mask/clone tool to remove "defects":
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    Last edited by kharrell; 11-22-2007 at 10:52 PM.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  11. #11
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Using extension tubes is in my near future.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  12. #12
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Extension tubes will give better results than the "thread on" close up ring.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  13. #13
    Registered User racer69's Avatar

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    I just purchased my extension rings online and will expect them next week. I also bought a nice external flash online and expect it about the same time. I am hoping to be able to play around with my macros by next weekend.
    At SCMAS, we are all Premium Members.

    Todd

  14. #14
    Registered User mountaindew's Avatar

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    Karrel,
    Great write up, lots of good tips and pics!
    one question
    i dont under stand the stacked lens part? can you show pic of that equipment
    i have a 2x matched multiplier lens that all other lenses attach to to, is that what you are using?

  15. #15
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    I'll see if I can get some shots of the setup.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    Registered User LDogg's Avatar

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    very nice thread. I will stick it.
    Got Pico?

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    How close were you from the glass with the camera? as you stack rings and lenses you moved back from the aquarium?
    C


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  18. #18
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reefkoi View Post
    How close were you from the glass with the camera? as you stack rings and lenses you moved back from the aquarium?
    C
    About 1/4" from glass.
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

  19. #19
    Registered User kharrell's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post
    Karrel,
    ...i dont under stand the stacked lens part...

    ...i have a 2x matched multiplier lens that all other lenses attach to to, is that what you are using....
    The front of 2 lenses are attached to each other with a special threaded adapter. After they are stacked, the camera would be able to mount to either end. I attach the camera to the "longer focal length" lens. For the last photo in this thread, my 50mm was the lens that was almost touching the tank.


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    Last edited by kharrell; 12-11-2007 at 11:40 PM. Reason: Added Photos
    My Tank Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Macro Photography Thread

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    I found that with the 10X macro adapter that I can't get close enough to my corals to take pix.
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