This month the Creative Craft Bloggers Group Challenge is about photography. For this challenge I dipped my toe into the world of macro photography. I would have loved to jump in, but a good quality macro lens is a bit pricey. Instead, my son told me about macro tubes (also called extension tubes) which help to increase the magnification of your existing lens and help you get up close and personal with your subject.
I have had a blast with my set of tubes. They came with two adapters: one for the camera body and another for the lens. In between that are three tubes of different lengths which screw onto both adapters. You can use the tubes separately or in combination to get various degrees of magnification.
Now, my set does not maintain the connection between the lens and the camera so I wasn’t able to adjust the aperture size and the lenses autofocus won’t work. There are sets which have contacts but it wasn’t a big deal for me. Someone who’s not comfortable shooting manual can set their camera to aperture priority and let the camera do the selection.
The photo of the dandelion above was taken with my regular workhorse lens. I turned the autofocus off, set my camera to manual and used the built in light meter to help me with the settings. After I took the initial photo I started adding length to the lens with the macro tubes.
The longer the lens, the closer you have to get to the object and the more difficult it becomes to hold the camera steady. If you’re outside the breeze will move your subject as well. You’ll definitely want to play around with the settings to allow a rapid shutter speed. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about how your DSLR works.
To take the photo above I had to lay on my stomach and use my elbows as a makeshift tripod. I wish the ant would have cooperated by standing still but I’m not disappointed with my close up view. You can see the pollen on the curly v’s of the stamen.
I borrowed my son’s tripod and it was really too tall to get photos of flowers less than a couple feet tall, so in order to snap the photos of the dandelions after they’d gone to seed, I picked a couple and brought them inside. You can see in the photo how close I had to get.
The dandelion heads are amazing close up as you can see in this photo taken without any macro tubes. You have the area where the seeds are attached and also the fluffy bits which carry the seeds away. It just took a slight twist of the focusing ring of the lens to change the area of focus and get a different effect.
These photos would be fun to play around with in a photo editing program. You could adjust the color and saturation to get an abstract effect.
I’ve taken a ton of other photos with various objects and found you need to experiment with the distance from the object. Some shots looked great on the camera but lost sharpness on my computer screen. You will also have a very shallow depth of field as seen in the ant photo above. Fine objects, like the eye of a needle, required almost touching to get a focussed shot while larger objects like a handful of coins did not. Without a tripod I needed to bump up the ISO to increase the shutter speed in order to get a photo that was in focus.
For something that cost less than $20 I’ve certainly gotten a lot of entertainment from my macro tubes. I can’t wait to get back home to the better quality lens I left in Spain.
Here are a couple of affiliate links for Amazon. The first is the set of macro tubes I purchased. The second is a slightly more expensive set which maintains contact with the camera so you can use all the automatic functionality. Be sure to check they are compatible with your camera before ordering:
Finally, I want to share a video of a song I remember from Sesame Street called “That’s About the Size of It.” I found myself humming it while I was learning how to use my macro tubes.
Janet from Try It – Like It shared a few iPhone Photography Tips. You’d be surprised how many of those beautiful images you see on social media are taken with mobile phones.
Home Crafts by Ali has Photography Tips for Beginners you’ll find helpful.