Up Tight and Extended

Tonight, I get out a new toy I’ve been dying to play with.  Extension tubes.  For my non-photographer readers, these make it possible to focus with the lens much closer to the subject, resulting in really up-close photos.

As I start to set up to see what kind of macro shots I can get with a 36mm extension tube on my 100mm macro lens, my favorite model strikes a pose on the couch, cuddling Mr. Beaver.  I decide to see if I can grab a couple shots of Tisen before I switch lenses.

Of course, when I position a light and line up the camera, he jumps up and joins me on my side of the camera.  I coax him back to the couch by sitting down.  However, I cleverly brought the remote with me (mainly because I’d forgotten it was in my pocket) and confuse the heck out of Tisen (and probably Mr. Beaver, too) when the camera clicks but I haven’t moved.

Surprisingly, a bunch of things align that don’t usually work out–the camera is focused on the correct part of the couch, the depth of field is decent, and I am cut out of the frame.  All the things I look for in a picture of my dog.  🙂

Of course, I don’t know if the pictures are in focus or if Tisen is even in the frame because I’m sitting on the couch.  So, I sneak away to see if I can get Tisen to stay on the couch while I check the settings.  Mr. Beaver doesn’t seem to notice I’ve gotten up, but Tisen watches intently to make sure I’m not going far without him.

Eventually, my husband complains I’m blinding him with the light and I return to setting up for macro shooting.  About the time I get the extension tube on, the lens attached, the tripod readjusted to floor height, and the light angled to light the area of the floor under the lens, I realize I don’t have a subject.

I look around the room in desperation.  I remember some really cool shots I saw at a macro workshop I went to last month.  The instructor had set up a clear glass pan suspended above colored wrapping paper and mixed oil and water in the pan.

Since I can’t find a glass dish, don’t have anything to suspend a dish, and don’t have any wrapping paper, I opt for a small, fake crystal dish with a tiny bit of water and a drop of sesame oil set on top of an area rug.

I learn several things from this experiment.  First, in spite of having vacuumed only an hour earlier, there is a lot of dog hair in the rug!  Second, the shots with the oil layer in focus are the least interesting.  In spite of the dog hair, I like being able to see all the way through the glass.  Perhaps I should have tried on a different background.


14 responses to “Up Tight and Extended

  1. nice shots. And that’s quite a rig you have there for photography. I’m looking for a new tripod, what brand do you have?

    • Thanks! After putting off upgrading my tripod for 5 years and then finally deciding it was time, it took me another 3 months to decide to spend the money on a Really Right Stuff tripod. I’m a little embarrassed to have a tripod that’s so much above my skill. But, I’ve used it more in 5 months than I used my old one in 5 years, so I think I’ll get my money’s worth.

      • I’ve found that you can spend money on cheaper stuff, or you can spend it on really good stuff that will last you longer and give you better images. To me, it depends on what you are trying to do: take snapshots or make really good images.

      • I’ve come to the conclusion that a) 9 times out of 10, you get what you pay for, b) I don’t want to spend the time and energy it takes to pick out something more often than absolutely necessary, c) I don’t want to add to land fills by going through cheap crap, and d) I tend to calculate my personal ROI on cost per use. Just the usability of this tripod vs my old one alone increases the odds I’ll get a better picture because I actually use it. Plus, my old tripod couldn’t support my 100-400mm lens. It was kind of sad to get the tripod set, let go, and watch it sink into a completely different position. 🙂

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