Alternative Approach to Macro Photography
Capturing Macro Shots without a Macro Lens
Welcome to the Vocal Account for Eric C. Jackson Studio. I specialize in Fine Art Photography and Creative Writing. This article is written for beginners in Macro Photography. Would you like to improve your Work? Perhaps, a better question is: Are you able to capture macro photography?
I use a Canon 5D Mark II w/ a 24-105mm lens. At 105mm, I can zoom into a Subject fairly close, yet not close enough to capture macro photography. The camera can only get so close to the Subject before it will no longer be able to focus.
The above photograph is a capture of my most recent Subject. The green mums have a beautiful color. However, I wanted to fill the entire frame with a single mum. The Canon macro lens for the 5D Mark II cost well over a thousand dollars. Because this is outside of my current budget, I needed to figure out if I could capture macro photography using an alternative method.
After a couple of failed attempts, I heard about macro extension tubes that can be attached to the camera lens. The extension tubes move the lens further away from the camera sensor giving photographers the ability to get extremely close to any Subject while keeping it in focus.
Several photographers have compared the quality of captures from lenses with extension tubes with captures from typical macro lenses. The consensus is the typical macro lenses maintain the best quality. However, the quality of the glass in my 24-105mm is very good. The extension tubes do not have glass in them, which means they do not directly lessen the quality of your photography. In other words, if you are using a good lens, your Work will still reflect that while using the extension tubes.
The amazing aspect of extension tubes is the ability to capture macro photography at a fraction of the cost without losing a significant amount of quality as highlighted by the photograph above. I purchased the MEIKE Metal Auto Focus Extension Set of 3 for less than $30. Each tube adds millimeters to the lens: 13mm, 21mm, and 31mm respectively. You can attach one, two, or all three extension tubes to your lens at one time. Mix and match tube sizes to find the proper focus depending on how close you need to get to your Subject.
Keep in mind, if all three extension tubes are used, you need to move your lens to 105mm. Otherwise, you will not be able to focus on the Subject. In the macro photography I've included above, the lens is practically touching the flower. At first, it can be difficult to find the proper focus. After a few hours of practice, I found a better rhythm for how close I could get to the Subject with various extension combinations.
The biggest drawback to using extension tubes is the weight of the camera is unevenly distributed. I tend in capture better Compositions hand-held opposed to using a tripod. I had to find the right camera settings to capture a proper exposure. Most of my initial captures were slightly out of focus simply because I couldn't hold the camera steady enough during the shot. There are adjustments that can be made in Editing to sharpen captures with a soft focus. Yet, it's best to capture a sharp photograph from the start.
The best advice I can give to new macro photographers is to be patient. Practice, practice, practice. Learn how to control the focal point. Even with Auto Focus on my extension tubes, I focus the camera manually. I practiced shifting the focus from foreground to mid-ground to background and back to foreground. My eyes had to become more comfortable to see where the focal point lands. The mums are very small and it can be difficult, at times, to see where the focal point lands.
Be creative. Use your imagination. Consider the Style of Photography you would like to capture. Think outside of the box. Sounds cliche, but it is necessary to create solid work. I will share one final capture, which is a shift to black and white photography.
The same Subject can be approached in several unique ways. Do not be afraid to fail at something you try. Continue to experiment and persevere along the way. I hope that you learned something from my experience. ecj