Saturday, March 30, 2013

Inexpensive Close-Up Photography: reverse rings

Bee photographed using a reverse ring on a Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens.
Close-up bee photographed by Archaeofrog on Flickr
A second, inexpensive way to achieve macro-level results in your photography is with the use of an inexpensive reverse ring mount adapter. A reverse ring allows you to mount your camera lens backwards on your camera body and get closer to the subject you want to photograph.  You can read my full guest post about how to use a reverse ring for close-up photography on Photokonnexion. 

If interested, you can shop for reverse rings on Amazon. Make sure you choose a ring that fits the brand of your camera and the diameter (width) of the lens you want to reverse.

Part 1 in the series about Inexpensive Close-Up Photography is about close-up lenses.
Part 3 in the series about Inexpensive Close-Up Photography is about extension tubes.
Part 4 in the series about Inexpensive Close-Up Photography details tips and tricks for the best results.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Travel: What's Your Sign?

Whenever I travel to a new place, I find myself initially overwhelmed at the newness of it all.  It often takes several days to adjust, after which time I soon find myself ignoring or marginalizing things that seemed fascinating, confusing, or beautiful only days before.

One way I avoid falling into this trap of familiarity is to give myself a project or a focus – a task to seek out and document something specific. One that I have found consistently interesting is signs. Signs, particularly the symbols used to represent certain actions or behaviors, are highly variable in different areas and countries.  Signs can also be quite humorous in their depictions of people or warnings.  

Travel Photography: What's Your Sign? | Boost Your Photography
Warning signs about cliff edges in Yellowstone National Park,
train tracks in Berlin, and glaciers in New Zealand, .

I also like to keep my eyes open for bilingual signs.  While the red octagon is already a universal symbol, I found it interesting that stop signs in Jordan proclaim their message in both English and Arabic. In many countries outside the United States, exit signs are green, rather than red, to encourage people to go that way in case of an emergency.

Bilingual stop sign and exit signs in Jordan.
Photographs of signs are also quite useful when you return from your travels. It can be extremely frustrating to be going back through your pictures days, weeks, or years later and to realize you have no idea what the name was of the particular sight, view, object, or architecture you photographed. I've made it a habit of grabbing a picture of the sign, label, or place name, even if it’s just a snapshot, to help jog my memory later. While many of these end up being 'throw away shots' that I just use for record purposes, sometimes the combination of sign and object can share something important.

Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park with label and warning sign.
Morning Glory Pool by Archaeofrog on Flickr
So, next time you take a trip or even just a walk around the block, keep your eyes open and your camera out, because you never know what interesting sign might catch your eye.

I'm not sure what you're allowed to do here,
according to this sign in Prague, Czech Republic.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Inexpensive Close-Up Photography: close-up lenses

Wood Violets shot with a Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens and a +10 close-up lens.
Wood Violets by Archaeofrog on Flickr

Many people assume that macro or close-up photography requires expensive lenses or equipment, but you can achieve macro-level results with a minimal investment.

In the article below, I discuss the use of close-up lenses that screw on to your current camera lens, allowing you to explore close-up photography with the equipment you already have.  You can read the article on close-up lenses here on Photokonnexion.

If interested, you can shop for Close-Up Lenses on

Part 2 of the series on Inexpensive Close-Up Photography is about reverse rings.
Part 3 of the series on Inexpensive Close-Up Photography is about extension tubes.
Part 4 in the series about Inexpensive Close-Up Photography details tips and tricks for the best results.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make the Shot: Close-Up Eyeball

Make this shot: close-up eyeball | Boost Your Photography

The iris of the eye is like a fingerprint - a unique pattern that signifies an individual. A close-up or macro photograph of an eye shows off a great deal of detail we might otherwise miss. In this post, I'll explain how I took the shot above of my own eye.


The set-up for this shot was fairly basic: I needed a window with bright light and a tripod. I knew that I wanted to go for an overexposed or high-key style, so I taped a piece of bright white paper to the side of the window, behind my head. Then I secured my Canon T1i on the tripod with the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens and a +10 close-up lens for added magnification. (You can read more about close-up lenses and their application here.) I knew that I wanted the entirety of the iris in focus, so I used an aperture of f/7.1 and a shutter speed of 1/100, which my camera's sensor recorded as somewhat overexposed.

Lining up my eye using the string for focus.
My main concern was focus, but I solved that problem with a piece of string and a marker. First, I tied the string around the base of the tripod. Then, I looked through the viewfinder of the camera and held the string taut, away from the tripod. With my other hand, I moved the marker until it was exactly in focus, and then used it to mark the string at that exact point. Now, all I had to do was hold the string up to my eye, and I knew it would be in focus.

Making the Shot

Once I had the settings dialed in, I used the string to guide where to position my eye. Then, I used a remote control to trigger the camera. I usually took three to five shots each time before going back to check them on the camera's LCD display, checking to see that my eye was centered in the frame and in focus.  I also experimented with looking in different directions towards and away from the camera.

Final Steps

I wanted the pure white look of a high-key shot, so I did some quick modifications on the computer. Using the RAW file in Adobe Photoshop, I bumped up the exposure and cropped slightly (the dark spot in the upper right was bugging me). A comparison of the before and after versions of the shot is below.

The eye shot before (left) and after (right) post processing.
So that's all you need to create a stunning close-up shot of your own eyeball. Feel free to link to your own shots taken using these suggestions in the comments below.

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