Monday, July 13, 2015

Doing things backwards

I bought myself some camera goodies today; my belated selfie birthday present. A new lens, a Nikon Micro 60 mm. A flash to replace a good one I had that got lost. And an expensive - 2 whole bucks at the dollar store - reflecting screen/foam poster board.

I got home with it all, dropped the whole works on the kitchen table, unpacked the lens and attached it to the camera, and took a couple dozen sample shots, hand-held.

The instructions, which I read later, said to always use this lens with a tripod, but I was too impatient to take the couple of minutes to set it up. And I wiped down the outside of my tank, first, but left the inside as is; after all, I'd scrubbed it well yesterday. So of course, there's a new algae scum fuzzing up the glass. And all the photos are noisy, as a result.

I'm still happy. Even under those conditions, the lens performed better than the 40 mm on its best behaviour.

A few samples: I've done minimal processing on these; cropping, despeckling, reducing noise. And eliminating a few inconvenient copepods.

"Hail, fellow, well met!"


This is not a great shot, but it would have been absolutely impossible with the other lens, even with the tripod and the lighting set up just right. This was a dark corner, in the back of the tank, with only a glimpse between waving eelgrass blades. The crab was just barely visible, and I hadn't even noticed the arm of the starfish in the clamshell. The backdrop is a rotting, ancient abalone shell.

Did I say I'm happy?

Happy, or at least hopeful, barnacle and his penis.

Peaches and the eelgrass ghost.

Balancing act. Tiny hermit on the knife edge of an old clamshell.

Apart from the noise, this lens cleans up the backgrounds considerably. Since the depth of field is so small, everything in back is blurred and blended together. In a busy tank, where I can't really control where my critters are going to pose, that's a real benefit.

I haven't unpacked the flash yet. That's tomorrow's treat. And then I'll set up the tripod and "reflector" and clean the glass properly, and take some more sample shots.

And there's a manual to read for the flash; it looks complicated. Every new model has to have more rabbits in hats and pigeons up sleeves, and it takes some doing to find them all and get them to behave. I'll be busy for a while.


  1. How long have you been shooting without an external flash? Makes your recent macro photos all the more impressive.

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  3. Tim, Quite a while. Although I use a small slave flash off to the side, and often shield the on-camera flash so that the slave sees it and responds, but the light doesn't hit my critters in the face. And I have a collection of other lights, a spot and some LEDs, that move around to get the light where I want it. Not ideal, but since the good flash got lost (I can't imagine how, but I can't find it anywhere), I've had to work with what I had.

  4. Glad you got some nice new toys for your photography. You do so many excellent close-ups. - Margy


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