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Old Jun 24, 2011, 4:08 PM   #1
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I got a eSATA drive (port) last week and have started copying all my CDs and DVDs on to it. I was somewhat surprised that a number of my first disks are no longer readable for some reason, which saddens me but not totally surprising. Most of them I haven't looked at in several years and I knew from the beginning that CDs have a finite life-span. I just didn't realize how little that really was.

But the loss of some of my pictures wasn't really what I wanted to mention. As I was going through CD after CD I was surprised by the huge number of pictures I took a couple of years ago, especially considering that I haven't been taking many over the last couple of months.

One of the reasons I think I improved relatively quickly is the shear number of pictures I was taking - lots of practice. So I decided that I needed to make more of an effort to get out and play with my cameras, it really is play-time for me and I haven't been playing enough.

One of the things I've always loved to do is macro, but I haven't done any in a very long time. So a couple of days ago, at 4 am in the morning, I made a point of bringing both my macro lens and a tripod to work, for a lunchtime of macro photography. At that hour of the morning my mind doesn't work very well and I thought that I could use the 35mm lens on the reversing ring in front of the Viv 105, it had 49mm threads and my reversing ring has 52 male threads on one side and 49 male threads on the other. They say that using wider lenses add more magnification and it sounded like a good idea to use the 35 over the 50mm I usually use reversed.

As I was actually pulling out all my stuff at lunchtime, I realized my mistake. The 35mm I have is the DA Limited - as in no aperture ring. Ooops - there's no way to control the aperture on the reversed lens, and from what others have written, you should stop down the reversed lens, not the lens on the camera. So my only choice was to either shoot with the 35mm completely stopped down (and an impossibly dark viewfinder!) or wide open, by holding the lever in my hand to open the aperture blades.

I should have given up, it was a frustrating experience mostly. There I was on the top level of a parking structure with the camera on a tripod, trying to hold a flower at the right spot and a wireless remote with one hand and hold the lever on the 35 lens with the other. When that didn't work particularly well I tried to hold the flower and the lever with one hand and the shutter with the other - that worked up to a point since the flower could be pretty close to the lens. I really needed 3 hands or a table to put the flower on (I was sitting on the top level of a parking structure, trying to stay out of the breeze, enjoy the sun and have enough light because I didn't have a flash).

Here's the flower:



It's a shrub that's planted all around where I work. I really like the flower when it's not as torn up as this one became before I took the picture (it accidentally lost several petals, which stuck to a lens cap I was trying to use as a "table").

And here are two that I managed to get some sort of appropriate focus. I like the first one because of the detail on the wings, the second one because I like the color.





Shooting at this type of magnification is very, very difficult under the best conditions, and this was about as bad as you can get. Imagine yourself trying to keep a lens open, a flower in focus and operate a shutter, even with the camera on a tripod. It must have looked very odd to people walking by. Hope all of you can get a good laugh imagining such a thing!

So yesterday I thought I'd try to improve my shooting conditions and use a reversed 50 in front of the macro lens. I found a likely looking dandelion. Because it was somewhat windy outside, I had picked the dandelion and carefully brought it into the house (stayed home, was waiting for someone for the house). This is full frame, 1:1 with the Viv.



Here's a full frame (i.e., not cropped) with the 50 reversed in front of the Viv. My 50 is an M verison so it has an aperture ring and that controls the lens opening.



An artistic abstract, one I like because it's so different than my usual cutting-edge sharp photos:



But wait, what do I see on the monitor when I look at this picture?



There's more than one...



At that point I turned off the flash and camera and carefully removed the dandelion from the house.

While I could see an improvement from the previous day of shooting macro, I can tell that I still need to work on things. Would a Raynox work better than reversing a lens? Or perhaps I should limit my macro stuff to 1:1 or just an extension tube? Or practice more and more.
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Old Jun 24, 2011, 6:15 PM   #2
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I'm so glad I'm not the only one that does things like this. Makes a plan to experiment, only to not have thought it out completely. But, you got some nice images of the dandelion out of it. I like the first one best. I can't help you with your questions as I'm a total novice at this stuff.

And, you can keep your little critters. I'll be finishing up three weeks of antibiotics Sunday after having been used as food by a tick. I couldn't figure out why my foot was hurting so much one day when I was in Boston at doctor's appointments. The next night I noticed a "skin tag" coming up between my toes. But, I was taking my aunt to the hospital the next day for a procedure. So, just ignored it. The next day I finally broke down and went to my doctor. We just couldn't see it being between my toes. The little critter was removed, but as a precaution I've been on meds since. I don't even know where he hitched his ride. I hadn't been out in the woods or anything. It grossed me out that he'd been feeding for three days before being removed.

Anyway, to get back on your topic.... I was going to start going through my photos to eliminate and downsize my files. I've never gotten rid of any. Even if they are blurry. I do have access to them all as I keep them on three different hard drives. The files are so large I can't put all my photos on my laptop. I have to carry an external drive to have them.

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Old Jun 24, 2011, 9:30 PM   #3
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I also have made more than my share of mistakes like what you described. I still shudder to think about the time I grabbed just my camera and tripod, leaving my camera bag in the car. I scrambled down a very steep bank, waded through a swamp, and crossed a very thorny patch of brambles to reach the base of a very beautiful waterfall. I carefully set up the tripod and composed my shot in the viewfinder, only to discover that I had no card in the camera. And this was at about 9 a.m. so I couldn't blame it on being groggy!

I like your shots a lot. The first is my favorite, with the flower's long stringy stamens(?). I have done very little macro photography, so I also cannot offer any insights toward your questions.
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Old Jun 24, 2011, 10:29 PM   #4
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The bad part about this is that I had previously considered using the 35 reversed and discarded the idea because of the lack of an aperture ring. So I KNEW about the issue. What's crazy is that I tried it anyway. I could have played with my new polarizer which also fits on the DA 55-300 (both of which were in my camera bag), but no - I had to see if I could possibly make the 35 work.

The flower is interesting to me. I assume the long stringy things are stamens, but don't know that for a fact (biology is not my subject at all). The first picture is taken of their uninteresting side, I'll pick another one next week and concentrate on getting a good picture of them.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 1:10 PM   #5
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Nice work on the dandelion - I'd like to see a "real" macro of the creepy crawlies on it - curious to see what they are.

You moght try the Raynoxes - they are not expensive and lots of folks swear by them (not at them). They are convenient to pop on and off quickly, too.

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I was somewhat surprised that a number of my first disks are no longer readable for some reason, which saddens me but not totally surprising. Most of them I haven't looked at in several years and I knew from the beginning that CDs have a finite life-span. I just didn't realize how little that really was.
Were you using CD/RWs rather than CD/Rs? They are more convenient to use because you can add to them, but they are known to be less stable, and often die sooner that the CD/Rs. We are all victims of changing technology - you have to back up on different media, and transfer to newer media when they appear - remember wire recorders, reel to ree-to-reel decks, 8-track tapes, floppy discs, etc? Even if the media last, the devices to read them eventually disappear.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 6:55 PM   #6
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Very impressive macro shots, the two lens combo certainly takes you well beyond the normal macro range doesn't it.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 10:59 PM   #7
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The CDs were CD-R, I think some of it might have had to do with the CD burner/computer I had at the time. A bunch had the last few files corrupted and a couple were not readable at all. Then at a particular time (my collection is organized chronologically) they all work correctly. And yes, it's amazing to think that changing technology will cause problems with longevity. My boss has a 5 inch (or were they 7 inches?) floppy of an architectural drawing made with a program that was an early AutoCAD competitor, no longer supported/in business. There's no computer around that can read that file any more.

I really should buy a Raynox, I keep saying I'm going to. Next time I'll try harder to get the creepy crawlies - they were so small I didn't really see them even when I knew they were there.

Ira - I've played around with reversing a lens in front of another lens before, it's always interesting. I had reasonable success with the 50 reversed in front of the old K-mount Tak 135 I have, that combination gave me the greatest magnification, leading me to believe that the focal length of the front lens makes a difference, not whether it's a macro lens itself. It might be something you could try playing around with.
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Old Jun 26, 2011, 3:30 PM   #8
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Fascinating results of your varied macro experiments! Isn't it amazing how many tiny details show up that we didn't even notice while photographing!

Hope you are able to get a Raynox - have found mine very useful...
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Old Jun 26, 2011, 4:27 PM   #9
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I think your shots are great

As you can see from this photo I love mix matching thing that were never meant to go together just to see what it can do.

I have a reversing ring but never tried to put two lenses together I might have to get on Ebay and look for a coupler and try it. fortunately all but a couple of my lenses old and new have the same 52mm thread But the new one do not have aperture rings. this is one "advancement" I wish had never come about
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Old Jun 26, 2011, 8:48 PM   #10
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Bellows are nice, I'd like one but haven't bothered to find one - you got good results with yours.

I bought my ring from B&H, cost was under $10. Mine has 52 threads on one end and 49 on the other - I had bought it to use with the old 50 and the macro, but I have a couple of other lenses that have 52 threads. It's about the same size as a step-up ring, but it had male threads on both sides.
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