Thursday, November 21, 2013


That was some amount of rains that we received this week! It's just amazing, but sad in the same time because I couldn't do much with it. I'm not driving my car, and didn't do any photography in such weather (and it would be better to have weather-proof protection stuff). My car was supposed to get fixed this week as the garage called me and said the chip they need arrived from outside and needed my permission and my agreement for the price to work on. According to them, they said 1 or 2 days will suffice. But with such rains, I didn't get any calls yet. Probably the rains are the reason for this. I can't believe I will see this car again. I'm growing sick driving other cars.

Macro Plus
I've been continuing my work with trials to do macro shots (or extra macro I should say). The work wasn't much of a success in fact for many factors. It made re-think my approach to do the whole thing really.

The System!
Click to Enlarge
As you can see on the left, the system is truly cumbersome. Long set of lenses and extensions, portable monitor, (shaky) tripod and lateral arm, with weights (dumbbell weights) added inside a sack to keep the arm and tripod balanced. I didn't make a glass surface for the macro experiments but I've been using the glass door that fell from the cabinet (the one in the picture). Sorry about the image quality as the image was taken with my mobile. I kind of suck at such images!
For the purpose of lighting I've bought two somewhat powerful LED torches or flashlights that got about 24 LEDs on one surface, plus 3 or 4 on the side in case a narrow beam is required. I think I might need to add a mirror.


One of the shots done with the system shown above is a shot for the surface of a small leaf. As you can see above, the image is out of focus. Focusing is one of the big issues here and this is why such system as the one above is a cumbersome technique. According to some websites (they are a lot you just have to Google around) the magnification factor can be found by: Focal Length (1) / Focal Length (2), that is, the ratio of the focal lengths of the two reversed lenses, where (1) is for the lens attached to the camera, and (2) is for the reversed lens.
Hence, it is logical to attach the longest focal length possible to the camera, and the smallest focal length possible in reverse. I think I will use the notation "FL1/FL2" when it comes to image descriptions later. In my case, the largest focal length I could achieve is using the (broken) Tamron lens at 300mm plus two teleconverters, yielding 1200mm in total. The smallest focal length that can be attached in reverse is 18mm (with my old 18-55mm), and the result would be 1200mm/18mm, equals to 66.66X or approximately 67X! Meaning an object would be magnified 67 times its original size! Unfortunately, this was just a theory and in practice, working with such tools isn't plausible at all and can hardly do any good. Thus, I've neglected this approach for the time being and started to do it in other ways, like using the Canon EF 100mm macro lens in reverse with the 50mm lens.

Shaving Razor

Onion Peel
One of the issues that I was investigating is the placement of the teleconverters and the extension tube before the first lens (or the primary lens, attached to the camera). In some websites, they emphasize the placement of the extension tubes in between the converters and the lens. However, practically, seems the situation is the same in terms of magnification power, but probably it works better with the teleconverters attached in between the tubes and the lens. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it worked that way with me anyway, as most of the images here like the Shaving Razor and Onion Peel were all taken with such configuration. Later on, however, I started to use that system without reversing the lens, but simply using the 100mm macro lens with extension tubes and teleconverters.
The light direction was drastic for some shots, specially for translucent objects. Again, No lens reversing this time but I did have hard time focusing. The shake took its toll on the shoot.


The leaf shot above is taken once with LED lights below the glass plate, and once on the sides of the leaf. One of the somewhat awkward features for using LED lighting is the bluish streak. The Automatic WB setting wasn't enough to correct the colors but it was (somehow) corrected in post-processing. Anyway, it is obvious that the look changes drastically with the change of light direction, like if it s a 3D object. Personally, I do prefer the lighting on the sides. However, this might not possible all the time, as the set of lenses can get to the subject so close that leaves no room for the light on the sides, the lighting from below is the only solution.

Canon EF 50mm+36mm extension tube,
f/22, 40-1sec, ISO400.
Source: B&H
Along with it, I've decided to do some test for the RoundFlash. This time, it's not an extra macro shot but a simple one with my 50mm and 36mm tube. This simple trial did indeed show me how the length of the lens (not the focal length but the physical length) and the closest focusing distance do play a role when using this flash add-on. I think the optimal use would be for a lens that does not protrude much outside the limits of the RoundFlash and if the subject is considerably far from the RoundFlash to allow the light to fill it properly. Here with my beard experiment, the distance was so close (and literally part of my chin was inside the RoundFlash!) because of the extension tube, and that caused a bit of smooth light and shadows (but with the help of relatively high ISO as well). The RoundFlash seems promising but I'm sure it's not a complete replacement for the typical ring flash, and for that I did place several items in my B&H wishlist which are both, expensive and cheap.

With this work with some macro ventures, I've somehow formulated some ideas and thoughts that might lead my work in the future:
  • Practically, using extension tubes alone is enough to get a magnified and well viewed image. I think I was obsessed with the idea of turning my camera and lenses into a microscope and I didn't look at the validity of such practice and how it would reflect on my artistic side.
  • I've been using a remote cable with a delay, plus the 10sec timer in the camera itself, and yet seems the images do have a shake. Probably it is because of the mirror (even though I do use the LiveView mode to hold the mirror), and the mirror lock-up mode doesn't work with the remote cable and Bulb mode (as some of these exposures took a minute to achieve). There must be a way to reduce this shake at least if not stop it.#
  • Because touching the system with so much lenses together does produce a horrendous shake on the macro level, probably it is better to move the plate or the surface and keep the system stable as much as possible; and this is exactly how a microscope works! This, however, requires some mechanism work!
  • I do own an old microscope. Is it possible to implement that system into my camera and lenses? It is easy to talk about afocal system when it comes to astrophotography or bird watching; but on a macro level? I'm not sure if this is even possible.
  • Aesthetically: what do I want? It is obvious in such field, most of the shots would be scientific-like or simply abstract. Now if it is an abstract, arranging the lines and the edges of the frame is of a prime importance. The possibility of such arrangement, though, is yet to be questioned and experienced practically.
These are some of my thoughts so far about macro (or extreme macro) shooting, and more work has to be done soon and yet I have to discover some good subjects to shoot at!

Among the other things that I try to do to keep me busy, there are some photos that I've decided to turn into something else. simply by converting them to B&W. Probably I was looking for some venting for my feelings specially that most of these images are those taken while traveling. I guess it is a case of nostalgia, for some days that can't be repeated, not in the meantime at least, to say.

Ghostly Room (B&W)
The Victorian B&B, Staten Island, NYC.

Thornbrook House B&B (Re-Visited)
Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.

Re-visiting old photos and converting them into B&W can be fruitful in a new set of images, specially in a time where my activities are hitting low. However, the trend is always to convert color images to B&W (for various reasons and not merely just to change the feel), but would there be a trend of changing B&W photos into colored ones? I'm not talking about the technique of coloring the old photos and movies, like those documentaries done for WWI and WWII, but I'm talking about digital photography and RAW files. I remember one time I've created 2 albums for a set of photos from Ireland, in which one was colored and the other was B&W for the same set of images, but probably I've done that without thinking deeply into that matter back then. Initially, what I think, is that coloring that B&W images adds almost nothing, since the B&W gains strength in its composition in the first place, and in the tonalities involved second. The introduction of colors into images that are already strong and fine-looking in B&W seems to be breaking the harmony and should be avoided, unless there is some good reason to do this! Generally speaking though, the B&W style seems to be the proper representation for nostalgia after all.

This project has been on hold for weeks. Anyway, I've started to work a bit more right now and I've almost finished the set of leading parts of the syllables. What's required now is to polish this set, and try more grammar and more sentences. Initially, the order is supposedly to be S.O.V., mimicking the Turkish grammar. On the other hand, there are still some details that should be worked out. I have to check how to make a simple introductory page for Geltani to represented on Omniglot, in case it is to be accepted. Moreover, the syllables to write foreign words and names into Geltani has to be checked out again since it seems that I've made up some mistakes before.

Currently, it seems that I'm under pressure to do the most I can do with my camera, just before my eyes get bitter sooner or later. Next Monday will be the day of my appointment to do some tests. I'm still waiting for my car as I see some hope that it will be fixed soon according to the garage's statement. All this time, they were waiting for the spare part to be delivered from outside, as it is cheaper than the local vendor. As soon as I get MY car, I have to plan for a trip to Failaka island. Such weather is not to be missed on the island!

Source: Amazon
I've mentioned before that doing a panorama with my new IR gel filter is on the list of things to be done. However, this can't be done right now easily after the wave of rains that we received this week, and needless to say that I do need some "nice" location, to say the least. Yes, I can do it at home, but I'm bored of this place already. On the other hand, I'm planning to put Allison Earnest's book into practice by implementing her ideas and methodology. The book is quite good and systematic in its approach. Probably it doesn't give much details concerning calculations and evaluations of light levels, but it does provide great deal about sculpting light and how to approach a project. My work though would be using my two speedlites with some of the light modifiers I have already. The difference is, with studio lights, you can use modeling light to properly position the light and check the expected shadows location before the actual shot is taken. However, with speedlites, the modeling is limited to the pilot button which casts a fast light strike into the scene. Thus, understanding the power of the speedlite is critical. I guess I will be starting with simple objects around the house.
Finally, this leaves me with my own self at the end. With all these projects in my mind and these trials to push myself to be active by force, all seems but just a trial to escape from my own feelings about life and my own self. I think I'm in a status where I'm not sure if I should embrace loneliness, or curse it. Even a loveless marriage didn't work out with me to leave this house. It does sound more like being in a jail rather than a home. Even a prisoner might have someone to talk to, to share thoughts with,  to have hopes with - yet, I don't see this coming my way at all. It's simply a dead heart walking...

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