Thursday, April 23, 2009

Making use of an old flash bracket

Hi there!

just some updates:
first, i have surpassed 1000 visitors to my gallery page! :D :D :D if i had have known who was the 1000th visitor, you may have got a prize...
second, i built something cool out of an old flash bracket for macro photos!

i got the brilliant idea from the macro guru over at DGRIN, Lord Vetinari!

basically, you take your flash bracket, buy a cheap ball head at your local camera shop, and get some 1/4" bolts. then, i had to drill a hole in the top of the flash bracket to put the bolt through, i then attached the cheapo ball head to the top of the bracket. my sb-600 came with a tripod hookup, so i attached that to the top of the ballhead, then attached the flash to that, allowing me to swivel the flash around and point it in front of the lens! this cost me about $25 to do. my flash brackets handle got in the way of the bolts a bit, so i had to do some 'dremeling' of the plastic to make it fit, but it worked out wonderfully!

please forgive the quality of the images, i whipped them up in a few minutes just to show off the rig :)

i will post some test shots that i took with this beast after the weekend, i am working for the next 3 days so i wont be doing much shooting! but the weather is turning out for the better, so i will be able to find some bugs soon! *fingers crossed*

stay tuned!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Nikon BR-2A Macro Reversing Ring

okay! i got an exciting thing in the mail the other day!
a nikon br-2a macro reversing ring!

for those that have not heard of this, it is a metal ring with a 'f mount' connector on one side, and a 52mm filter thread on the other. this allows you to reverse mount a lens onto the camera, effectively turning any lens into a macro lens, capable of 1:1 magnification. they suggest using a normal lens 50mm or so, a prime lens is ideal, also if it has an aperture ring, it makes life a lot easier.

i ordered from ebay, and it arrived from hong kong really fast! i had read online about ways to make one, involving an old uv filter, a lens body cap, epoxy, a dremel tool etc etc. i did not have the motivation to do this, and i wanted something a bit sturdier.

the br-2a is all metal and nice and chrome looking :) it was a little stiff to put on at first, but with a little coaxing it got on there. once you mount it on the body, then you just thread your lens on it like you would a normal filter.

here it is! nice and shiny

nikon lens cap and br-2a

A shot with my 50mm reversed on the camera!

first impressions:
-very fun! i went around my house taking pictures of light switch screws, peeling paint, nick knacks, and other random stuff. there is a ton of different subjects that open up to you when you can shoot like this.

-lighting is a bit of a problem. when the lens is mounted like this, metering doesnt work, and the flash needs to be set manually. after some playing around, i was able to get the best results with the lens aperture set at f/8 and the on board flash at 1/16 power. any smaller aperture and it gets hard to see the image in the viewfinder, and depending on the image you desire to take, you can go larger on the aperture, but DOF is super shallow as it is, and you may end up grossly overexposing the shot! but the fun thing about it is experimenting :) i did mess around with my sb-600 off camera, but it was really hard to hold the flash and stay steady with the camera. so until i can modify my flash bracket, thats a no go! luckily the on board flash is suitable for the time being (albeit a little flat)

-focusing takes a bit to get used to! seeing as i never used a proper macro lens before, it took a bit to get the hang of focusing with this shallow of a depth of field. basically you set the lens at infinity, then move the camera back and forth to focus. once you do it a couple of times its all good. as i mentioned earlier the DOF is so shallow, even breathing can put you out of focus. i am going to play around with mirror lock up and using my cable release once i get the flash bracket done up.

all in all, i am loving this little gizmo. i could go around my house all day finding wierd and wonderful little things to shoot. and its a blast to look at the details you can capture once you view the pics on the monitor!

for post processing these images, usually i will bump up the clarity, then sharpen in photoshop.

here are some test shots. these were taken the first day i got it, and i had no regard for composition, lighting, subject etc. these are straight out of the camera, only resized in lightroom:

final impressions:
-neat little thing to have in your camera bag! very cheap alternative to a true macro lens. but with that being said, if you are serious about macro photography, i would recommend spending the money for a true macro lens. for insects and living critters, with a reversed lens, you need to be really close to focus, this could scare them away. for flowers and still life subjects, this is an okay setup, but still, metering and ttl flash support is pretty handy, and you just dont have it with this.
all in all, i like the extra versatility this gives me, and it will for sure tide me over until i get my nikon 105mm VR (!). i have plans for that lens when i get it as well :) i am looking to get a full set of extension tubes, then use the 105mm vr, then reverse the 50mm on the end of that! it should be crazy :D

well, i hope you enjoyed my little review! and here is one final shot i took yesterday of a sluggish housefly on my windowsill. i converted it to HDR because i thought it was a little bland in its original state (which you can see here)

an ugly housefly

take care everyone!!