On Closer Inspection

On closer inspection

Last week Thomas Hawk blogged about the Poor Man’s Macro technique that he read about in a JPG Magazine article back in February. Basically, if you don’t have a real macro lens you can take a standard lens, flip it around, and hold it in front of the camera to get a macro effect. Well, after a cursory read of Thomas’ post I gave the technique a try. My first few attempts did not work, at all. Then I finally figured it out, and came up with this shot. It’s the passenger side rear view mirror on my car.

I used my 18-55mm lens set at around 50mm to take this picture. I first set the exposure with the lens on the camera, then took it off and shot through it backwards. Because the lens is off the camera, the aperture is open all the way so I could only control the shutter speed. Fortunately with digital SLRs, you can see the shot immediately and figure out the right shutter speed. Metering with the lens on at the widest aperture gets you pretty close, but I had to change the shutter speed to get this shot.

The technique requires a steady hand and lot of experimentation. I tried several shots of some outdoor plants, but had a really hard time because the breeze kept blowing my subject around. With the Poor Man’s Macro, the focal range is extremely small, so the slightest movement can blur the entire image. I left the focus on the lens set and moved back and forth while looking through the viewfinder to get the shot. I suppose you could try and stay still while adjusting the focus ring, but I think that would be too hard. It’s also a little tricky holding the lens in exactly the right position to get the shot.

Also, the technique is not without risk. The JPG magazine article explains how to set it up with a two lenses, which is probably a better way to go. By taking the lens off your camera you expose it to dust. I have an inexpensive Digital SLR that is worth less than most lenses at this point, so I figured the risk was minimal. But I would recommend the two lens solution if you can manage it. I don’t like taking the lens of my camera, so I was little nervous while shooting. But the effect is so cool, I couldn’t resist.

definitely going to continue to experiment with this technique under better conditions and with different focal lengths. It was fun to try something new, and I like the results. Here’s another shot I took:

Ideally I would like to get a real macro lens because I love macro photography, but I might try to set up a two-lens Poor Man’s Macro system. I’d like to see how those photos vary from how I took this shot, and how it varies from using a real macro lens.

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