Macro Photography: Bee + Flower

Macro photography is one of those corners of photography that I visit only occasionally – kind of like the furniture store.  Most of the time – the furniture we have is just fine.bee for blog-1

On this particular day – the flowers were out and bees were buzzing  – and as the afternoon kind of lazily drifted by – I grabbed the Kenko extension tubes, the 20D, and the 50mm f/1.8 intent on trying to get a bee picture.  Now honestly, I can’t remember which combination of tubes I had on the camera – as the set I purchased came with three tube extensions: 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm – and I could have used any combination of 1, 2, or all 3 tubes for this shot.

This image was taken handheld (bees are busy – and they’re simply not going to wait for me to set up a tripod).  Auto focus was turned off.  With the camera set to 5fps and (manual) focus roughly dialed in – fine focus was accomplished by moving my upper body back and forth as I held that shutter button down.  The rest of the details:  f/4 and 1/400 sec shutter.

Of this shoot – about a thousand images – I only really kept this one.

So, why extension tubes?  First, they’re really not that expensive (at least the Kenko’s – the Canon tubes are a bit more), no added glass (e.g. filters that magnify), and the investment in a dedicated lens just didn’t seem all that prudent – considering I only shoot macro about once or twice a year (for folks who shoot a lot of macro – a “macro” lens is likely a good investment – e.g. Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro).  The last method, coupling two lenses together via the filter threads (which puts one lens backwards) seems like fun – I just haven’t tried it yet.

If you’re thinking about macro photography – there are a lot of primers out there – but two quick thoughts to get you started:

  1. Start with non-moving objects.  It sure makes it easier to focus.
  2. Use that tripod.  This will allow you longer exposures for greater depth of field – and overall – crisper images.

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