Microcosm

Microcosm

Ah, back to the classic setup of shooting with a 50mm lens and a set of close-up filters! I posted a ton of photos with this combination in recent years but since getting my X100F I haven’t thought about the good old close-up filters much, so when I awoke to a rainy morning in late April I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get them back out and take some pictures. And my oh my, was I ever reminded of how much I like doing macro-style shots.

One thing I’ve learned from working with close-up filters is that virtually any subject can make for a compelling picture, even bits of flotsam and jetsam you might have on your desk as you read this post. Look close enough at almost anything around you and you’ll start to see intricacies, patterns, and small details that transform the mundane into something magical. Combine that with a bit of precipitation and you’re good to go, which is exactly what happened for this week’s image.

This picture didn’t require anything special in the way of gear, but it did necessitate a bit of planning in order to get it right. I waited until the rain had abated somewhat so as not to drench my D7100 (I know it’s got some weather sealing but I’m still probably a bit too careful with it) and then found a tree with some water drops hanging off at various spots. This particular one was interesting because the bud right above the drop added just the right touch of color, and also because the reflection in the drop was pretty cool to look at :) I believe I kept my lens at f/8 to get a wider depth of field and, if memory serves me correctly (which it often doesn’t!) I think I shot this with my +4 filter though a +10 would have been interesting too. I focused manually because relying on electronic focus with shots like this is so tricky and often unreliable, and bracketed my shots in the hope of getting at least one that turned out OK.

I know I’ve been talking about the X100F a lot recently but taking this photo reminded me how much I enjoy doing this type of photography and helped me realize, yet again, that there is no such thing as the perfect camera. It’s all about what works for you, and what helps you get the shots you want on any given occasion. Maybe it’s a big DSLR, maybe it’s a point-and-shoot, and maybe it’s your cell phone. If it works, then go for it.

Comments

  1. narendra bansal says:

    Another magical image by you Simon by using close up filter. I wonder if you took this photo hand held or on a tripod? There are pros and cons w/ either approach. However, I find hand held macro/close up very difficult for a decent image. Thank you.

    • I used handheld and took a series of shots in rapid succession in order to make sure one was in focus. I also used auto-ISO and set a minimum shutter speed of…I’m guessing 1/125 second but I don’t remember.

  2. Janet Richardson says:

    I am also curious whether hand-held or tripod. I have tried more times than I can count to work with close-up filters and nothing ever looks quite right. Your close-up images are startling good using just filters.

    • narendra bansal says:

      I also have been frustrated with hand held outdoor close up photography, especially with manual focus. Have to try indoors under controlled Condi.

      • I have found that manual focus works well for me, but what I do is intentionally focus a bit too far and then take a series of shots while focusing closer. It usually results in at least one usable image somewhere in the middle :)

    • Thank you Janet! I’ve never used an actual macro lens so filters are the only way I’ve ever experienced close-up photography. A +4 filter and f/4 to f/8 aperture is my go-to setup, and if I’m using a +10 filter I like to use f/8 or smaller since the depth of field is so shallow!

  3. “There was a whole other realm captured in that bubble,” Simon says. “Almost a gateway into an Alternative Reality!”

  4. narendra bansal says:

    I also have been frustrated with hand held outdoor close up photography, especially with manual focus. Have to try indoors under controlled Condi.

  5. RoSeTta says:

    Magical nature capture Simon. I love it. Recently purchased a set of close-up filters for my nifty fifty which I rarely use. You inspired me to play with it and since I love macro, I am excited about my new challenge. Thank you. In good health.

    • Glad to hear it! You might try putting a +4 filter on and shooting familiar objects in your house during bright parts of the day. Especially the kitchen! It’s amazing what you can see right in your very own home if you look a little closer :)

      • RoSeTta says:

        Thank you so much for the tip. I will definitely give it a go. In good health. RoSeTta. PS It’s funny but I have had my Nifty Fifty for many years and hardly used it. Here’s my opportunity. Thanks again.:)

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