CHAL­LENGE 2: Auto Ex­ten­sion tubes

Digital SLR Photography - - The Photo Workshop -

With the for­mal gar­den now fill­ing up with visi­tors, we de­cided to walk fur ther into the gar­den to es­cape the hoards. With the close- up fil­ter packed away, we be­gin search­ing for new and var­ied sub­jects. We de­cided to take a closer look at a blos­som­ing mag­no­lia tree. The large pink flow­ers looked beau­ti­ful, but again an un­aided stan­dard lens couldn’t do the sub­ject jus­tice. How­ever, with 20mm of ex­ten­sion at­tached, Ian could achieve the lev­els of mag­ni­fi­ca­tion he de­sired. For the chal­lenge, we had a set of Kenko auto ex­ten­sion tubes at our dis­posal . You can buy a set of 36mm, 20mm and 1 2mm tubes, for around £ 100. The more ex­ten­sion you use, the greater the level of mag­ni­fi­ca­tion you will achieve. How­ever, for a larger flower like this, the medium tube suf­ficed. Again, this is a close- up at­tach­ment that doesn’t pro­vide a large sub­ject- to- cam­era dis­tance, so Ian had to get within 10- 20cm of his sub­ject to record a frame- fill­ing re­sult. Al­though this can re­strict light, with inan­i­mate sub­jects like flow­ers, it is not a huge draw­back. While Ian worked hand- held, I en­cour­aged him to in­crease his ISO rat­ing to help main­tain a work­able fast shut­ter speed. Ian snapped away, var ying his shoot­ing an­gle and per­spec­tive. He com­mented on how even the tini­est ad­just­ment can make such a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to the shot when you work in close- up – even a few mil­lime­tres of move­ment this way or that can com­pletely make or break your com­po­si­tion.

Next, Ian no­ticed some lovely de­tail on the leaf of a tree. We held the branch steadily in place us­ing a clamp at­tached to my tri­pod legs. Ian care­fully placed his cam­era, this time us­ing a tri­pod and po­si­tion­ing his cam­era par­al­lel to the leaf to keep as much of the sub­ject as pos­si­ble within the lens’s plane of fo­cus for over­all sharp­ness. Again, fo­cus­ing was achieved via Live­view, and ad­justed man­u­ally, rather than us­ing aut­o­fo­cus, which can prove un­re­li­able when work­ing at higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. How­ever, with the light be­ing so flat, results looked rather life­less and lacked vi­brancy. I de­cided to in­tro­duce Ian to the cre­ative pos­si­bil­i­ties of us­ing ar ti­fi­cial light. With small gar­den sub­jects it is rel­a­tively easy to al­ter or ma­nip­u­late light us­ing flash or LED units. I ex­plained to Ian that I t yp­i­cally favour re­flected or LED light­ing, as you can eas­ily pre­view and reg­u­late their ef­fect be­fore trig­ger­ing the shut­ter. I hand- held a small LED light be­hind the leaf in or­der to cre­ate back­light­ing – the light com­pletely trans­formed the scene, mak­ing the im­age far more strik­ing and colour ful . Ian ad­mit­ted that pho­tograph­ing such an or­di­nar y ob­ject in a cre­ative way opened his eyes to what could be achieved with min­i­mal time, ef­for t and cost.

Time for a quick slice of cho­co­late cake in the gar­den tea­rooms, be­fore swap­ping Ian’s stan­dard 50mm for a ded­i­cated macro as we em­bark on the fi­nal chal­lenge.

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4 1) Ian takes the shot while ad­ding a lit­tle ar­ti­fi­cial light. 2) The ex­ten­sion tubes sit be­tween cam­era body and lens. 3) With var­i­ous lengths of ex­ten­sion tube avail­able, we set­tled on the 20mm medium length for the task at hand. 4) Back­light­ing highlights the leaf's veiny struc­ture. 5) For pin- point fo­cus­ing ac­cu­racy, Ian fo­cuses man­u­ally us­ing the Live­view's zoom.

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