Monday, 4 March 2013

From a different perspective

My camera is like an extension of me, I feel undressed if I don’t have my camera with me or near me. I bring it with me every day I go out in the garden and I take pictures practically every day. A lot of the pictures end up here on my blog, some are just for experimentation in Photoshop, some experiments end up nice enough to be displayed on my website and my newly opened online art gallery and some pictures are simply just scrapped. I take around 5000 pictures per year but I have taken considerably more in previous years.

I love all sorts of photography gadgets, it’s just a shame most of them cost a fortune! My camera is a Canon EOS 600D and I still haven’t been able to buy a second lens to it, I only have the lens that came with the camera and on my very long wish list for when I win the lottery there is a nice second lens and a very expensive macro lens. I was therefore very pleased when I discovered these macro close-up screw-on lenses at Amazon, a set of 4 different lenses for £11.24, with free postage. These lenses screw on to the end of the cameras lens and allow you to go much closer to your subject than what your camera normally would allow you. However, at £11.24 you probably understand that there is a price to pay? OK, number one is quality. The quality is nowhere near what you will get with a proper macro lens, but you would not expect that for £11.24, would you? And your subject tend to be a bit soft around the edges, not really a problem if you are photographing flowers, but it might be if you want to photograph something flat that is going to fill the whole image. I am not sure I could use these lenses for big poster enlargements, but for downscaled pictures on the web I think the quality is fine. The kit comes with 4 lenses at +1, +2, +4 and +10 magnification. I took the following series of pictures with the +10 lens today. The pictures will definitely look better if you click on them and get the full size!

Strawberry leaves, ready to burst out in the crisp sunshine.


Galanthus woronowii.


Primula vulgaris. I didn’t know they were so dirty until I got the pictures onto my computer!


Narcissi 'Falconet' – just about to open.


Sedum erythrosticum 'Frosty Morn' just emerging.


Crocus 'Golden Yellow'.


Using these screw on lenses means you have to make sure you take pictures in good light, the crisp sunshine I had in my garden today provided plentiful of that, and the sun also made all my close-up flowers sparkle. That’s something I have noticed before when taking pictures in bright sunshine, that the flowers sparkle. I wonder if perhaps all flowers sparkle in bright sunshine, it’s just I haven’t seen it yet? Perhaps a future project; take close-up photos of all the flowers in my garden in sunshine and see if they sparkle! Well, not today though, so I’ll leave you with one more Golden Yellow crocus, until next time, take care.


Crocus 'Golden Yellow'.


37 comments:

  1. Wow, good to know! Your macros are great!

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  2. Hi Helene.... this post really interests me. I also take many photos daily during gardening season... perhaps 1-2 hundred around dawn most days plus many more in the evening. I really don't know what I'm doing... I just know what I like, and through experimentation have gotten to the point where I'm able to at least please myself. I have a good Sigma lens 18-50 mm 1:2.8 EX Macro and it allows me to get quite close. I've really considered the dedicated macro lens but also hate to spend the money. One reason is that I hate using my tripod... I don't want to spend all that time setting up shots... did you use a tripod in these photos? They're pretty impressive and I'd like more specifics on your purchase if you'd wish to share them. I would consider trying them based on your experience. I do however, prefer to be able to dart about grabbing as many photos as possible and not take the time to use the tripod. Additionally macro is not something that I'd want to specialize in... although occasional macro captures do interest me. Thanks for any further info you are able to share... Larry

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    1. Hi Larry, I have looked into the lens you have, and it doesn’t seem to have an image stabiliser, am I right? My lens is called Canon EF-S Zoom Lens 18 -55 mm - f/3.5-5.6 IS II and it came with my camera. I can truly say having an image stabiliser is a new world to me! I now only use my tripod when I take video and in very low light, before I got this camera I used it all the time. The trouble with dragging a tripod around is that I haven’t got enough arms, as I also drag my stool around, and with camera and glasses etc (I need reading glasses to take pictures and long distance glasses to see where I am!) it is quite a lot to keep track of. I also find that a lot of the pictures I take are so low down on the ground anyway that my tripod can’t go that low. So the tripod is mainly for filming.

      I usually sit on my stool and take pictures, supporting my camera with my knees or my elbows, using the screen all the time, and not the viewfinder. I have a flexible screen, which is why I bought this particular camera, so I can sit down and take pictures in all directions by just turning the viewfinder towards me. I can even take pictures upside down whilst sitting comfortably on my stool. With the image stabiliser I have a lot more leverage, although you can of course get blurry pictures with and image stabiliser too!

      I am not sure you could successfully manage to take macro photos with the lenses I have bought without an image stabiliser unless you use a tripod – not unless you have a lot more steady hands than I have! You could possibly use the +1 and the +2, but I doubt you could use the +10 without support. But at £11.24 (and possibly cheaper in US) it would be an inexpensive experiment, compared to buying a proper macro lens, where you definitely would be tied to the tripod all the time. I’d say give it a go :-)

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  3. I use my small compact Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS3 for macro as it has a macro setting that believe it or not the more expensive cameras haven't got. We have a Panasonic FZ100 which is great for wide angle and telephoto and when we bought it I thought the small compact would be redundant but it isn't. I bought a screw on macro lens for it but I can't get to grips with it.

    I've found yellow flowers are quite difficult to pick up in focus when the sun is bright as the details inside tends to disappear. The shiny petals of flowers is one method of attracting pollinators as are all the stripes and spots inside the flowers.

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    1. I was also a bit baffled when I moved from my very good Canon Powershot to my current camera, and discovered how far from the object I actually had to be. With the DSLR cameras however you are meant to buy lenses for every different use, a hopeless task when they cost so much. I am looking into getting a zoom lens that starts where mine stops, a 55 – 250 mm, it cost £170, a lot of money for a lens, but that is a cheap lens!

      I like these little screw-on lenses, no intricate settings, no impact on the rest of the camera settings, just have to remember you need more light than you think.

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  4. Magnificent!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Thanks Lea, Have a great day you too!

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  5. Lovely pictures. I don't have an expensive camera but it does somethings, which I find is adequate. I find my phone is better at some macros especially if the light is poor.
    I too would need a lottery win for a really great expensive camera but then all the settings would probably be wasted on me!

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    1. I often use my photos for printing, and for that I need a lot more pixels than what pictures on the web require. That's why I moved up from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR, to get more pixels and better quality.

      Most low range DSLR, like what I have, can be used fully automatically, great in the beginning while you learn to use one function after the other. I used film camera manually for years, long before my first digital camera, so I am familiar with all the settings, although a lot of them are not quite the same on a digital camera as in the old days film cameras – even if they are called the same. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me to move to DSLR, and I got a lot more to learn!

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  6. I know what macrolense you are talking about. But I am thinking time after time. But for me it's to expensive because I am not a pro who has to use it for work. I did want a tripod too but I never use it I am to lazy I think (lol). You have beautiful pictures Helene and I would think twice to spend so much money on that lense. I keep on dream winning the lottery though and if I do I get you one.
    Have a wonderful evening Helene.

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    1. Thank you Marjke, I use my tripod mainly for filming my garden, I could not manage without it, but for photos I am OK without using a tripod most of the time. Let’s hope you win the Lottery then, and have a great evening you too!

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  7. Astonishing for £11.24! We're having some brilliant weather for test-driving those lenses too. You have a wonderful summer of photography stretching in front of you.

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    1. Thank you, I am hopefully going out tomorrow too, BBC weather has promised us 15 degrees Celsius tomorrow! Almost unbelievable considering we had 3-4 degrees only a few days ago.

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  8. Wow, you are a photographical genius, your pictures are really gorgeous. Since I am blogging I see so many beautiful pictures. I am just a gardener and like writing about it with some photos to illustrate, which I make with my simple digital Olympus camera. I am getting more and more interested in photography since I started blogging one year ago, but I don't know if I want to spend much money for a camera.

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    1. Oh, I am certainly no genius! I am self-taught in everything related to photography, as in most things I do, and I am just doing this by trial and error. But I have been taking pictures for 35 years, since I got my first camera when I was 13, so I have picked up a few things on the way.

      If you are interested in doing more with photography you might find that your camera could have more settings than you have been using. Time to dig out the manual that came with the camera and start reading. If you no longer have it you can find it on the Internet. There are cameras in all price classes, you certainly don’t need an expensive camera to take great pictures. If you have a look at this post I wrote last month: http://graphicality-uk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/dreaming-of-spring.html
      all the photos in this slideshow was taken with a 7Mp camera that cost less than £100 – my first digital camera.

      Before buying another camera I would start with the one you have and see what it possibly can do that you might not know, you never know, could surprise you!

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    2. Thank you Helene for your information. My camera had a "zoom error" this week, so I took it to the store to repair. I have to do without for about 4 weeks......, now I use my Ipad to make photos and yes, that is will do for a few weeks.

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  9. Your photographs are incredible! My camera is a low tech cheapie but it matches my skill level, so it's ok. some day I'll upgrade and you can give me some pointers! :o)

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    1. I would be delighted to :-)
      My best tip for anyone regarding cameras is always the same: Read the manual! Read it when you get the camera, read it when you have had the camera for a while and read it when you think you know everything; there are always new things to discover!

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  10. Hi Helene, these are really great pictures! It is amazing to me what this +10 screw-on macro lenses is able to do!
    If it weren't for the blogging I think I wouldn't be into photography at all. But for my blog I like to take decent pictures. Still, I haven't been getting into the technical details of photography yet, just do my standard thingy. I may try out your suggestion to get my manual out for my old camera and maybe start to play around a little bit, though :-)!
    Christina

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    1. That's great, you never know what you might discover :-)
      Also, there are lots of great tutorials on the net for photography, for the very beginner right through to the professional. I have always had an interest for photography, but never taken any courses or classes, I really wish I had done things like that while I still could, there are so much I wish to learn and I think it would be different learning in an environment with others rather than on my own at home. Still, lots to find out if you ask Google the right kind of questions!

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  11. Those pictures of the crocus are breathtaking!

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  12. Helene, this blogging thing has added photography to my previous singular hobby of gardening, well come to think of it I now have three hobbies. I am very impressed with what you have achieved with your inexpensive lenses and expanding the pictures is a must.. Thanks for your welcome observations on my Skimmia post.

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    1. Alistair, I have had a lot of hobbies over the years, I once dated a man for 2 years who was into WW2 aeroplanes, guess who stood on the side of the landing strip at Biggin Hill with her camera??
      Photography as a hobby can be applied alongside many different other hobbies and with digital cameras where it no longer cost anything to develop the pictures there is no reason not to go out and take lots of pictures. I am sure you enjoy your new hobbies, they complement each other.
      And as for the Skimmia, you’re welcome, glad to be of help, I so enjoy your posts about all the different shrubs.

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  13. What a great buy, so much better than spending hundreds on a big fancy lens. and the photos have wonderful, particularly like the crocus.

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    1. Thanks, I must admit if I had hundreds of pounds just lying around somewhere (as if!) I would happily spend them on a couple of lenses for my camera, but since that’s not the case, this was a surprisingly good alternative, at least for pictures used on the web. I think I will have to stick to what my normal lens can produce for print files.

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  14. Hi Helene
    I agree with Alistair: having a blog has made me a much more conscientious and enthusiastic photographer. And obviously, the same goes for you. But photography can become an expensive hobby, if you let it. I think you got a great deal with those 4 lenses from Amazon. They let you see what's possible with magnification. If you really get into close-ups, and want a macro lens, try a second-hand camera shop or even photography clubs. Maybe you can get someone's "cast-off" macro, as they buy a new one. You both win!! Keep those great photos coming.

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    1. Hi Astrid, I have bought second hand lenses before, to my old trusty Olympus film camera, which actually still works, but probably never will be used again...not when I have a DSLR :-)
      I might look into getting a second hand lens, problem is that I can't go anywhere to look at it before buying, so it means buying online, unseen and untested, a bit more risky so that's why I haven't gone down that route yet. So if anyone knows about a "cast-off" macro suitable for a Canon EOS 600D, please let me know!

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  15. I can't ever seem to take macro shots - I will have to check into these types of lenses for my camera. You got some great shots - love the last one with the pollen sprinkled on the petals.

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    1. Thanks Holley, macro photography is quite fun, but you'll need a stable surface to place your camera on or a tripod, unless you have image stabiliser on the lens. The lenses I have presented are for DSLR cameras.

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  16. These lenses sound great and the photos turned out really well. I have that problem with dirt on flowers a lot, either that or a tag in the background.

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, yes sometimes I feel like giving my plants a good wash, but I often don't discover how dirty they really are until I see them enlarged on my computer screen - which is a bit late!

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  17. Helene, you're lucky: great shot with new macro lens. I love the Primula vulgaris, lovely photo!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, there will be more macro shots in next post :-)

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  18. The strawberry leaves are amazing. Who would have thought that they look like that? That's a good deal but yes of course the quality will be not like the lenses for which we have to pay lofty amounts. I have a Nikon SLR but I can't afford to buy any lenses. However, here are lots of photography stores which allow you to rent lenses at quite a reasonable price. Perhaps you can try to find such stores in London.

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    1. Thanks KL, I haven't heard about renting photo equipment before, long term renting, of anything, tend to be very expensive here in Britain and usually much more expensive than buying it outright.
      I think a second hand lens is my best bet, although after looking into that, they do cost a fair bit too!

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