Newbie Macro experiments

(Hector) #1

Hello everyone, I’m somewhat of a newbie to photography in general, but I really enjoy macro photography. I don’t really own a proper macro lens (although buying a decent one is definitely on my to-do list), so the images you see below are either shot with a cheap macro filter, or with a microscope objective attached directly to the camera by means of an adapter. So some of the softness/chromatic aberration you see is inevitable.
On the ones shot with a microscope objective specially, I’ve been trying my hand at focus stacking, with mixed results, so any tips/advice on how to solve some of the ghosting, and bright halos that show would be really appreciated.
Also I often make the newbie mistake of going over the top with the amount of post-processing I apply, so I welcome any advice on how to make things look more natural/appealing as well as any advice on composition, lighting, etc.

(Mica) #2

I’d say pay careful attention to your framing. You’re clipping the top and bottom of your images in the same way almost every time. It works for some but not for others.

Also it looks line you’ve got a very film like color pallette, which is not my taste, but that is very subjective.

(Andrew) #3

Nice photos. Another lens solution is to use a standard lens (say) but reversed with extension tubes, i.e. the rear element near the subject. In days gone by with 42mm threaded gear, it was quite cheap to get the tubes and an adapter. The latter screws into the lens filter threads. How feasible this is nowadays is another matter I guess!


@dubi Welcome to the forum!

Though I agree with @paperdigits that some variety would be nice, I really enjoy the look and style of your images; they have a lot of character and are quite unique. I would say that the first image is the weaker one as it doesn’t have as strong a focal point as the others.

Perhaps if you shared the specific equipment and apps you used, we would be able to give further and better advice. Thanks for sharing!


The “dryflowerbuds” has little structure. Others are fine. I got a lot of mileage in the past with a Raynox close-up lens on a bridge camera, and later with slightly better CLLs on my Canon 55-250. For not much money you can also get extension tubes, but don’t get the really cheap ones, they may have too much play and alter the lens alignment.

However, when you shoot man-made objects, they must be squeaky clean (if possible new) because all the little bits of fiber/dirt are distracting (when not utterly gross, as I discovered in my own photos).

(Pat David) #6

Women that orange microfiber. :slight_smile:

How’d you light the razor image?

(Morgan Hardwood) #7


Some of the best macro shots I’ve seen were taken using a microscope lens, so your having such a lens is something to be rejoiced! The optical quality and light in your shots is great. Get your focus-stacking workflow in order and then there’s no technical obstacle in your path to great macro photos.

It would be good to know which shots were taken using the microscope lens, and also how they were lit, the cloth and razor photos specifically.

(Hector) #8

Everyone, thanks for your feedback! :smile:

@paperdigits: In some of the images I’m clipping to get rid of some nasty artifacts from the focus stacking, but in some others it is completely unnecessary, I need to be more careful about that.
I tend to abuse some of the Rawtherapee profiles as well as the film emulation presets from GMIC, so that explains the filmic look and the lack of variety, I’m trying to steer away from that nowadays, and aim for a more natural look.

@afre: I’m shooting with a Canon SL1, the first 3 photos I think were shot with a macro filter on top of the standard kit lens, the last 3 were shot with the microscope objective (this is an old Kyowa 4x objective I got from my dad long ago). For the microscope images, I use a macro rail to shoot stacks of around 50 images.
I normally start in Rawtherapee, apply some minor adjustments to the image, get the exposure, shadows, etc. looking good, then export tiffs so I can align the images (I don’t know if you could align RAWs or exrs in Hugin, but it takes so long with tiffs already I haven’t really bothered to try).
For focus stacking I’m using Hugin to align the images combined with enfuse on the command line. I’m basically just following @patdavid’s Focus stacking tutorial from his blog. Getting a good alignment is the most painful part of it (I bought the macro rail because it was almost impossible to get a decent alignment otherwise), but even then I’m struggling a lot with it.
Once I get the final image from enfuse, I bring it to gimp, apply some sharpening with GMIC and basically just start experimenting with it until I find something I like.

@patdavid: For lighting I’m using a setup I made for photogrammetry. It’s basically just a bunch of rows of bright LED strips on a carboard with a some sanded acetate on top to act as a diffuser. It works well for photogrammetry because it gives really diffuse light coming from all directions. For shooting macro though it’s not that versatile, and the LEDs have a blueish tint which is not ideal.

@Morgan_Hardwood: Yeah I really like shooting with the microscope lens! The only usable images I’ve been able to get out are with the 4x objective, but I’ve tried using a 10x and 48x objective, and you can see some amazing things, I just need to find the proper setup and take the care and precision to shoot them properly.
The first 3 photos I think were shot with a macro filter on top of the standard kit lens, the last 3 were shot with the 4x microscope objective, they were all lit using the same setup I describe above.