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The Unobtainable

The limits of photography are always being move forward. In the days of film these advances were very small – today digital technology moves forwards faster and this can be seen in the story below.

Late one evening our hound wandered up the backyard and by chance my eye was drawn to a bird flying to a rest in a tree nearby – illuminated from the indirect light of a flood lamp 20 meters away. Around here a bird flying at night can only be an owl and with a quick trip inside I grabbed the first torch I could see – a cheap LED unit – and went back out. There it was perched in a tree – surely it would be gone by the time I’d gone back in and got a camera and lens…

So armed with a 5Dmk3 and a 400mm f2.8 IS I had the best chance technology could just about give me…

ISO:           25000
Aperture:  f/2.8
Shutter:     1/6 sec
Lighting:   cheap LED torch

…and to add a bit more of a degree of difficulty didn’t have time for a tripod or any other support…


Now I can’t say technology is perfect since the image below shows the difficulty the camera and I had in focussing in such low light – about 20 missed shots. But the one at the end is something that 30 years ago would have been utterly unobtainable.




There is some biological versus climate thing in the hills that delays the onset of the winter for just a few weeks more than places down in the city. This gives the photographer a quick last chance to spend a few hours roaming the places near home, with camera in hand, to observe the passing of the season.





At some point the last leaf will fall and winter will arrive but it won’t be a time for hibernation just a time to refresh and think of other different things. I look forward to that time.





The South of France

I think it would be a common assumption, that as you go towards the equator, the weather will get a little more comfortable in a French February.  The more accurate observation is that the Pyrenees range and its high peaks with villages and snow capped mountains will surprise.










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Get Closer

Some things in this world can be done in strangely different ways – macro work is one such thing. There are various ways to get more subject magnification with macro photography these include:- different lenses, extension tubes and macro filters.

A macro filter is a simple convex lens that, like spectacles for those with long vision, allows you to move the lens closer to the subject. The problem is that these types of screw on lenses tend to be of a simple design which keeps cost low but provides less than optimal image quality. What we really need is a good quality macro filter with coated optics and kick ass quality – this is where the unnatural stuff happens.

Some years ago someone realised that a second camera lens could do a great job of getting that extra magnification. The easiest way to mount the lenses to each other is to reverse the second lens and use an adaptor to go front to front or stacked (not to be confused with the macro technique of focus stacking) as it’s known.

The adaptor rings fit the filter threads on each lens usually of lenses of similar size. In the shot below you can see a 50mm f/1.4 attached via the adaptor ring onto the front of the 100mm f/2.8 macro.


The trick is finding an adaptor ring here in Australia – perhaps they exist but they are rare as hens’ teeth. Some people use two cheap filters and remove the glass and then glue them together. This works but I somehow wouldn’t trust glue to keep a delicate 50mm lens from falling off. I found using two Cokin P-series adaptor rings you can make a flexible adaptor ring.


As can be seen the adaptors are joined back to with three small screws drilled in the metal towards the edge. If I decide to use a different lens then all I do is unscrew the halves and fit the appropriately sized adaptor ring. The cost of the generic adaptors used were around $8 each – approx $20 for some serious macro fun – bargain!

The adaptor rings fit the filter threads on each lens usually of lenses of similar size. In the shot below you can see a 50mm f/1.4 attached via the adaptor ring onto the front of the 100mm f/2.8 macro.

To give you an idea of what you can get, the two images below show a 100mm macro alone at maximum magnification (on a Canon 5D both shot at f/11) and using the stacked 50 f/1.4 at maximum magnification. As can bee seen from the first image above the focus distance is very close – this results in half of the battery below being in shadow. As you see at f/11 depth of field is razor thin.


The shorter the focal length of the front lens the greater the magnification and the closer you have to put your object of choice. A 28mm for example approximately doubles magnification over using a 50mm. Some combinations of lenses may vignette – especially on a full frame body. Given the huge magnification it’s a method best used indoors on a tripod.

Un-natural stuff like stacking lenses isn’t for everyone but for about $20 it could be worth giving it a go just for the fun of doing something new and different.

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