Risking all on a Moth! Macro Close Ups

Now this was just stupid.  Look at what I risked to take a dopey picture of a moth.  Over six grand in equipment is teetering on a couple of lawn chairs and for what?   This macro picture of a common, boring moth won’t win any awards but I’ll tell you what, doing this was sure fun!  And I guess that is what this hobby is all about.

Use an Extension Tube for Close-ups

I don’t own a macro lens for close up shots, but I purchased some extension tubes that pretty much will allow your zoom lens do the same thing.  An extension tube mounts between your lens and camera body and simply moves your lens farther away from the sensor.  This allows you to move your camera way closer to your subject and still focus properly.  The cost, however, is that you cannot focus at infinity so you are pretty much committed to macro photography with one of these tubes in place.

I didn’t document which extension tube I used here but I do own both Canon tubes, the EF 25 II and EF 12 II tubes, and did use one of them for these shots.  Most likely I used the thicker 25 tube here with my Canon 70-200 L f/2.8 IS zoom.  Extension tubes are great because they cost way less than a good macro lens and contain no glass that can degrade your image. 

For macro focusing, you really have to turn off auto focus and do it manually because the narrow depth of field you will have makes focusing a challenge.   When you are up so close like this, your depth of field, what is in focus in front and behind your focus point, is really thin.  It is easy to have parts of your subject super sharp and the rest totally fuzzed out of focus.  So I recommend stopping down your aperture if you have the light, as this will increase your depth of field, and then snap a bunch of shots and constantly refocus them.  If you snap enough, some will be great.

I also put my Canon 5D Mk II into live view to help with focusing and then put on a two second shutter delay on top of that to minimize any shake. 

You may notice I am using a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod that I absolutely love and their 222 Joystick Head is mounted on top.  I have always used some form of pistol grip head and like them over regular ball heads as I find them easy to use and aim.  This Manfrotto head is a bit too heavy and takes a strong squeeze to use but works very well.  This crazy setup with the lawn chairs was really rickety and that is why I have a towel over the camera to try and add some weight and dampen the jiggles.

The Equipment:

Location Types: Backyard. Galleries: Bugs and Critters. Tags: 5D Mk II, 70-200mm 2.8, Extension Tube, and Manfrotto Tripod & Head.

2 Responses to “Risking all on a Moth! Macro Close Ups”

  1. andrea December 5, 2012 7:49 am #

    hi bruce! another fabulous post! i would like to try this lawn chair set up sometime, and i have a question… was the towel that you put on the camera wet or moist at all? i want to make sure that i dampen any jiggles, and your post doesn’t say if the towel was wet or not. also, can i use a beach towel instead of hand towel? merry xmas to you and yours! cheers, andrea

    • The Intrepid Amateur December 5, 2012 8:34 am #

      Hi Andrea,
      Thanx for the compliment. Regarding the towel, most pros recommend a slightly moist towel, however I go dry. Dampening a towel does indeed improve its ability to dampen jiggles, but you have to get the moisture content just right and I am still a sorry amateur. Also, I found no difference between towel types, however I have found a difference in materials and 100% cotton is the superior way to go.

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