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Being Very Close to the World Around Me

A few weeks ago you might remember how Nikon lent me a 40mm macro lens.  I played with it, enjoyed it, but knew at the time that there was no way I would be able to afford one, too much money for me to have, just play around with. At that time suggestions were made, but Ben from Aperture64 Photography told me about some extension tubes that he has used by Polaroid, not to expensive and a good price for experimenting.  I looked them up and they arrived last week.

Again they haven’t been as easy to use, which I expected, but I have been experimenting with them.  I didn’t get the ones that would have meant that I could changed the aperture or use autofocus, so if you are contemplating going down this road, I would recommend getting those.  I don’t know how you would tell the difference when buying them, but hopefully someone can leave a comment on that.  Victor from Victor Rakmil Photography suggested that I see if I had a lens that I could change the aperture on the actual lens.  This is where I am so glad I didn’t get rid of my old film photography gear, the lenses I had for my old film Nikon have the aperture on the lens and I can change it there.  So I played around with both of the old lenses yesterday.

LeanneCole-exttubes-9500This was outside in the garden.  I was using my old 35-105mm lens, and I set the aperture on f/16. Focusing was difficult because I had to use manual focus which meant moving into it with the camera as close as I could until the image went into focus.  There was no control over that.  It also meant I had to stay very still to try and get it at that point. That is the part I found the most difficult.

LeanneCole-exttubes-9521These are the dead Gerberas again, spiders I think are starting to live in them, so it might be time to get rid of them.  I put the 70-210mm on the extension tubes, with all the tubes, and just played.  I found if I zoomed the lens in and out it was easier to find that point where the images was really sharp.  I enjoyed using the zoom a lot, and will try it out with the other lens as well.  I am looking forward to getting out on some cold mornings to take photos.

LeanneCole-tiddles-9561While I was taking photos of the dead flowers, our cat, Tiddles, was asleep in the sun on the floor.  I thought it would be good to take some photos of him asleep.  Then he rolled onto his back so the sun could warm up his belly.  I don’t normally show photos of my cat, but sometimes, well sometimes I just have to.  I am sure David from Through the Viewfinder. . . will be able to relate to this.

I haven’t done a very thorough explanation of the Extension tubes, as I really don’t know what I am doing yet, beyond having some fun.  I know there are other photographers out there that do know what they are all about.  Victor wrote a post on using Extension tubes and I would encourage you to go and take a look.  The post and link are Because you can never get enough magnification… (An essay on extension tubes etc.).

One thing I do have to warn you about, if you get the polaroid ones, which is what I got, and you get them for a Nikon, to get the one off your lens, you push the silver screw thing towards the camera body.  I have to tell you, I put it on my 50mm lens and I couldn’t get it off.  I was so scared, thought I would going to have to chuck the lens, but it did come off and I know what to do now, thanks Ben for your help there too.

I am going to put the images in a gallery now, with a couple more.  Enjoy your Friday.

120 Comments
  1. I love that cat photo!!!

    May 9, 2014
  2. You have managed to get some very interesting shots Leanne. I look forward to seeing more.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Colline, it is an interesting process.

      May 9, 2014
  3. leecleland #

    Love your macros, Leanne and yes it is a learning curve but so much fun. Tiddles is a natural poser.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Lee, they are a learning curve, it is nice to be playing with something new too. Not sure how much I will get into it though. He is a poser.

      May 9, 2014
  4. I bought a set of them ages ago and haven’t had any luck with them at all. Will have to have another with the advice from you and Victor..

    May 9, 2014
    • They are very different to use, and it is going to take time to adjust, what is happening when you use them Livonne?
      I will keep doing posts on them, I’m sure, as I get used to them.

      May 9, 2014
  5. I would definitely suggest trying out an alternative to a macro lens like macro filters. They’re very inexpensive and definitely give a great result with very little distortion. I’m hoping to get another set for my Nikon 1 camera since I already have a set of 52mm filters for my girlfriends Nikon D3200.
    http://www.amazon.com/PLR-Close-Up-Digital-Cameras-55-200mm/dp/B002P9HXMW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399586953&sr=8-1&keywords=macro+filters

    May 9, 2014
    • I have one of those now, I think it is a +2, not exactly that one, but one. They are inexpensive, though the extension tubes I got were also inexpensive. I like trying lots of things and seeing what I can come up. Thanks for the link.

      May 9, 2014
  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    Do you use a tripod? I’m disabled so I have to use one to photograph anything. It’s amazing how detailed your photos are. 🙂

    May 9, 2014
    • I didn’t Jackie, but I would next time, my tripod was in the boot of the car and my daughter took the car to uni yesterday. I will try it again with the tripod, will let you know how I go. Thanks, the detail is incredible.

      May 9, 2014
  7. Interesting post! I’ve been wondering about macro photography also yet I can’t afford a lens. I love Tiddles’ photos and your yellow flower. The paw is my favorite lol. Someone also told me about this: http://www.raynox.co.jp/english/dcr/dcr250/indexdcr250eg.htm I’m not promoting it, I’ve never tried it, but he had some awesome photos of a fly that were incredible using this device! I’m thinking of purchasing it. I think I can use it on my 70-300mm lens.

    May 9, 2014
    • Tiddles is so used to us taking his photo. LOL, poor boy. Victor talks about that in his post. He recommends it, might have to put it on the list. I should have another look too, see if I have a lens I could put it on. Thanks Laura.

      May 9, 2014
      • Tiddles is a ham! On google circles, someone took a macro with that Raynox (I think that’s what it’s called) and it was fabulous! Here it is: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108578236953748775654/posts The detail is incredible!

        May 9, 2014
      • He is Laura, he was stretched right this morning on my mouse mat so I couldn’t do any work. I couldn’t see the image Laura, it just went straight to your page and I didn’t know which image I was meant to be looking at.

        May 9, 2014
      • Oops. I’ll have to send it tomorrow. I’m in our ballet seats waiting for it to start lol. I love Tiddles!!

        May 9, 2014
      • Enjoy the ballet.

        May 9, 2014
      • I shared you the fly image in google+. I don’t think copying and pasting the link always works. We had fun at the ballet 🙂

        May 10, 2014
      • Oh yes, I saw it, great image, it is certainly worth considering, that filter, but then where do you stop. That is great, I must send you an email.

        May 10, 2014
      • I’m glad you liked it. Amazing for just a filter. Although it would be nice to have a good macro lens but I think this would help me decide if I want one. Look forward to hearing from you!

        May 10, 2014
      • It is Laura, and not to expensive either. Though it will probably cost a lot more here. Talk soon.

        May 10, 2014
  8. leecleland #

    Great post Leanne and enjoyed Victor’s post on macro lenses too.

    May 9, 2014
  9. I am a sucker for cat closeups, whether you make a habit of it or not!

    May 9, 2014
    • I will remember that, there are some very funny photos of him on his facebook page, poor boy the things he has to put up.

      May 9, 2014
  10. Pat #

    Love that kitty nose.

    May 9, 2014
  11. Gorgeous! Particularly love the dahlia (?) And the cat’s paw : )) you have a good Friday too! Looks like it’s about to spit the dummy here!

    May 9, 2014
    • Thanks Trees, that is the forecast for here too, later today anyway.

      May 9, 2014
  12. I am as much a sucker for macro as I am for high contrast! No practical applications in my life, mind you. Pure fun!

    May 9, 2014
    • Sometimes things have to be for pure fun. Thanks Audrey.

      May 9, 2014
  13. More Tiddles, please… I know you don’t want to be the crazy cat-lady photographer, but you do have a handsome cat. Interesting post and glad you are experimenting – for sure always save your Nikon glass. I have some older Nikon tubes that I have not used in a while…maybe I’ll give them a try next rainy day.

    May 9, 2014
    • I will see what I can do. We do take lots of photos of him, but they all seem to end up on Facebook, on his page. It is nice to experiment, I should do more of it. I almost sold my old Nikon stuff, so I am so glad I didn’t now. Thanks Robert.

      May 9, 2014
  14. HI Leanne… I’m so glad you’ve been experimenting… it’s the best way 🙂
    The detail you’ve captured is stunning… truly wonderful!! …and without a tripod!
    Thanks for the link to Victor’s post on this… I’m off to have a read.
    You go girl!!! 😀

    May 9, 2014
    • It is Robyn, I really enjoy it, and I just don’t do it enough. I got a Holga lens about 18months ago and I’ve used it maybe twice, so it is time, I really did some photos with it.
      Yeah, without a tripod, I think I will use it next time. I hope you enjoyed Victor’s post.
      Thanks Robyn. 😀 😀

      May 9, 2014
      • Victor’s post was very informative. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.
        It seems there are many ways of doing this.
        Looking forward to seeing more of your closeups 🙂

        May 9, 2014
      • That is great Robyn.
        There are lots of ways, I guess we just have to choose which one is best for you.
        Thank you, I’m sure you will see more. 🙂

        May 9, 2014
  15. Wonderful photos Leanne. I really love the cat photo 🙂

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you, of course we think he is gorgeous. 🙂

      May 9, 2014
  16. If anyone deserves a macro or micro lens as Nikon call them sometimes, it is you Leanne. I also love the shots of dear Tiddles. We can see every detail of his powder puff soft fur. And, my, what big paws he has!!!

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Karen, do you want to write to them and tell them, haha. Tiddles is so cute and he puts up with so much from us. You can see on his face this look sometimes that just says, “what are you doing to me now”. His paws aren’t really big, but I know what you mean.

      May 9, 2014
      • You have such a massive following and are so promoting them you would think that Nikon would give it to you! I would certainly write and point out these facts if it would help. Think what it would do for them in terms of P.R.

        May 9, 2014
      • I don’t think my following is enough, unfortunately, or maybe they care because I am a woman, haha. Maybe if some people did write to them, maybe who knows. Thank you so much Karen, wonderful support.

        May 9, 2014
      • I can’t believe that 24k followers is not enough!
        I would happily make a donation towards you getting the lens. It would not take many of us to make this work. If anyone else reads this…lets make this happen for Leanne!

        May 9, 2014
      • I have tried that sort of thing before Karen, lovely offer, but most people won’t, so you might end up being the only one. It is wonderful offer though and wonderful thought, thank you so much.

        May 9, 2014
  17. INteresting post, Leanne. Is the 40mm Nikon you mentioned the one that is described on the Nikon site as the AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G? It is priced at US $279.95 while the PC-E Micro NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED is US$2,049.95. At any rate, I am curious to know if you were able to get as close with the Nikon 40mm as the examples above using extension tubes.

    May 9, 2014
    • Yes, it is the one Robin, though it probably costs about $500 here, it isn’t one I would buy though, you can get very close with it, like a couple of centimetres, but you can’t get a lot of detail, if that makes sense. If I were buying one I would go for the 105mm. I don’t know Robin, yes probably about the same, but the macro was easier to use, if you can believe it.

      May 9, 2014
      • OK, thanks, Leanne. I currently have Nikon’s 60mm micro and it works pretty well, but I’m always interested in the experience of others.

        May 9, 2014
      • I would stick with that one Robin, the 40mm was okay, but I wouldn’t buy it.

        May 9, 2014
  18. Oh, Tiddles is just the most adorable. The photos of him are fantastic! 🙂

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Linda, we think he is too. It is getting cold here so he hassles me in the morning to heat up his heat pack for his bed so he can sleep all day and be nice and warm.

      May 9, 2014
  19. Pat #

    I bought some extension tubes and agree that they require a lot of getting used to. They seem to require that we do everything different than we do without them. I had to work at focusing even though the ones I have say they allow auto focusing. I also found the tripod very useful. You captured some great shots.

    May 9, 2014
    • They do Pat, and I am sure it will take me a while to get used to them. I will definitely use the tripod next time, not sure when, but I know it will be soon. The ones I got don’t autofocus, but I know some do and I might get some of those eventually, I do like the option of being able to get that close. Thank you so much Pat.

      May 9, 2014
  20. Love the pussy cat shots!

    May 9, 2014
  21. You can just see that Tiddles is relishing that sun on his tummy. I think it might be a ‘macro’ weekend. Thanks Leanne …

    May 9, 2014
  22. Hi, I really like the first shot of the flower, the detail is great. Thanks for linking back to my blog, It was no problem helping out a fellow photographer esp after I suggested the tubes to you.
    When looking at macro tubes, if it says “Autofocus” this will enable you to use modern lenses and change the aperture (although the autofocus won’t find anything to focus on).
    Can’t wait to see more shots in the future.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Ben, you are welcome, and I did really appreciate the help.
      I have seen that now, I should have done that, I think if I replace these I will do that. Thanks, hopefully lots more int eh future.

      May 9, 2014
  23. Great Shots and yeah I know what you’re saying about the Polaroid tubes. Have had two stuck and then had to take all three apart and sort out the pesky release mechanism. Now they are fine but still a very tight fit. I use the smallest tube so I can fit my EFS lens to my teleconverter. You can get in real close to insects with that set up. The only downside Wasps – enough said 😀

    May 9, 2014
    • Haha, I thought I was a goner, didn’t know how I was going to tell my husband, thankfully I worked it out. Haha, thank Bruce, I will remember that.

      May 9, 2014
  24. Hi Leanne, Wow, you’re way beyond me with this lens. I love the picture of Tiddles, though. 🙂 Have a great day. 🙂

    May 9, 2014
    • I think it might be beyond me too Marsha, I am am right out of my comfort zone. Thank you, Tiddles is very cute. YOu have a great day too. 🙂

      May 9, 2014
      • I am. I’m done with jury duty. 🙂

        May 10, 2014
      • That must be a relief. I got a letter a few months back about doing jury duty, but since I run a business I don’t have to do it, which is nice.

        May 10, 2014
      • That’s cool. We don’t have such options, I don’t think, but I’ve never run a business.

        May 10, 2014
      • There are different reasons for being excused, running your own business, sickness, being a stay at home parent. Things that would make it impractical for you to do it. I’ve heard it is a lot of sitting around doing nothing.

        May 10, 2014
      • That it is! I always take my iPad and read. I don’t really mind doing it. We weren’t a very generous jury, but following the law, we weren’t convinced by the evidence that the patient had a good case. I’m sure the litigating attorney was furious at us.

        May 11, 2014
      • Juries scare me, I’ve heard stories of people who have been on juries where the person was definitely guilty, but the defence barister gave them a good reason for why the person did it and the jury acquitted the person, I don’t think juries always give you justice. They can be influenced too much. I think it would be better if it was a heap of judges.

        May 11, 2014
      • You could be right. It is a tremendous responsibility. The juries I have been on have debated the pros and cons to the best of our abilities, but in the end, it is whichever attorney presents the most persuasive argument. In this case we had to decide if an aggressive attorney convinced us with a “preponderance of evidence” that the injuries were “substantially” caused by the accident. We didn’t see that, but we felt like he deserved some money. I’m sure they were VERY unhappy, and I know we all felt badly about the plaintiff because he was such an unlucky fellow. But we were admonished to judge using the truth of the evidence, not sympathy. I think even a heap of judges, as in the Supreme Court can make huge errors of judgement sometimes.

        May 12, 2014
      • I agree, they can, but I think Juries can be persuaded a lot more. Judges would get thick skins, and be able to see through the crap a lot better than a jury. Also, if you have someone in the jury who is quite strong and a bit of bully, I am sure everyone would vote according to that person, purely because they were bullied into it. There are too many things that can go wrong with juries, and you know that just because a case gets to court, does not mean justice will be served, that is the unfortunate part apart it.

        May 12, 2014
      • True! Except for two of us, we all felt pretty much the same, but I know that the man who felt he had been injured was not happy. The old lady at fault felt wonderful.

        May 12, 2014
      • I am sure he wasn’t happy as well, but that is how things go sometimes.

        May 12, 2014
      • So true. 😐

        May 13, 2014
      • 😦

        May 13, 2014
  25. Daisy votes for more cat photos.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Daisy, will do what I can.

      May 9, 2014
  26. Jenny Overton #

    Interesting read. I love close up photography especially of animal parts and insects. I was suggested the extension tubes but way too complicated for me. So I just practice with the different lenses that I have.

    May 9, 2014
    • They are a little complicated, but not that bad really. Maybe you can try some one day. Thanks Jenny.

      May 9, 2014
  27. Ed #

    While I shoot with Nikon I use Sigma lenses and they have a very reasonable macro lens selection, I use a 100mm Macro and they also have a great inexpensive tube extention set.. 🙂

    May 9, 2014
    • I have heard that about Sigma, though at this stage, I can’t afford any new lenses, so I will have to wait. Thanks for the information Ed. 🙂

      May 9, 2014
  28. Love the kitty. Extension tubes can be tricky, I have the ones by Kenko. They allow the lens to electronically communicate with the camera. They can be handy if you don’t want to take an extra lens with you. Just add the tube and you can do close up work. Have fun with your new toy!

    May 9, 2014
    • I think if I get like the extension tubes I will get the ones by Kenko, but not right now. I like that idea, I hadn’t thought of that Nora, brilliant, thank you.

      May 9, 2014
  29. I have a couple of macro lenses sitting in my camera bag; your post has inspired me to get them out and start using them again!

    May 9, 2014
    • That is wonderful, I hope you do, macro can be fun. I do hope I get a marco one day. Thank you.

      May 9, 2014
  30. You are an amazing photographer. One can almost feel the care you put into your shots. Thanks so much for sharing. Keep shooting.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thank you Noel, that is wonderful thing to say.

      May 9, 2014
  31. I use canon extension tubes. Kenko sells a good set. Both retain metering and focus functions. I find it easier to focus using a macro rail.

    May 9, 2014
    • I don’t know how seriously I would get into Macro, at the moment it is a bit of fun, and I think if I was going to get more extension tubes I think I would get the Kenko one.

      May 9, 2014
      • They are a good alternative and much less expensive. KEH.com has a set for $119.00 (like new). The set contains the 12,20 and 36 tubes.

        May 10, 2014
      • I will look into that, though not sure when. The biggest problem is finding places that will ship to Australia, Amazon won’t ship a lot of this stuff here anymore. We pay so much more for everything, so I hope so.

        May 10, 2014
  32. I’ve had Canon’s 100mm macro lens for some years now. When using it as a macro (as opposed to a mild telephoto, which is also possible because the lens focuses out to infinity), I find the autofocus helpful primarily as a quick way to get the focus approximately right. From there I fine-tune either by turning the lens barrel to adjust focus or by moving the camera forwards and backwards slightly, which you described and which has the same effect. The closer I get, and therefore the greater the magnification, the harder it becomes to bring the main part of a subject into focus, especially since I hand-hold my camera. I do my best to steady myself, often by sitting rather than standing. Sometimes I lie down, and in that position I can rest one or both elbows on the ground for extra stability.

    Any of your readers who would like to see the results of my approach to focusing and stability are welcome to check out samples at

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/tag/macro/

    Given the difficulty of focusing when very close to a subject, I usually take several pictures or even a bunch in the hope that at least one will get the main focus right. Having several similar views also opens the possibility of taking a part of an image that’s sharper in one frame and pasting it into another to enhance a less-focused area.

    May 9, 2014
    • Thanks for sharing how you work Steve, there are so many different ways of doing macro, when I first started looking into it, I thought you just buy a macro lens and off you go, but that certainly isn’t the case. Thanks for the link.

      May 10, 2014
  33. As for extension tubes, I’d recommend one that passes information between the camera body and the lens. That allows the camera’s exposure and autofocus to work properly. Coincidentally, within the last two weeks I bought Canon’s 12mm extension tube so I could once again enjoy getting as close to macro subjects as I used to be when I used a camera with a 1.6x crop factor. I lost that closeup advantage when I switched to a full-frame body a year and a half ago, and I missed it. Of course now I have to deal with the magnified effects of camera shake, but nothing comes without a price.

    May 9, 2014
    • I hadn’t considered the disadvantage with using a full frame, I have been using my extension tubes on my DX camera, just seemed easier. I haven’t put them on the full frame yet. I think if I really enjoy doing this I will buy the Kenko tubes so I can have more control and have that link between the lens and the camera. Thanks again.

      May 10, 2014
  34. wow!!!! great macro!! It’s like tiny Alice entering another (alien) world of the beautiful and strange as I didn’t read what they were till after I examined them (gerberas) . I hope you keep doing it. It’s like that series on the “Secret World of Gardens.” Oh and love the cat!!!

    May 9, 2014
    • It is Cybele, just like that. I love how the gerberas go, might have to do more. That is a great idea, I might see about a series of dead flowers, could be fun. We love the cat too, thank you.

      May 10, 2014
  35. Reblogged this on dunjav.

    May 9, 2014
  36. Gorgeous shots, Leanne – especially the upside down cat, so to speak!

    May 10, 2014
    • Thank you, the cat being asleep made him so much easier to take photos of.

      May 10, 2014
  37. See, everyone likes seeing a cat! 🙂

    Those are marvelous close-ups of your Tiddles. And, the yellow of the flower, that’s very pretty.

    May 10, 2014
    • I have been surprised at how much people have liked seeing him. He does have his own facebook page, and lots of photos and short videos go up there of him.
      Thank you David, it was fun doing them.

      May 10, 2014
  38. Shawn #

    I have always been in awe of the natural world. Great shots!!!

    May 10, 2014
    • Thank you Shawn, it certainly has a lot to offer.

      May 10, 2014
  39. Wow I am behind Leanne, always look for your posts but think I have missed several this week. These macros are great, I am experimenting with my Vello Extension tubes this week. So far they seem great.

    May 10, 2014
    • It happens from time to time, I find the same, life just gets too busy sometimes. Thank you, I don’t know if I think the polaroid ones are great, but I think I might get the Kenko ones. See how they go, but not right now. Thanks

      May 10, 2014
  40. Leanne, these are the tubes I bought from B&H, of course you are down under and I don’t know what is available down there and how much they will cost there, they have the extension tubes for both Canon and Nikon in auto focus, mine are Canon here is the link
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=vello+extension+tubes&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

    May 10, 2014
    • Most things are available to us, we just pay a lot more money for them. Thanks, I will check it out.

      May 10, 2014
  41. more of the cat, please……;-)

    May 10, 2014
    • We will have to see how well behaved he is.

      May 10, 2014
  42. Leanne – How are you getting the leanne cole dot com placed so unobtrusively on your images? Looks random. Are you doing that yourself?

    May 10, 2014
    • On these, yes, I do it, I put them where I want and then manipulate them to match the image.

      May 10, 2014
  43. Coincidentally, I just got done with a photo shooting session with my own recently aquired tubes.

    May 11, 2014
    • Great coincidence, I hope your images turned out well, mine are okay, but I am sure I can do better, I think I might get some better ones. Let me know when you post some, so I can make sure I see them.

      May 11, 2014
  44. Hi Leanne,
    In addition to extension tubes there is also a reversing ring which allows the lens to be turned around for extreme macros. There s an article here http://www.lightandmatter.org/2013/general-photography-articles/thomas-shahan-macro-photography/

    May 12, 2014
    • I have heard of those, there are so many things you can get. Thanks for the links.

      May 12, 2014

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