- Product Reviews
- Gear Guides
- Tip and Tutorials
- Adorama TV
Just dew it, with help from extension tubes
See those water droplets hanging from flowers, grass and more? Follow this advice and discover how you can capture their unique view of the world with your digital camera.
I am not a Chicago native, yet I have lived here long enough to hear the stories about – and have experienced first hand – the harsh winters, this year being the exception to the so-called harsh winters! My goodness: As I write this article exclusively for the Adorama Learning Center, it is approaching a high of 80° today and the calendar sitting on my desk says March 14th! Not that unusual for those of you living in the Southeast or Southwest, but for the Midwest, it's unheard of to have weather like this in the middle of March! By the time you read this it will certainly be time to get outside with close-up equipment: Macro lenses, extension tubes, ring-flashes, and close-up filters— all of which you can buy at Adorama!
Just dew it!
One of my most fascinating discoveries in the world of close-up photography was made long ago. Upon awakening one early morning, I looked outside and saw one of the heaviest blankets of ground fog I had ever seen on my farm. I headed out the door to the large backyard flower garden and I came upon three huge dew-covered spider webs. It was one of those rare moments where the dew drops were not only large, but the air was dead calm. I made quick work with my 105mm Micro Nikkor lens, available at Adorama, of two of these spider webs, both of which were suspended between two long rows of flowering zinnias (#1, right). It was also at this time that I noticed with great delight a 'fish- eye' view of my flower garden within each of the individual drops of dew.
Thus began a love affair with dew drops the world over.
Several years ago, during one of those early spring days when the light was hazy, I found a patch of grass and plucked a few flowers from the nearby flower garden and placed them about 1"
Let's assume you have a mid-range lens or telephoto zoom with macro. Chances are good you can record an image at 1/6 to 1/4 life size, and chances are even better that you have already done so and made the discovery that you can't get as close as you want many times. All that's missing is a set of extension tubes!
Dew drops on blades of grass or flower stems continue to be subjects that many shooters eventually migrates towards but as is often the case the results are far from fulfilling as the photographer quickly learns the macro feature on their zoom lens is hardly macro at all. But with the aid of some Kenko extension tubes (right; available at Adorama), a macro shot is just a few twists away.
With my 18-70mm street zoom and the focal length set to 50mm and with one 12mm extension tube I am able to record a lone flower stem with several dew drops upon it, but at an image magnification that is a bit too small for my tastes. I combine the 12mm with the 20mm extension tube and as you can see, I am now getting closer to a far more fulfilling composition, but not until I place all three extension tubes between the camera and my 18-70mm lens do I fully realize a frame filling composition of dew drops on a flower stem, dew drops so close that we can now see, inside those very drops, the landscape that lies behind them (#4 below).
The drawbacks to extension tubes are as follows: If you are using all three extension tubes at one time with a midrange or telephoto zoom, and of course you are on a tripod, your camera and lens will experience some serious wobble, (wobble as in the kind you experience at the outdoor café when one of the legs of the table doesn't quite hit the floor.) That wobble translates into camera shake and if you have ever wanted a great excuse to use a cable release and mirror lock-up now is the time to do that!
In our first photograph (#4 above), shot at f/22 at 1/4 second with a 50mm lens and all three Kenko Extension Tubes, I chose to use mirror lock-up and my electronic cable release. In the second photograph (#5 above), same exposure of course, I chose to press the shutter release with my finger and that introduced the "wobble factor." Since the shutter fires right away after pressing the shutter release, the exposure is recording the wobble and not the otherwise sharp as a tack drops of dew on the flower stem.