I wrote another lens review for nikonrumors.com and it just has been published. This time I take a closer look at the Venus 60mm f2.8 2:1 macro lens. The lens has a maximum reproduction ratio of 2:1, which means that the image on the sensor can be twice as large as the actual object. Definitely an interesting lens which can produce sharp images, but it is not easy to handle.
Here are some sample images made with that lens. Please visit Nikonrumors.com to read the full review (link above).
There are many different philosophies and solutions when it comes to storing one’s camera gear. Since the hunter-gatherer blood runs strongly in my veins I amassed quite a collection of gear over the years. After some interim solutions with shelfes and boxes I finally decided on a dedicated IKEA Billy shelf with glass doors for storing and organizing my photo gear, see this post from 2012.
Since then equipment and accessories cluttered the shelfes and what was once organized turned into a chaotic heap. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I sifted through my gear to get rid of equipment I rarely used.
Along with this screening process I installed some LED lighting on the shelf. I bought two sets of IKEA LEDARE LED lights. One set consisted of four LED spots while the second set contained four LED strips. I chose the IKEA lights because they were the cheapest and have a warm color temperature of 2700K. There are also variants of the LEDARE lighting set which contain coloured LEDs and a control panel to change the color. I decided to place the spots on the shelfeswith lenses and cameras, because those are the core components of photography. The LED strips add a little more ambience to the shelf, so I installed them on the “flash shelf” and the “auxiliary photo stuff shelf”.
At first I punched a hole into the back lining of the Billy shelf. I used a drill bit and manually rotated it to create the hole. The reason I did this manually is that I wanted more control over the process. Since the back lining is very thin an electric drill would have punched through in a second and also damaged the wall behind it.
The spot can either be installed with adhesive tape or screws. I chose to employ the adhesive tape. Then I threaded the wiring through the hole in the back and plugged it in. A package contained four spots, I installed two spots on each shelf.
The LED strips consist of X white LEDs, encased in clear glass casing. Connectors which come with the set can be used to either have four separate strips which can be placed individually or they can be connected to a longer strip.
I opted to make two longer strips out of the four elements. A hole was punched into the back of the shelf lining as described above. Again the strips were installed using adhesive tape. I bundled the cables at the top of the shelf, organizing them with cable binders. To have easy access to the switched I taped them to the side of the shelf. All that was left was to lay a cable channel for the power chord and there we are !
Today’s Lumenatorial covers how I captured the photo of that baby ladybug. The story begins when I drove my car through the car-wash. Back home I inspected the cleaning job and found the ladybug on the car’s roof (however it got there at temperatures around zero). I took it inside and quickly assembled a makeshift studio.
An old film roll served as a holder for a matchstick on which I placed the ladybug. Two SB-R200 flashes with diffuser panels provided light. I mounted the Venus 60 mm f2.8 macro lens on my D800 and put the lens into macro mode (2:1 magnification !). The image was taken at 1/200s and f8, ISO 100 (don’t get fooled by the metadata. The lens is fully manual, no information is transmitted to the camera. The standard setting f2.8 is written into every picture’s metadata.The ladybug crawled and down, back and forth. I took around 80 shots during the session and chose the one at the top to be the winner. The grey blurry spot in the background was not intended, but helps the image. It is actually a reflection from the frame of my iMac which stood about 30 cm behind the ladybug.
Post processing involved stamping away some sensor dust (“a dirty mind posesses a dirty camera” or how did this saying go ?).
As a bonus here is a 100% crop of the final image. Not so cute at all, that ladybug, eh ?
A few months ago I wrote about the re-organization of my workspace. I purchased an electrically actuated desk, assembled it by myself and re-arranged the messy wiring I had produced over time.
Shortly after New Year’s Eve I received an email from the company which produces these desks, Inwerk. It was a standard email asking if I was satisfied with the product, if I had any questions etc. I replied with a few lines saying everything is ok. I also gave them the link to the article I wrote, which also contains a video.
Nothing happened for two weeks. One day my wife called me at work. “A package has been delivered, it is quite heavy and a sticker reads ‘caution, glass’. What did you order ?” I was baffled, because I did not expect anything. The package turned out to contain a bottle of wine and a short note from the sales agent at Inwerk. He told me that they enjoyed the video and wanted to say thank you with the bottle of wine.
That is an oustandingly kind gesture and made my day. Very good customer relationship management, thank you Inwerk !
Here is the video I sent them, enjoy !
NikonRumors has just published a guest post I have written. I did an extended version of the Walimex 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye review. Feeling a little bit proudly.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I took some time to look at my gear and re-arrange my photo shelf. As I went through the lenses, flashes and other items I came to realize that some items were just collecting dust. I have the unpleasant habit of hastily buying stuff and then not having enough time to use it to its full extent. Some kind of hunter-gatherer disorder if you like to say so. After realizing that some impulse purchases might not be as vital to my photographic survival as initially perceived I opted to put some stuff on eBay.
Sifting through your gear can have several effects: You might discover that some items are rarely used and therefore not really necessary for your needs (as explained above). Time to make some cash. But you can also look at it the other way around. Unused equipment can also be regarded as a source for inspiration. You might create a project based on that item. Found a neutral density filter ? Long exposure is a keyword that springs to my mind. Remote camera trigger – some goofy self-portraits are always funny.
Of course you also might discover that you don’t have any “surplus” photography gear. In that case: Congratulations ! You can focus on what you really need. This leaves more time to do what we love most: Taking photos.
Bottom line. From time to time, think about the gear you have. How much of the gear have you used in the past month / three months / six months / 12 months ? You might be surprised to find out that some items are not as necessary as they appeared in the first place when you bought them.
In the last months I have been struggling to deliver content on a weekly basis. Time is short and blogging takes time. So I decided to start a series of shorter entries called “Lumenatorials”. In these posts I will show a photo I made and deliver some background information on how it has been made. I have made such posts before. Lumenatorials will be short and deliver enough information to enable you to re-enact the shot if you like.
This first Lumenatorial is titled “The golden fruit”. What you see is a gold coin (a Kruger Rand) nested between the shells of a walnut. Now that’s a tree I would like to own…
The setting for this shot consisted of black cloth, draped over our diaper changing table. A black glossy tile from the hardware store served as a reflective underground. I have used this tile before in my model car photos, e.g. this shot of a Lamborghini Aventador. I mounted the camera on a tripod and pointed my 105mm macro lens at the setting. After arranging the shells and the gold coin (and blowing away some dust) the action could start.I set the exposure to 5 sec, f/16, ISO 100 and released the shutter. Then I used an SB-800 flash with a self-made snoot to illuminate the scene manually. The snoot gives you very directional lighting, the light is concentrated in one spot. With the flashgun seet to 1/32 manual power I popped it twice. The first flash went from the bottom left corner to illuminate the side of the shell and the rim of the coin, the second flash came straight from above. It took some tries to avoid nasty reflections from the coin.
Post processing involved heavy use of the brush and stamping tool to remove dust, blacken the background and enhance the appearance of the coin.