Photo Notes

February 1, 2016

Vocative

Filed under: Fine Art,Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 4:18 pm
Vocative

Vocative

This is another image from my fine art micro portfolio. As with most of these images it’s named for a part of speech, rather than called light refracted through a plastic ice cube. I think that the title Vocative is much more, well, evocative.

I enjoy the process of looking through the microscope and other special micro equipment to find the beautiful and the unexpected. You can find worlds in a piece of glass or an insect wing.

This image was made with bellows and a 28mm Schneider Componon lens. I think the aperture on the lens was about f16, but of course the working aperture was much smaller. The digital camera makes it easier to work with microscope lenses and other special optics. A few companies, like Zeiss and Schneider have made special optics for the purpose of photographing microscopic images, but there are actually many choices. You can use the objective from a microscope, with out the rest of the scope, or you can use an enlarger lens. Some of the best lenses are older fixed focal length Nikon lenses, like the 35mm f2.8. Smaller focal lengths give greater magnification, so a wide-angle lens can be a great choice.

If you’d like to buy a print of Vocative use the PayPal link below. You’ll get a print mounted an matted to 16X20-ready to pop into a frame. Why not order one now?


I’m offering a class in working with micro equipment on February 28, just a few more days. You can sign up for just $175. Unlike so many photo safari trips you can go back to the land of the very small again and again. The equipment is not expensive, and this is an opportunity to have a guided tour. This workshop will give you the keys to unlock the doors. I hope you’ll join us! Use this link to find out more about this workshop and to sign up!

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

 

January 14, 2016

Wheelock

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 12:17 pm
Wheelock

Wheelock

This was one of the first images I made using a plastic ice cube to diffract light. There are a couple of other images made with the ice cubes at my blog:
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3005
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=2954
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3099

I found it difficult to title this series of images because the images are about light and color rather than images of things. I thought that Plastic Ice Cube #1 and #2 and so on were not really very good. Finally I decided to use language terms for the images. I learned most of these terms in Latin classes. Eventually I branched out and so this title is the name of the person that wrote my Latin textbook.

The technology I used to make this image was very complex because I was using large format film to get the kind of resolution I wanted. A smaller film format, such as 35mm film, would have been too grainy. I used a 63mm Zeiss Luminar lens on the camera. The lens was almost three feet from the film. Of course there was no built in meter on large format cameras, so figuring exposure was quite complex. In addition to figuring how much light was actually coming through the plastic I had to compensate for almost eight stops of bellows extension. The exposure was several minutes long. The film image is about 20 times the size life size, and any enlargement is bigger still.

Digital cameras have made it easier to visit these kinds of extremely close images. Of course there is still a great deal of confusion about how to do this. I’m offering a Workshop on February 28 that will be a sort of tour of micro photography. You can find out more, and sign up, at this link.

Of course you can order a print of this image, about 12 inches wide using the link below. This image will be about 80 times life size.

A version of this image is also in my book B-Four, however the current image is a significant re-interpretation. I really like the process of re-visiting my images that these blog posts have given me. Even though this image has changed, I hope you’ll consider purchasing the book.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:

Beyond 1 to 1 – Going Into Uncharted Territory

Filed under: Micro Photography,Uncategorized,Workshops — John Siskin @ 9:21 am

New date coming soon

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This workshop will give you the ability to photograph things smaller than a human hair. You’ll be able to photograph the scales on a butterfly’s wing or the tip of a pen.

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The workshop will explain how to use simple tools to shoot amazing pictures. And you’ll have a list of the tools to take you back into the very small whenever you want. The tools are much more inexpensive than you might think: a reverse adapter, which will make a 50mm lens into a powerful micro lens, is only $12! You can get a microscope that will enable you to make an image that is 40 times life size on your sensor (that would translate into an 8X10 print that’s 320 times life size) for just over $100. It’s amazing how a few pieces of inexpensive equipment will unlock an unseen world.

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This workshop is a guided tour into this world, but unlike a safari to Africa or voyage to Alaska, you can return to this world whenever you want. You’ll get a chance to experiment with tools you can throw into your camera bag and the tools you’d use at home. This isn’t the kind of gear that you need a lab to use, you can explore at a kitchen table! We’ll work with bellows and extension tubes. You’ll see how to shoot through microscope lenses and enlarging lenses, in fact you can make fabulous micro image with a simple 50mm lens. You’ll also get to shoot with the microscope, and learn how to shoot with your own scope!

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The workshop is limited to just 6 people. Each person will be able to use the equipment and make shots during the workshop. If you bring a flash card you’ll be able to keep your shots! You’ll also get an extensive list of tools you might want to get, including a list of gear you can get used. The idea is to unlock the door-to give you a ticket into the unseen worlds!

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Please visit my site to see my other workshops and to check out the Free On Line Classes!
You can buy one of my books by clicking on the titles below:


January 8, 2016

New Workshop-Micro Photography

Filed under: Micro Photography,Photographic Education,Workshops — John Siskin @ 12:21 pm

When was the last time you were inspired?
When was the last time you saw something Truly New? Or looked at something and saw it as new?
One of the challenges for a photographer is finding new subjects and new ways of seeing. Of course it’s possible to build a career shooting subjects you have an affinity for, but isn’t important to walk into unknown territory?

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My upcoming Micro Workshop will open doors to terra incognita, the unknown and the unexplored.
There are many ways to explore the merely small, those things you see when you look closely. But this workshop will enable you to see the worlds on the back of a fly and the oceans in a piece of opal, the miraculous rainbows in a piece of plastic. This is your opportunity to photograph an unseen world. This world isn’t too far away, and the tools that take you there are within your grasp. You need only have a good camera and a few adapters to begin. If you choose to go further good microscopes are cheaper than a new lens or speed light.

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I want to act as your tour guide on this journey. I’m asking you come on a safari to the land of the infinitesimal. Unlike most journeys this one will give you the opportunity to return. You’ll be able to go back to this territory because this workshop will give you the keys; you can unlock the door again whenever you choose. This workshop will give you the ability to explore within the heated comfort of your own home. You’ll get extensive information on tools and where to find them.

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Right now I’m looking for a few bold photographers that want to go on this journey. I haven’t set a specific itinerary or a price. We could go for a one day tour or even a two day trip that would include a microscope that you’ll take home. I’d like to know what you want to take home from this trip.

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Please get in touch with me so that this trip can happen, and so you can join us! Right now the tour is scheduled to start on May 15. You can reach me for more information at john@siskinphoto.com.

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You can buy one of my books by clicking on the titles below:


December 18, 2015

Parrot Feathers #2

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 12:54 pm

 

Parrot Feathers #2

Parrot Feathers #2

This image has wonderful color and depth. I like the pattern of the feathers and the contrast. The dark feathers near the top of the images help to give a relatively flat subject a sense of depth. It interests me that, although the lines lead away from the center of the image, my eyes keep coming back into the image. Most micro images don’t have a specific orientation, especially because I’m usually shooting straight down. I noticed that I didn’t like either landscape presentation of the image, but I do like both portrait presentations. I’m including another version of the shot upside down. This upside down version was the way the computer first presented the image.

Parrot Feathers #2, reverse orientation

Parrot Feathers #2, reverse orientation

This is the second image of the Parrot feathers I’m putting on the blog. This image was made in the same session as the Parrot Feathers #1. Please check out this link for more about how these images were made.

I have a lot of small things I use as subjects for micro photography. As I mentioned in the entry for Parrot Feathers #1, each time I work with very small subjects it’s like a journey. I may have ideas about what I hope to see, but I’m always open to surprises as well. I know that many people enjoy working with macro lenses outdoors, but I’m often surprised at how few people want to go even closer with some more specialized equipment. This equipment is not that expensive but it can be difficult to find. You might want to check this article I did for Photo Techniques, it has more information about micro photography: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/microscope.pdf. You can access many of my articles about photography at: http://www.siskinphoto.com/magazinearticles.php.

As I’ve mentioned this blog is part of a series of entries about my fine art images. I’m doing this series as part of an update for the fine art pages on my website. I hope this series will make my images more accessible, both on line and as prints. If you buy a print of this image you can choose to display it in any orientation you would like. If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be about 13 inches wide mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


You can buy one of my books at these links

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types and sizes of prints in the future.

 

December 16, 2015

Parrot Feathers #1

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 5:04 pm
Feathers #1

Feathers #1

I love the saturation and pattern of these feathers. The lines of feathers can be very evocative. The glowing gold in the shot is really striking.

This image was made with my current digital camera a Nikon D800. This is a truly fine digital camera, and one of the finest overall cameras I’ve ever used. The files are truly spectacular, in size, color and sharpness. In addition the camera is easy to work with. I paired the camera with a Nikon PB-4 bellows for this shot. The PB-4 bellows is the only bellows Nikon ever made that allowed movements, both shift and swing. These movements allow the photographer to adjust the position of the lens relative to the sensor, which gives control over framing and depth of field.

Shot with my Rodenstock 80 f4. This is an enlarging lens. Many kinds of lens will work well with bellows, but of the best all around lenses are enlarger lenses. You’ll need an adapter that goes from 39mm (Leica Thread) to T-Mount and T-mount to your camera mount. Both of these are available at B&H and other photo retailers. I’ve attached a set-up shot. I used a desk lamp to light the subject.

Nikon PB-4 bellows and enlarging lens.

Nikon PB-4 bellows and enlarging lens.

I love working with equipment that allows me to see microscopic detail in a subject. This equipment allows me to go on a voyage without leaving the studio. For more on macro/micro photography check out these posts:
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=424
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=415
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=405
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=394

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be about 13 inches wide mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


You can buy one of my books at these links

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

December 8, 2015

Rainbow in the Sky

Filed under: Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 3:47 pm
Rainbow in the Sky

Rainbow in the Sky

This shot isn’t an atmospheric phenomenon, and it isn’t even the sky, but it’s named Rainbow In The Sky. It’s a picture of a prop plastic ice cube. I took it with a 4X5 Toyo camera, a Zeiss Luminar (63mm) and about a yard of bellows. Effectively this is a microscope. By the time you make a 13 inch wide print of this the magnification is much more than 100x. I do a lot of work with microscopes of various kinds, please check out (www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/microscope.pdf) on the magazine page on my website and these are links to blog articles I’ve done on close up work and micrography:
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=424
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=415
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=405
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=394

I really like working with the microscope; it’s like going on a safari to an unknown land. You never know when something as mundane as a prop plastic ice cube will turn out to be fabulous. I still remember seeing this image appear on the ground glass, absolutely stunning! I’ll also be posting pictures of butterfly wings and all sorts of interesting microscopy images as I work on the fine art pages of my website. I hope you’ll continue to watch.

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be about 13 inches wide mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


This image, and many others, is also available in my book B-Four. You can look at the book at this link, and order it as well. I hope you’ll take a look at the book.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

June 24, 2015

Nikon PB-4 Bellows

Filed under: Micro Photography,Photographic Education,Photographic Equipment — John Siskin @ 2:10 pm

My books and my classes give me a reason to keep doing this blog. If you’re in Indiana I hope you’ll consider taking my Portfolio Workshop. You can see a more  about this workshop and other classes if you visit the workshop page on my site. Thanks so much for your attention.

I’ve done blog posts about micro-photography in the past. You might want to check the posts at this link: http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?cat=12. I generally like the term micro photography, rather than macro photography, for a couple of reasons: first Nikon calls their close-up lenses Micro-Nikkor. If it works for Nikon it works for me. In addition much of the time I’m shooting at a reproduction ratio grater than 1:1. This means that the image of the object is grater than life size on the camera sensor. Another way to think of this is that the full frame 35mm sensor is 1X1.5 inches. So if a U.S. quarter just fills the short dimension of the frame you’re shooting 1:1, since a quarter is 1 inch tall. I could add metric equivalents, but I hope you get the idea. For a smaller sensor you need to more than fill the frame to get to 1:1. The size of the object and the size of the image, on the camera sensor, are the key to the reproduction ratio, at the camera anyway. If you then multiply the reproduction ratio by the size of the print or the monitor image you get the actual magnification of the image. If I did a shot at 1:1, and then made an 8X10 print, the print would magnify the subject 8 times. If I did a shot that was 10 times the size of the object, on the sensor, the reproduction ratio would be 10:1. If I made an 8X10 print the print would then magnify the image 80 times.

made with the cell phone

made with the cell phone

The thing to keep in mind is that you can magnify the image many times on the monitor, or the print, but usually the resolution will suffer. I’ve included a butterfly picture from my phone. The whole image looks good, especially from a phone. I cropped a closer version of the image, and frankly that doesn’t look so good. There is a very significant improvement in image quality when you magnify the subject in the camera rather than trying to magnify the image in post-production. The camera optics you use to magnify the subject also have a huge effect on the quality of your final shot. The blog posts I mentioned earlier have a lot of information about how various combinations of lenses and other hardware perform for this kind of photography.

Butterfly wing

Butterfly wing

I’ve recently acquired a new bellows and I wanted to write about it here. The bellows allows you to magnify the image, on the sensor, by moving the lens further from the sensor. I know this seems backwards, but the further the lens is from the camera sensor the grater the magnification is on the sensor. Of course the problem is that camera lenses, even Nikon Micro lenses, limit the distance you can move the lens from the sensor. So there are bellows, and extension tubes, so that you can mount the lens further from the sensor. For many years I’ve used a very simple bellows to do micro work, the Nikon Model 3, and its worked pretty well. However I have long wanted to get the Nikon PB-4 Bellows. This isn’t the newest bellows Nikon makes, but I think it’s the best they ever made. First the bellows have a swing movement, so you can change the geometry between lens and camera. This means that the middle of the lens doesn’t have to be parallel to the film. One thing you can do with this adjustment is to change your depth of field so that it follow the subject, or you can use it to change the shape of the subject. There’s a lot of information about swing and tilt movements in other places, so I won’t go into it here. The bellows also has a shift movement, which makes it easier to place the subject in the frame. The thing that really improves my micro shots better is that the camera and the lens can be moved together with a focus adjustment on the bellows unit. This is relatively simple, and a lot of bellows have it, but not my Nikon Model 3. Since I use an old copy stand for my micro set up this offers me better fine focus. The Nikon PB-4 bellows are the only model Nikon made with the swing and shift movements. Of course there are other ways to do this: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/DigitalViewCamera.pdf. This digital view camera works, but it’s more awkward to use than the Nikon PB-4.

Opal

Opal

There are a lot of lenses you can use with the bellows. One good source of optics is enlarging lenses, another is microscope lenses. I’ve discussed lens choices and adapters in the earlier blog posts: http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?cat=12. One of the things I want to do is mount a 135mm enlarging lens on the bellows. This should allow me to focus at infinity, so I can easily use this lens to do table top and other set-up that aren’t actually micro. Of course the advantage will be the swing and shift movements.

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Parrot feathers

I’ll be posting more shots soon, here and at my facebook page: www.facebook.com/JohnSiskinPhotographer. These are just my first experiments with the new bellows. I’ll also be doing a post about the Nikkor 60mm G ED f2.8 micro lens that I recently added to my tool kit. Please keep an eye out. You may also want to check out my magazine articles: http://www.siskinphoto.com/magazinearticles.php as well as the workshop page: http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php. I’m continuing to add the classes I used to teach at BetterPhoto to the workshop page. Of course I hope you’ll consider purchasing my books at Amazon.

Tiny Skull

Tiny Skull

There are over 2900 subscribers to this blog! 3000 soon! Thanks for your interest. I hope some of you will remember to like my page at facebook: www.facebook.com/JohnSiskinPhotographer.

April 19, 2010

Using a Microscope

Filed under: Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 5:28 pm

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First, unless someone wants to give me an electron microscope, this will be the last blog about macro/micro for a while. I am going to discuss the microscope, and I hope you’ll find it interesting. I’ve written about this before, and the best copy of the article is at BetterPhoto.com, here’s the link: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=185. There are more images in this version than the version on my website. Anyway, I hope you’ll look, because I’m not going to cover everything here.

The microscope is a compound system, that is there are two sets of lenses that work together to create a large degree of magnification. Telescope and binoculars work the same way. The objective is the lens near the subject and the eyepiece is at the top of the microscope. You multiply the power of the two to get the power of the system: a 4X objective and a 10X eyepiece give you a 40X enlargement. A basic student grade microscope will cost you about $120 and reach an enlargement of 600X. In theory anyway.

The problem is that when you use powerful objectives, any thing over 4X, the lens is too close to the subject. You just can’t get any light on the subject. Still this will work well if the subject is translucent, because microscopes are designed to light things from below, so the light goes through them. So I often use a 4X objective and a 15X eyepiece, which gives me 60X. 60 times life size is pretty damn close! I use quartz lights to illuminate my subjects from above, or rarely from below. I have also used strobes successfully, but you need to have a bright modeling light to see the subject. Seeing the subject is a big challenge.

You need a standard monocular microscope like this one: http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/t1480d.html. Then you need the adapter. This allows you to use a T-mount to mount your camera to the microscope. Here’s the adapter: http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/m1573d.html. Here’s a T-mount to Nikon: http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/m1610d.html and for Canon: http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/m1607d.html and there are others.

Please check out my classes at BetterPhoto. You can still sign up for the current session!
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started In Commercial Photography

Thanks, John Siskin

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April 11, 2010

Special Micro Lenses

Filed under: Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 11:57 am

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Shot with the 63mm Zeiss Luminar lens and an extension tube.

First I want to say that I received the latest issue of Photo Technique Magazine yesterday, with my new article in it. This is the May/June issue and I hope you’ll pick it up. I really like the layout.

The macro/micro techniques I’ve been discussing in the last few weeks could easily have been done with a 50mm f1.8 lens. In fact, for use with bellows or an extension tube or a reverse mounting ring this is a very effective lens. The thing is that there are many other lenses that you could use and some of them are better. Most camera lenses are designed to focus at infinity. If you want the lens to focus much closer than it is good to optimize the spacing between elements to achieve that. I am not familiar with any lens that changes its internal geometry to continuously optimize the lens as you get closer. I don’t think it would be practical to attempt this for the small benefit it would provide. Still there are many lenses that have been designed to focus at a very close distances, but these lenses don’t work well at infinity.

The problem is how can we adapt these lenses to a modern digital camera? Since there are two lens mounts that are common for lenses that would work for micro imaging we really only need two kinds of adapters. First the two lenses: enlarging lenses and microscope lenses. Enlarging lenses were meant for traditional photographic enlargers. The distance between the negative and the photo paper was small, so these lenses were optimized for close work. Common focal lengths are in the range from 50mm to 135mm. These lenses would work well with extension tubes or bellows. High quality enlarging lenses, from Nikon and Schneider, are often available for reasonable prices. Almost all enlarging lenses were made with a simple 39mm thread mount. This is called the Leica Thread mount.

Shot with a Schneider 28mm enlarger lens

Microscope lenses are obviously designed for extremely close work. You can shoot with just an objective lens, with out the eyepiece. This gets you a considerable enlargement of your subject onto the sensor. The best lens for most situations is a 4X lens, as stronger lenses require you to be too close to the subject. A PLAN lens is very well corrected and would give excellent results. I will be talking about shooting with a complete microscope in another blog. Most microscope lenses also use a common thread, called DIN. In addition to lenses designed for microscopy there are some large format micro lenses that use this thread. Zeiss made a lens called the Luminar, which is extremely fine and uses this thread. I own a 63mm Luminar that has given me excellent results. There have also been other micro lenses that used this thread including the Micro Tessar from Bausch and Lomb. One advantage these lenses have over the microscope lenses is an adjustable diaphragm.

So the problem is how to mount Leica Tread and DIN lenses to a Nikon, Canon or whatever. The answer is actually two adapters. The first step is to covert the lens thread to a T-mount. This was a standard mount developed decades ago to allow secondary manufacturers to make lenses for several cameras. Since the mount doesn’t allow for any automation, aperture, focus and so on, the mount is little used. You still see them on mirror lenses, which don’t have auto focus and don’t have adjustable diaphragms. Anyway this adapter will allow you to mount a DIN microscope lens to T-mount: http://www.edmundoptics.com/onlinecatalog/displayproduct.cfm?productID=1968&PageNum=1&StartRow=1. I have now spent over an hour trying to find a Leica M39 thread to T-mount adapter. Actually finding one was easy. I have one right here in front of me. I can’t find a link to buy one. If you can find a link let me know, so I can update this.  For T-mount adapters, from the T-mount thread to Nikon, Canon and so on, you can go many places. I usually buy these from Surplus Shed (www.surplusshed.com).

I’ve attached a couple of pictures with the 63mm Zeiss Luminar, microscope thread to extension tube; and a picture with a 28mm Schneider Enlarging lens. I have no idea what the 28mm enlarging lens was actually designed to do, since it is too short for most enlargers.

Please check out my classes at BetterPhoto. You can still sign up for the current session!
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started In Commercial Photography

Thanks, John Siskin

Slag Glass
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