Photo Notes A place to talk about making images.

June 4, 2024

Cherry Blossoms and Lenses, a lot of lenses….

In most cases the inspiration for my photography comes from the external world. So, in the old days a client might contact me and request that I make pictures of spark plugs or concrete or whatever. As I am now retired most of my images begin with a spark of recognition from something outside myself. The challenge is to recognize the spark and to interpret the spark. For me a photograph is an invitation to interpret reality rather than to record reality. The entire process of making, rather than taking, a photograph is about interpretation.

One of the tools of interpretation that interests me most is the lens. Most current lenses are built with a bias toward accurate reproduction and high saturation and high contrast. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this, but, for me, it lacks inspiration. First, I would rather have lower contrast because it’s easy to increase contrast in Photoshop, and saturation as well. But since I have many lenses, and whose counting, I also value lenses which have a very different way of interpreting the world. The lens is like a paint brush: some are good for fine detail and others spread a wash of color.

What I wanted to do with this group of images was to present different interpretations of cherry blossoms inspired by the use of different lenses. 15 different lenses. If nothing else, this will show that the lens matters, it changes how a photograph is seen. Please understand that there is nothing really straight about these images. They have all been interpreted in photoshop, some just by adjusting exposure and cropping, and some in more aggressive ways. The lens is only part of interpretation, but, since it is the first step in interpretation, it can open and close doors for your final image.

There will be some who will say “I can do all of this with Photoshop, so I don’t need these lenses.” While that might be true with many of these images, would you be inspired to create these images if you only saw a sharp image with high contrast and saturation? Probably not. So, I hope that all of these shots cause you to want to see in new ways.

The Sharp Group

These lenses are designed, in one way or another, for macro and micro work. I used a Godox 685 flash with all these shots so I could stop the lens way down to increase depth of field. The lenses have different ranges and abilities, but all are quite sharp.

Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro at f22

I want to start with this lens because it’s a modern Nikkor lens. Has all the bells and whistles: auto focus, modern coatings and so on. I used it at about f22 for theses shots to give some depth of field. I used a Godox 685 flash with these shots, and all the others that are set to a small stop. The flash also allows me to hand hold the camera for these shots.

Nikkor 55 f2.8 Micro at f16

This is a lens that is probably about 30 years old. Manual focus, but otherwise quite modern. As with the 60mm Micro, this lens is really designed for this kind of work. Once again, used the Godox flash.

Medical Nikkor at f22

This is a special purpose lens from Nikon. Designed for shooting surgery. I think mine was made around 1980. The lens does not focus, instead you change out the front elements of the lens to get the reproduction ratio you want, then move in and out to get the image sharp. In this case I used the life size element so that the flowers were actual size on the sensor. Larger here of course. While the lens has a built-in ring light, I find it much easier to use the Godox. This lens is weird, but it’s fun.

Vivitar 90-180 Series 1 Flat Field Zoom at f22 (180mm)

One of my favorite lenses. Designed for Vivitar back in the 1970s when they wanted to make high quality lenses. Really designed to be a technical lens, for copy work, product work, macro work and even surgery. Heavy and a little awkward, but very sharp. Since it focuses to infinity and has zoom for the focal length this lens is often in my camera bag. Used the Godox flash again.

Zeiss Luminar 63mm at T2 and T4

T2 and T4 are aperture settings, like f-stops, but used in micro work. In this case depth of field is practically non-existent. This is basically a microscope lens deigned for large format photography. So, it’s a little weird. This, and the next lens, also a Luminar, are the closest things I used for this project. I mounted the lens with Nikon K-rings to give me enough distance between the lens and the sensor. There is no way to use this lens at infinity. It has no internal focusing. There are ways to mount regular microscope lenses onto your camera, but they don’t have a diaphragm. This lens is difficult to work with.

Zeiss Luminar 25mm at T2

Similar to the 63mm Luminar, but closer and even more difficult to work with. Even with the Godox flash, which stops movement, this is a really difficult lens to use hand held. Both this and the 63 were used with the K rings, numbers 2, 3, 4 & 5. The picture shows the K rings.

 

The In-Betweeners?

These lenses aren’t intentionally macro lenses, but they can see close up in a special way. All shots here are made with daylight. I’ve added the 500mm macro Soligor to this group, just because…

Nikkor 55 f1.2

This lens is designed to be let in a lot of light. It’s designed to have NO depth of field. It isn’t designed for macro work. Since this particular lens has some optical problems, including a little fungus, it has a really nice glow in these shots. Used the Nikon K rings to get close.

Nikkor 85 f1.8

I really like this lens. For portrait and street shooting it’s hard to beat. The very wide aperture helps to isolate a subject. And, given a couple of K rings it has a nice look when doing macro work. A good reason to have a couple of the K ring extension tubes in the camera case.

Vivitar 70-150 f3.8

I bought one of these back in the 1970s. I liked the size and weight and functionality. I really liked the price. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. Like a lot of lenses from that time it had a macro setting, not great but a good feature. One reason I put it here is to contrast it with the 90-180 flat field zoom from above. This only has a very limited macro setting, not the continuous focusing of the 90-180. It doesn’t get as close either. It’s just not nearly as good.

500mm Soligor Macro Lens F8

I paid $18 for this lens. I’ve done a bit of work with it. My all-time favorite lens for shooting rattle snakes and other venomous creatures. I’ve also done some nice hummingbirds with it. It’s not perfectly sharp, but it does things at a distance that other lenses won’t. This is a mirror lens, so it’s pretty small and light weight. It is interesting in this case because it flattens out the flowers as a result of being so far away.

The Fuzzy and Fuzzy-Wuzzy Group

All these were done with daylight. I used these lenses wide open to enhance the soft interpretation of these lenses. On some I had to use a higher ISO to enable me to hand hold the camera effectively

Sima SF Lens f2

If you can get this lens cheap, say less than $20. It’s worth buying. It’s all plastic. It mounts on most Dslr cameras using a T-mount adapter. It focuses by pulling the barrel in and out. It is a soft-focus lens; that’s all it’s good for. 100mm focal length and f2, which is a nice choice for portrait. The close-up function didn’t make it more difficult to build, so it will focus very close. Nice for flowers, and also nice for very soft portraits.

Lomography Achromat 64mm f2.9

This is the only gold-plated lens I own. Hey, it’s made in Russia, so who knows. The lens is designed after the very early lenses used by Daguerreotypists. It does have a very nice soft look. I used it with a couple of K rings to get close. I’ve also used it with a 1.4 teleconverter, which I think makes it a better portrait lens. It creates a nice glow in these shots. It comes with some Waterhouse stops which allow you to adjust the effect. I used it wide open here, which is f2.9.

Lensbaby 3G f2

I really admire the idea of this lens. A decent 50mm optic mounted on a flexible shaft so that a photographer can adjust the geometry of a shot as well as the focus. By using tilt and swing you can follow the focus of a subject or isolate the subject by throwing the rest of the image way out of focus. It’s a little tricky to use. My own technique with it would benefit from some practice. This lens also has Waterhouse stops you can use to control the effect.

Close up lenses

These are simple single element meniscus lenses used like reading glasses to allow a lens to focus closer. They were very popular when I was a young photographer. Used less now. In this case I used two of the #4 of the close-up lenses to build a lens that worked on its own, without a regular camera lens. I need to do a whole blog post on this, but I did do a magazine article a few years about using these lenses with a view camera. Check it out here:  www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/LensAssembly.pdf

Diopter Lens on bellows wide open

This has a focal length of about 125mm assembled with two +4 diopter lenses. The group mounts on a Nikon bellows unit so that you can focus it. Fun!

Diopter Lens on Bellows with custom stop

Same lens as above but I used a stop with several hole in it in front of the lens. This gives a little depth of filed and a glow like a soft-focus lens. At least I think so. I’ve included a picture of the lens with the custom stop mounted on a bellows unit.

If you got this far, THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION. If you’d like to let me know what you think please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com

 

A few links

Siskinphoto.Home

Introduction Page

Monument Valley

Taos Pueblo

Night Sky

Flowers

Monastery Road

Petroglyphs

Rock

Ice and Snow

Tsankawi

I did a large show when I was still in Indianapolis called Courting Chaos. The link will take you to the pages which describe the work and its evolution. These images are, well, chaotic and many of them are nudes. I hope you’ll find it interesting.

Links to my books, still available at Amazon!

November 13, 2022

Ice and Snow

At 32º Fahrenheit (0º Celsius) something magical happens to water: it crystalizes. Of course, we often don’t’ see the individual crystals; we just see snow, ice, hail and wintery mix-and it’s often annoying. However, if you look closely, it’s beautiful. One of my favorite things to do with cameras is to look closely, very closely. With winter about to set in here I thought I’d share some snow and ice on this page.

I have a lot of really strange gear for looking closely. The most normal lens I use is a Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro. The others include a Vivitar 90-180 Series 1 flat field lens, a Medical Nikkor, two Zeiss Luminars (the 25mm and the 63mm) and a bunch of microscope lenses. I also have bellows, extension tubes and a pile of adapters, so I have the tools to look at the very small. I used to use large format cameras to do this work, but new digital cameras, particularly the Nikon D-850 make the work easier and better! If you’re interested you can find an article I did, some years ago, on photo microscopy using this link: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/microscope.pdf. I really enjoy the challenges of using this gear and hope that will enjoy the images I’ve found.

As you might imagine I’d prefer that these pages don’t get filled with a great deal of text. If you’d like information about a specific image, please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com and I’ll let you know what I know. Of course, if you have specific requests about an image you’d like to purchase please use the same address. If you’d like to go ahead and purchase an image, please use the Paypal link below and give me the browser link to the image and your shipping address.




I am also trying a couple of things that will give people an opportunity to support this work. While I am fortunate to have enough money to continue to do this work, some things are pretty expensive. For instance 11×14 film is hard to get and costs about $300 for just 25 shots and a 120 roll of Ilford Delta 400 is close to $9. I have put in a link to Roberts Camera/Used Photo Pro that may get me a few dollars. I’ve bought a bunch of my used cameras from Used Photo Pro. They’ve been great! Roberts, basically the same place, is one of my go to suppliers for film. When I was living in Indianapolis their store was just a couple of blocks from my studio. So, I know them well enough to really recommend them. If you want to help me out, please use the link below to check out their stuff.


A few linksSiskinphoto.HomeIntroduction Page

Monument Valley

Taos Pueblo

Night Sky

Flowers

Monastery Road

Petroglyphs

Rock

Ice and Snow

Tsankawi

I did a large show when I was still in Indianapolis called Courting Chaos. The link will take you to the pages which describe the work and its evolution. These images are, well, chaotic and many of them are nudes. I hope you’ll find it interesting.

Links to my books, still available at Amazon!

March 26, 2021

Hair Goo with the Microscope

Filed under: Fine Art,Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 12:58 pm

Another image of hair care product from Jerome Russel. DSC2978

This is a picture of a hair care product from Jerome Russel. This product would put multicolored streamers into the hair. Jerome Russel was a client about 20 years ago, so I wouldn’t recommend putting this particular batch of stuff onto your hair, but it looks great through the microscope. I used two captures and focus stacking to make this shot. For more on using the microscope check out this post: https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=4421  Thanks for your interest and support!

I am now offering prints of many of these images. If the caption has an index code like DSC1234 you can buy a print! Right now, all prints are set to fit on an 11×14 inch piece of paper. If the image is too thin it will have white paper on the sides. I am printing with an archival ink/paper combination. Prints are shipped by USPS priority mail to anywhere in the US that’s covered by Priority Mail service. The price is $75 for the first print and $60 for each additional print ordered at the same time. Please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com and include index code and your address. I will send you a PayPal request to arrange payment. I will be adding old and new images to this service. If you see an image on my site you would like to purchase please tell me where you found it and I’ll try to make it available to you. Thanks for your support!

And my books!
Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

https://amzn.to/3tH5Dp9

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

https://amzn.to/3c8nLlU

March 22, 2021

Photography Through The Microscope!

Beginning with this post I am going to make prints of some of the images on my blog available. More information is posted at the end of this blog. Thanks for your support

Watch face DSC-2184

In the book Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance the author (Robert M. Pirsig) quotes an instruction booklet, that said “assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.” Macro and micro photography require that your peace of mind increase in direct proportion to the reduction in the size of the object you are photographing. It gets more difficult, and it requires more patience, as you get closer.

butterfly wing DSC-2184

Most people approach macro photography by purchasing some sort of macro lens which enables them to reproduce picture of an object at perhaps one quarter the size of the object in real life on the sensor of their camera, maybe even bigger.  So, one quarter reproduction means that if you had a 25 cent piece, a quarter in US language, you could take a picture four of them and stacked across the short distance of a full frame sensor sensor. And they would fit. The quarter is an inch wide and a full frame sensor is an inch wide (and an inch and a half long). If the quarter filled a full frame sensor it would be a 1:1 capture, or life size.

watch part  DSC2146

Macro photography is occasionally discussed in terms of where it begins and where it’s simply a close-up. I’m not sure that that’s terribly useful, but, when you are less than three feet from your subject with a more or less normal lens, you’re pretty close and it isn’t necessarily difficult to make that picture, depending upon the equipment you’re using. As you get within less than an inch of your subject it gets to be extremely difficult to shoot, and when you are within one or two millimeters of your subject, it becomes almost impossibly difficult to photograph. What I’m going to explain here is photography with the microscope, which is generally photography within less than an inch of the subject.

hair gel  _DSC2073

I will discuss other ways of doing close-up work in other postings. This posting is concerned with very, very close microscope work. This is not the usual way I approach this subject: in the past I’ve discussed macro photography and built up to micro and microscopic photography. That might make more sense. However, I’ve recently posted a lot of photographs made with the microscope, and so I hope that many people might be interested if I start there.

Leitz Microscope

The first thing about the microscope is to understand that the actual equipment that you need to do this kind of photography is easier to get, and less expensive, than you might think it would be. That’s important because one of the things I would hope that this discussion does is to encourage you to try this kind of micro photography or microscopy if you want to be more formal.

Leitz Microscope set-up

Before I write about the individual components of the camera/microscope combination, I’d like to give an overview of the set-up, from top to bottom. At the top is a digital SLR, the currently available cameras would be good for this. Next is a T-mount (more below) which connects the camera lens mount to a microscope adapter. This adapter is basically a hollow tube that fits between the camera and the eyepiece tube. The eyepiece is in the eyepiece tube, and it’s the first part for the optical system. The eyepiece tube is connected to the microscope head, where the lens or lenses are mounted. That lens is called the objective lens and it is the second part of the optical system. Below the objective lens is the stage, which is where you’ll place your subject. Under the stage there will often be an iris/condenser device, which can be used to change the quality of the light coming through the subject. Probably most scopes have a mirror below the condenser, but a few will have a light source. I think a mirror is more useful. At the bottom is the base, which is usually heavy to keep the whole thing stable.C14 The condenser, it helps to focus the light onto the subject

The large wheel is course focus and the small one is fine focus. They are often set up this way on modern scopes

The condenser, it helps to focus the light onto the subject.

A decent student grade microscope can be had for around a hundred and fifty dollars. This will do the job. Of course, you can spend much more on a microscope, but since you are not trying to accurately reproduce pictures of cell division or tiny crystalline structures (at least I’m hoping you’re not) a student grade microscope is a good choice. A student grade scope has course focusing and fine focusing, two separate knobs. It takes standard interchangeable eyepieces and interchangeable objective lenses with a standard thread. I’ll put a link to a student scope, and the rest of the stuff, at the end of the post.

Objective lenses on Lens turret

Eyepiece

In order to understand the reproduction ratio of a microscope for viewing it’s pretty simple. The eyepiece and the objective lens have numbers for their power, say 10x or 4x. Multiply the two numbers and you have the power of the system. So, if you have a 4X objective and 10X eyepiece, you would be viewing at 40 times life size, which is a nice range to work in. I’m not actually sure that this is exactly the power on your camera sensor, but whatever it is you’re damn close. When you make a print of the capture or reproduce it on your computer screen it gets larger still. So, you are frequently looking at things that may be a hundred, two hundred maybe even three hundred times life size on your computer screen, which is pretty impressive.

Microscope Adapter and T-mount

The adapters that you need to do this, in addition to the scope, are first a microscope adapter. This fits around the eyepiece tube on a standard microscope. Is available for less than $40. Surplus shed would be a good place to start looking for them. In addition, you will need a T-mount adapter. T-mount was an early interchangeable lens mount that is still used today. A T-mount lens could fit onto cameras with several different lens mounts, if you used the right adapter. And it remained unchanged and in use pretty much to this day. There are mounts for most current cameras, even mirrorless. T-mount is also used for telescopes and some other optical systems. You can also get old mirror lenses that use t-mount adapters. They can be a lot of fun. T-mounts are available from Surplus Shed and B&H Photo and any of a variety of suppliers.

The camera on top of the scope

Microscope and T-mount attached. They are screwed together

The microscope adapter is two pieces. It’s easier to mount the small piece on the scope and mount the larger piece onto the camera and then put them together on top of the scope.

You should start with the microscope arranged vertically. Most of the student grade microscopes, in fact, I think all of them, will tilt backwards to make it easier to sit and view your subject. Unfortunately, if you mount your camera on the microscope in this way, it will probably fall off the microscope and that would be a bad thing. So, you’ll set up the microscope vertically. Important safety tip. It is also very important to set the camera to use the self-timer. If you trigger the camera directly with the shutter release you will shake the camera and get fuzzy pictures. You could also use a remote release, but the self-timer works very well for microscope work.

Microscope lenses- Shown are a 4X Plan, a 25mm Zeiss Luminar and a Spencer 10X. This is the group I’ll usually put onto the scope.

I would always start with a 4X objective lens. I say this because one of the problems that you’ll get into, as I mentioned earlier, is the closer you get to your subject the more difficult it is to manage taking a picture of the subject. With a 4X objective lens, the lens will end up being between a quarter and three-quarters of an inch from your subject. That gives you just enough room to light the subject from above. It also gives you room to put a filter on the lens; it gives you room to do a whole lot of things. A 10X lens will be less than 3 millimeters from your subject, which makes it impossible, or close to impossible, to light your subject from above. You’ll only be able to work with transparent subjects with the 10X or more powerful lens. It’s more difficult to manage the focusing or positioning with the 10X lens. When a professional microscopist uses a 100X lens she/he will usually add oil to the top of the subject and then put the lens into the oil. There’s less reflectivity if you do this. You would only be able to photograph transparent subjects with light transmitted from below the stage. I have not tried to do this, and, unless I find some transparent subject that seems absolutely compelling to me, I am unlikely to try it in the future.

Eyepieces, Shown are a Leitz 6x and 10X and a Wollensak 15X and 20X

One of the things that may not come with a student-grade microscope is multiple eyepieces. And this is one of the things that you might very much want for photo microscopy such as I do. Since it’s so difficult to use more powerful objective lenses, you may find yourself wanting to change the eyepiece to change the power of the scope. Eye pieces come in a variety of strengths. I own a 4X eyepiece, a 10x eyepiece, a 15x eyepiece and a 20x eyepiece, which gives me some variety of reproduction powers. Surplus shed carries a number of different eyepieces and they would be a good place to start looking for eyepieces. A student grade microscope usually comes with a 10X eyepiece and that is a good place to start. Neither standard eyepieces or objective lenses are terribly expensive, compared to camera lenses. There are some special purpose objective lenses if you’d like an upgrade. If you find a PLAN objective lens it will be sharper than the lenses that come with most scopes. The biggest difference might be that an inexpensive objective lens will be more likely to be fuzzy at the sides of your image.

Geared stage

Most student microscopes have clips which will hold down a regular microscope slide. Then you position the slide, or other subject by moving it with your fingers under the scope. This is the biggest problem with inexpensive microscopes. Better scopes have a geared stage to move the subject around under the scope. If you really enjoy photo microscopy you might want to get a scope which has gears to control the position of the subject.

Lowell Pro light with Barn Doors

Lowel Pro light

The next thing you will need is a light source. Most student-grade microscopes and in fact most fancy microscopes only have a mirror below the lens. Most scopes also have a condenser between the mirror and the stage which changes the spread of the light that you’re using. I find that the condenser is not terribly useful to the way I approach microscopy, but you may find it helpful. Some student grade microscopes will not have a condenser. The actual light source that you use can be something as simple as a desk lamp or even the room light. And that will work very acceptably for an awful lot of work that you might do with the microscope. Look for a lamp that has a continuous spectrum or perhaps an LED light source. Stay away from fluorescent light sources because the spectrum can make it very difficult to get a true color reproduction or can change the color reproductions in unexpected ways. I find that I rarely look for accurate color in micro photography, especially because the images aren’t things we can usually see with the unaided eye. Often, I will use the 3200º Kelvin quartz light and either not compensate for the warm color shift of compensate in Adobe RAW when I open the image. A small light source gives you more control than a broad light source. At this point I am using a Lowel PRO quartz light, which provides much more light than any desk lamp. I like this a lot, but it’s not available new, there are generally several of them on eBay pretty inexpensively. Lowel still makes several more powerful quartz lights, like the Lowel Omni or Tota quartz light but these might be too hot for microscope work (they do get extremely hot).  A bright light source is especially important when I start to filter or modify the light because I will still have enough light to actually see the subject. Even without a filter it’s dark through a microscope; more so when the light has to go through the camera and into the viewfinder, after it leaves the microscope eyepiece. The next problem is to position the light source. The Lowel PRO quartz light can be attached to a regular light stand mount or it can be attached to a tripod mount. This enables you to use a ball head or another tripod head to position your lamp in relationship to your subject. This light also has barn doors which give you more control over the light. You can also move the microscope mirror which will help position the light; that is if you are lighting your subject from bellow. If you’re using a 4x objective lens you can also light a subject from above, which makes positioning the Lowel PRO light with a tripod head even more helpful. You can also use a strobe to light, even a dedicated camera flash. This can increase sharpness, because camera shake can be a problem, BUT, it’s very difficult to be sure what your subject will look like when you take the picture. Also, you’ll still need a bright light to focus.

The 4X lens focused on a feather. You have a good amount of room between the lens and the subject.

If you are using the 4X objective lens you will find that most of the focusing can be achieved with the course focus wheel on your scope. The fine focus wheel is useful when you try to use that 10X lens. You will also find that the objective lens will stay at about the same distance from you subjects, so if you get a sense of that distance you can set the scope at about the right distance before you look through the camera. Your actual focus is achieved by looking through the camera viewfinder. Since your microscope is set up vertically, it may help to place the scope on a low table or get something to help you stand above the scope. As you might imagine depth of field, holding things at different distances form the lens in acceptable focus, doesn’t really exist with microscopes. With few exceptions, notably Zeiss Luminar lenses, microscope lenses do not have diaphragms, so there is no way to adjust depth of field, that is if you had any… What you can do is use Photoshop to do focus stacking. In order to do this, you need to take a several pictures at different focus points. Photoshop will enable you to combine these images into a single image with better focus. This can be a very helpful technique. While it is outside the scope of this particular post you will find that there are plenty of tutorials on line. Or, you could wait for me to do a post about modifying micro images in Photoshop. If you do take images for photo stacking, you’ll want to take them at the same exposure.

Image without focus stacking

Image with focus stacking DSC2130

When I first worked with high magnification optical systems exposure was very difficult to calculate. I had to compensate for long bellows extension on the view camera as well as reciprocity failure form the long exposure times. It is still astonishing to me how much easier it is to get a great exposure with a digital camera. If you set your camera on aperture preferred, you’ll get a good exposure. You may want to add exposure compensation correction, if you want a darker or lighter exposure. You might want to see what an image looks like at different settings, just to get a better feel for how you can interpret your subject. Of course, you can also do a lot of interpretation after you capture the image in photoshop. These changes in exposure calculation are perhaps the biggest improvement in micro photography that I’ve seen in 40 years. The massive improvement in the amount of information that a sensor records, compared to 35mm film, is also very significant. I used to do micro photography with large format cameras and transparency film, which was really quite difficult.

Sodium Thiosulfate

As you look at the pictures of the set-up and the various tools I use, you might want to begin thinking about subjects. I’ve recently done some nice work with old watches and some shiny goo meant for hair. Jerome Russel used to be a client and they made some very shiny hair care products with glitter and other reflective materials. I’ve included shots of both here.

Watch Parts

Old Watch Parts DSC2210

Old Watch Parts DSC2207

Jerome Russel Hair stuff:

Hair goo-focus stacking DSC2069

Hair goo-focus stacking DSC2061

Hair goo-file heavily modified in Photoshop DSC2058

Of course, a lot of things have interesting colors. Below are a couple of shots of dried Selenium toner, which is used in the wet darkroom to add color to B&W prints.

Selenium Toner DSC1999

Selenium Toner-file heavily modified in Photoshop DSC2000

Let’s not forget living things. These are a couple of pictures of butterfly wings. Bet you didn’t visualize them looking like this.

Butterfly wing DSC2050

Butterfly wing DSC2046

I mentioned filters above. There’s a lot of science behind this trick, but I’m going to cut direct to the chase. Put certain transparent materials, things like plastics and sodium thiosulfate (B&W fixer from the wet darkroom) between two polarizing filters. As you rotate one of the filters colors will start to appear. FUN! But, as I mentioned above, you need a lot of light. These shots are of a plastic prop ice cube. You can get interesting results, but you’ll need to experiment. Frankly all of photo microscopy requires an experimental attitude.

Plastic Prop Ice Cube-Dual Polarization

Sodium thiosulfate, fixer in the B&W darkroom-Dual Polarization DSC2025

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I am now offering prints of many of these images. If the caption has an index code like DSC1234 you can buy a print! Right now, all prints are set to fit on an 11×14 inch piece of paper. If the image is too thin it will have white paper on the sides. I am printing with an archival ink/paper combination. Prints are shipped by USPS priority mail to anywhere in the US that’s covered by Priority Mail service. The price is $75 for the first print and $60 for each additional print ordered at the same time. Please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com and include index code and your address. I will send you a PayPal request to arrange payment. I will be adding old and new images to this service. If you see an image on my site you would like to purchase please tell me where you found it and I’ll try to make it available to you. Thanks for your support!

A few links to the items mentioned in the post:

Student scope:

https://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/T1480D.html

Microscope adapter:

https://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/M1573D.html

Sony T-mount:

https://amzn.to/3s7xGOa

Nikon T-mount:

https://amzn.to/312M2DC

Canon T-mount

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/261256-REG/Celestron_93419_T_Mount_SLR_Camera_Adapter.html

And my books!
Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

https://amzn.to/3tH5Dp9

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

https://amzn.to/3c8nLlU

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:
https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3005
https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=2954
https://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:
https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=424
https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=415
https://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=405
https://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.

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