Fantastic. I’ve got my wish! Extension tubes for my Nikon on the way.

Well, yesterday was brilliant. After  a ropy start to the year I found on Ebay the set of extension tubes for my Nikon I never thought I could afford. It took an hour of nail-biting tension to get them, but I won at a price I can afford in the last few minutes and I’m thrilled. From what I’ve read, with my macro zoom lens and these babies I’ll have more than 1:1 macro at my disposal. A whole new world is about to open up to me and I simply can’t wait!!! How exciting!

The mind boggles. Eyes, details of plants, details of spiders and webs, insects and butterflies, frost and even fruit, all macro style. Of course I’ll share some of the results for you once I’ve had a play with them. You never know, I might even get something good enough to put on zazzle products or my website.

Zazzle has kept me pretty busy, and I’ve added today some fire art products that should be online tomorrow. It’s fun designing and especially using images I never thought I would find a way to share with the world.

The fire art is something we can only do when we’re camping on plenty of land. six feet of Kevlar rope is dipped in paraffin and set alight. My partner then whirls it around while I do long exposures and we hope for the best. It’s entertained many people and I’m hoping the images will be popular. Let me know what you think. If you look carefully you can just see a human form in the middle of the fire. Click on the image to enlarge it.

One of our fire art photos


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hitzeman Photography
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 18:57:04

    Looks like a pretty hot (pun intended) idea. Be careful!


    • chriscaff
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 19:25:47

      Thanks Hitzeman. Yes, I’m well back from the flames and my partner is well versed in the art of wielding fire. He wears leather trousers, is stripped to the waist and doused in water.


  2. Todd Actual
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 00:34:36

    Hey Chris. I’ve seen that you like to take macros, do you mind if I ask you a question?

    I can’t justify buying a dedicated macro lens, but I have a 70-210 that takes macros from about 4 feet way and a 28-70 with a macro setting and it’s alot easier to use the telephoto. Assuming the subject is the same apparent size in the frame and you use the same aperture, photographically what is the difference between using one or the other? Basically, I’m asking if there is a significant advantage to getting down on my hands and knees with the camera inches from the subject over taking the same shot from standing up.

    One more: In that fire photo could you have used a flash at the end of the exposure to get the person, or would that “drown” out the fire? Not that you should, it’s an excellent shot, but is it possible. I want to take some slow synch shots of iditarod dog sledders in a few months as they pass us. It’s going to be as dark as pitch and they wear a lamp on their head and I was wondering if I could take a long exposure so the light streaks along the trail and then freeze the team with a flash as they pass. I can see them coming down the frozen river for miles and thought a dwindling, winding stream of light trailing them would look cool. Is that do-able?

    Sorry, I hope you don’t mind me attempting to pick your brain. Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting and for being generally a nice guy.


    • chriscaff
      Jan 11, 2011 @ 15:14:28

      Hi Todd. Your questions are interesting. As I’ve admitted many times, I’m not really a techy, but an artist with a camera, if you will. My qualifications are in art and design but I love the camera! So I’m self taught. That said, fire first. I really can’t answer this one with any accuracy. Flash has a fall off, so distance between you and your subject will make a difference as to how much extra detail you’ll be able to capture. My advice would be to get all your friends running up and down for you with storm lamps or torches and trying what you want to do BEFORE the event, perfecting your technique. As I’ve not tried what you propose, that’s the best I can do really. When I take the fire shots I’m well back from the flames for safety reasons, with a zoom lens and never tried flash. But if you look back on a post I did a while ago of a frozen bird feeder cage the flash did a good job, but you can’t see anything beyond it because the flash only covers a certain range. As for burning out the fire with flash, I would have thought it would reduce the impact a little, but I am guessing. It’s all going to be down to experimentation.
      Now, macro. Zoom macro lenses aren’t true macro, which is 1:1 magnification. Most zoom macro lenses will do 1:2 but that’s not close enough for me. I’ll quote from my favourite macro book, ‘Undertanding Close up Photography’ by Bryan Peterson ISBN 10:0817427198 by Amphoto books. “Focal length ‘over’ mm length of extension tubes equals magnification size. If 50mm ‘over’ 50mm extension tubes equals 50/50 or 1 (1:1, or life size), and we have a 50mm focal length ‘over’ 68mm of extension, that gets 50/68 or 1.36:1-just a bit more that 1.3x life size.’ So extension tubes get you much better magnification than you can achieve with a zoom macro lens. One set of three extension tubes will, in effect, give me seven different macro lenses for the price of one. Because there are no optics involved, quality of image is not reduced provided you have enough light to capture the image, or slow enough shutter speeds and a good tripod to reduce camrea shake and use either mirror lock up with remote shutter release or use shutter delay on your camera (which locks the mirror first then takes the shot). Sorry I’m not more technically savvy, but I hope this helps! Thanks for making me think about this stuff, Todd. BTW I’m female!


      • Todd Actual
        Jan 11, 2011 @ 20:42:58

        My brothers name is Chris so it never occured to me! I’m so sorry. I’ve looked at a bunch of your pictures and stuff and while none of it was manish, none was overtly girly either. It’s good I couldn’t tell right? It means your art doesn’t have a gender bias right? (I’m just fishing for a way to save face now). I’m embarrassed, but I just re-read your About and at least it’s not as plain as day written in black and white. Sheesh, not only do I call a lady a guy, with my luck you’re probably gorgeous too.

        You’re right, I need to practice. I’m thinking someone wearing a head lamp on a bike going dogsled speed (I have just the bike-riding all times of day and night friend in mind). I think the key will be to make sure the flash doesn’t shine on too much white snow. If the flash only shines on the subject and the subject is fairly dark then the flash won’t drown out the headlamp streak at the end of a long exposure. That is my hypothesis anyway. I know you can flash at the end of a long exposure to freeze a moving object and the image will have the blur of motion AND the frozen object (you can even freeze an object within it’s blur of motion multiple times in the same frame with multiple flashes). I’m just wondering if you can do so when the moving object is a light source and still get tracers from it.

        Thanks for spending so much time explaining macro lenses and the ratios and stuff to me. I’m just going to have to get down close and use that other lens and see if it’s worth the trouble.

      • chriscaff
        Jan 11, 2011 @ 20:59:23

        LOL please don’t be embarrassed! No, I’m not gorgeous, I’m past it! 🙂 I don’t declare that I’m female as in this world there are too many people who don’t take women seriously and my name, handily, does not make it obvious!
        It won’t matter how close you get to your subject as your macro lens will only have a set range of foccusing and therefore will only magnify within a certain range. If you want to see how extension tubes work you could gaffa tape a toilet roll between your current lens and the camera. This will give a simlilar effect as an extension tube but obvioulsy won’t be stable, so be careful. It’s the distance between the front and rear lens that increases magnification. Take care Todd and let me know how you get on.

      • Todd Actual
        Jan 11, 2011 @ 21:51:29

        Ah! you idea about the paper tube helped me understand I think. I know when using a telescope if you put a hollow tube behind the eyepiece you increase magnification, but also increase how much light you need. So it’s like that but you put the tube behind the lens of the camera instead. So if with the lens you are using you start with a ratio of 1:2 by adding tubes behind the lens you increase the ratio from there and when you get to a ratio with a bigger front number then you are actually magnifying. It has nothing to do with optics, it’s all in the length. Am I getting it?

        Now I’m wondering if I can convert my telescope camera mount into a lens extension tube, I would just need one more part…

        Thanks Chris.

      • chriscaff
        Jan 11, 2011 @ 22:29:42

        Yes, I think you are. From what I’ve gleaned, extension tubes are an excellent alternative to dedicated macro lenses. Yes, you increase the magnification by adding extra length. Have fun experimenting!

  3. Miss Morgans 365 Days of Photos
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 07:00:40

    Wow, Todd has some good questions that as a beginer Im currious to know the answer to. BTW I love the fire! Its beautiful!


    • chriscaff
      Jan 11, 2011 @ 15:17:08

      Thanks Miss Morgan! There will be more fire images uploaded on Zazzle over the next few days. I’ve taken loads of them, as we’ve done these displays at a number of Camps over the last couple of years.


  4. randywornhole
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 08:53:12

    The fire pictures come out amazing. Its an amazing experience to be there watching it too. The sound of the flaming rope whooshing around is stunning; scary and haunting. Great you and your partner’s passions find a way to cross each other and share.


    • chriscaff
      Jan 11, 2011 @ 15:20:45

      Thankyou Randy. Yep, these displays are always pretty spectacular. I’ll really have to just watch one of these days instead of spending all my time trying to photo the results!


  5. hemlock1981
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 14:16:04

    Excellent capture!


  6. randywornhole
    Jan 12, 2011 @ 16:29:59

    I must have been half asleep when I made my previous comment….can’t beleive I didn’t comment on you using “extension tubes”.
    Whatever helps you get what you want. 🙂


  7. chriscaff
    Jan 12, 2011 @ 17:06:39

    LOL for the camera Randy, for the camera!


  8. dfortyex
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 03:58:04

    Loving the fire art shot! Would loved to see more, haf fun with the tubes!


    • chriscaff
      Jan 13, 2011 @ 19:20:01

      Hi Dfortyex! Thanks. There are a couple more fire shots on zazzle And I will eventually be getting some others out for sale as prints. On my website there are fire art postcards, so you could see those on there. I hope that’s helpful!


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