Hello Spider!

Hello Spider!

Tech Info: Single exposure using Nikon D300s with 50 mm primse reverse mounted, ISO 200, f/16 for 1/30 sec. YN467 placed camera right and fired with 1/8 of its full power

Starting the year by having some fun with some new toys. Here is a simple shot of a spider, but getting this shot wasn’t that easy at all.

Ok, I’ll admit…I’m not a huge fan of macro work. I do enjoy and like seeing macro shots, but feel its too complicated to try it out. I just don’t have the patience for it. But when you are really tied with work and can’t make much of time for going out, then attempting macro could be viewed as fun … or so I thought.

I had heard about reverse mounting (attaching the lens the other way) a prime lens could provide some really huge magnification and in fact have some really awesome pictures made with that kind of a setup. After some research on the web, found a reverse mount adapter (Fotodiox 52mm reverse macro) for my 50mm prime. Due to my busy schedule these days, I was late in placing the order for it. One of my other friend got it couple of days ago and today I borrowed it for a spider which we had spotted on our way back from a dinner takeout.

The setup is pretty simple (at least in theory) – All you have to do is reverse mount your prime and you have a macro setup. The drawback of this setup is that you loose almost all automatic things from the lens. Focus has to be manual, aperture has to be set in the lens and since its a prime, you have to manually move forward/backward to get things in focus. Also the distance of the subject to the lens is very small and due to the increase magnification you can really get some awesome details of tiny little things around.

So this seemed like a nice idea and I had the perfect opportunity to try it out. By the way, I’ve a Yongnuo YN467 Speedlite with remote triggers added to my gear. How I landed up with them is a left for another post. But I do own it and thought of its use for this macro attempt. So armed with a borrowed reverse mount adapter for my Nikon 50mm prime and the speedlites, I headed back to the location of the spider. This is when the fun became a real pain.

At the location, I setup the reverse mount and tried to see through my viewfinder as to how far I can go to take this shot without disturbing the spider. Apparently it wasn’t that much of a distance. So this ruled out doing any hand-held shots. With the camera mounted on the tripod, the distance was still very far for this setup to work. Just to get something in focus, I had to keep the tripod bent and at a height which is awkward for my back. Still I tried couple of shots without the tripod; holding the flash unit in the left hand and the camera in the other. With shutter speed of 1/30 of second, I couldn’t even imagine getting anything in focus. Add to this was a slight breeze which was just enough for the entire web to move. So I’m holding my flash unit in one hand, camera mounted on the tripod and slightly bent forward, and the same hand used for releasing the shutter button.

I tried couple of shots and they all turned out bad. I would have got the eyes of the spider in focus and just before I release my shutter, either there would be slight movement by me or that light breeze, which would ruin the shot. Another attempt was done with holding my breath and waiting for the breeze to stop and timing that very precise movement was a really really hard. I just gave up on it and this was the last shot. You can see that the eyes are not that much in focus, but I just couldn’t go on further.

You might say, get yourself a set of bellows…and I would have to say “no Sir”. I just can’t justify the cost for that gear. But I would still buy this reverse mount adapter as its cheap and there still might be some use that I can find for it without hurting or putting more strain to my back 🙂

Here is an iPhone pic of the setup. You can barely see the spider in it, but you might just get the idea of what it was like 🙂


Processing: Since some of the folks has requested that I get little more detail in my description of processing the photos, I thought I’ll start with a bulleted list. This might not be the complete thing, but should give you the idea of what I did.

  1. Import the raw image to Adobe Lightroom 2.
  2. Modify the white balance. AUTO WB in the camera doesn’t always get it right.
  3. Increase the recovery slider as there were some tiny spots on the back of the spider which were washed out.
  4. Open the edited raw image in Adobe Photoshop CS4
  5. Added a curves layer for getting some contrast
  6. Resized the image for web
  7. Applied smart sharpen filter for the resized image
  8. Added copyright and saved as jpeg. ( I usually keep the size less than 300kb)
  9. Used Adobe bridge to add more keywords and metadata.
  10. Uploaded it to flickr


2 thoughts on “Hello Spider!

    1. Thanks Hari. I don’t think I’ll get into macro and that lens is really expensive. Since my friend has one, I’ll just borrow it from him whenever I feel like doing something with it 🙂

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