Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment, part of Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses.
Earlier, you saw me doing some macro work using a very expensive macro lens on my SLR. You also saw me using a pretty expensive point-and-shoot camera for some macro work. If you've got a Lensbaby, you've got another option. It turns out that the Lensbaby is actually a really good macro solution and a very affordable macro solution if you add a little attachment to it. I want to work on this flower here. There's this really cool-looking flower that's got all this kind of flame-like flower things coming out of it.
And so, I am going to want to be able to get in close and I'm thinking that Lensbaby is going to be cool. Macro images are always shallow depth of field, but with the extra smeary out-of-focus bits with the Lensbaby, I'm thinking that this could end up looking really cool. Now, if you watched the macro chapter, you know one of the critical things about macro is being able to focus in close. So with the normal Lensbaby, I cannot actually focus any closer than this. And so that's hardly a macro shot. I'm really not in very tight there.
Fortunately, the Lensbaby company sells a macro kit that turns your Lensbaby into a nice macro lens. It's, in this case, two little macro lenses that screw onto the front of your Lensbaby. This one says plus 10 macro; the other one zooms out to plus four. I'm going to go with the plus 10 because I want to get in real close. So I just screwed these onto the threads on the front of the Lensbaby. You can see right there that the Lensbaby is threaded in there. Now, note that if you were focused inward, the threads are going to be recessed, and you're probably going to have a difficult time getting in there, so be sure to zoom that out.
And then this just screws right on to the front here, he says, unable to screw it onto the front. There we go. All right! With that there, I'm now macro-ready, and what that means is I'm going to be able to get in real close. I'm going to take the tilt out of the lens. I'm just going to have it set straightforward, and I'm going to get in here. Now, I want deep depth of field in this image. Macro images, because I'm so close, they are always very shallow. So I've put the f/11 aperture in here. That means it's real dark as I'm getting in here. There's not a lot of light in here.
So I have bumped my camera up to ISO 1600, and I know from experience that 1600, 3200, those are very usable ISOs on this camera. So I'm going to get in here and right off the bat, look how much closer I am in. I'm down to just a few inches here. So, this is really getting me into these nice macro distances. And focus, at this point, is really about tiny subtle movements in and out, and it may take you a while to find it and get settled, particularly if the viewfinder is dark. Just to be safe, I'm going to shoot a couple here.
I'm kind of bracketing my focus by moving in and out because the viewfinder is so dark. So, here's what I've got. I like it a lot. I have got a few in my bracketed set that aren't in focus, but this one is, and I like how the stem is just vanishing into that blurry background. Now, vanishing into blurry backgrounds is what the Lensbaby is ideal for, so what happens if I start tilting it around? What if I shift my point of focus to be at the very top and really let that bottom bit smear? I end up with something more like this.
And to be honest, there's not a huge amount of difference there. And I think you're going to find out with most of your macro shots with the Lensbaby; you don't actually pick up a lot of blurring around the edges because your depth of field is already so shallow because you're working at macro distances, so you might as well leave your focus in the center. That's going to give you a larger in-focus area. It's going to be easier to work with when you're into those really tight distances. So, this is a very affordable, very effective macro solution if you've already got a Lensbaby.
So if you think you're interested in macro, before you invest in a lens, if you already have a Lensbaby, I'd pick one of these macro sets and do a little experimenting.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.