View Full Version : Large Format Macro experiment

8-Sep-2013, 21:11
Last year I have started taking photos of berries ( tiny little fruits) for a conceptual project which can be related to the photo animation "Powers of Ten" . I have built a camera by attaching two 4x5 cameras and I got an extension about 80 cm's to get a close up photo of a blueberry filling the frame of 4x5 film, it is way way more than 1:1 ratio. But my challenge wasn't technical to start with but pretty much related to scale and perception. But once you start experimenting with such things you cannot avoid technical challenges which is sometimes fun. As for the details I have been using two Linhof cameras broken apart and reassembled to get a 80 cm's long camera with 150 lens . My aperture was around F11 and I was working with strobes firing once. The depth of field came up really shallow as expected. Although I liked the soft results with a very shallow depth of field I am still looking for a better option to bring this project further. And yes I am looking for your recommendations.

After a research I came across to Apo Macro Sironar lenses, but these beautifully made and extremely expensive lenses do not make sense for someone who is simply experimenting with the size of the things in the universe. If you have some good recommendations for my experiment I will never forget your name ...


Kirk Fry
8-Sep-2013, 21:21
So take multiple shots at slightly different focal planes and glue the sharp images together in Photoshop. Slice your way though the fruit. KF

8-Sep-2013, 21:22
One cheap possibility would be to use the Cokin close up filters mated to the appropriate mounting frame and ring for your lens. I can't speak for the image quality as I've never tried these on large format, but they do make them in large sizes with the proper mounts for large format lenses. One benefit would be that those will not change exposure, but will graphically change magnification. If I understand it correctly, the greater the magnification of the filter (strengths are 1,2,and 3 power) the more they would produce variables in the qualities of the image such as edge sharpness issues on three dimensional objects , but these are so inexpensive on the bay anymore that it would be a pretty cheap experiment.

8-Sep-2013, 22:45
Have you tried using a lens designed for use with an enlarger? But mount it backward - the back end of the lens that normally faces film would be facing your subject & the front of the lens would face your camera.

Also instead of trying to focus with the lens, move the subject.

Jim Jones
9-Sep-2013, 07:52
Kirk's suggestion may be the most practical for simulating great depth of field. Using different or top quality lenses is still limited by optical physics. Even fairly wide apertures limit sharpness due to diffraction. Stopping down for more depth of field only increases this problem. You just can't have sharp micro-photography with great depth of field with one simple exposure. A scanning electron microscope uses another approach that yields beautiful monochrome images, but few people have access to one.

There is one way that people with good fabrication skills can accomplish some of what the OP desires. It is using a very narrow band of side illumination in the plane on which the camera is focused, and moving the subject through that plane during a long exposure. There is a name (which I've forgotten) for such photography. Perhaps a google search can provide more detailed information.

9-Sep-2013, 08:47
There is a freeware software program called CombineZP that is popular with amateur microscopists. It automates the process of combining the in-focus portions of each image in a stack of images. Microscope objectives have depths of field measured in microns, so an image stacking program is very useful for getting everything in the visual field in focus in one image. It is also used for macro photography. I downloaded it early this year and used it to combine a stack of photomicrographs.

If you google the name, the website where you can download it should be one of the first 10 hits.

9-Sep-2013, 17:15
Thank you so much for all your comments. I'll try first the enlarger lens although I am not sure about how to mount it on a lens board and later close up lens filters. I guess I'll leave the digital production as a last option since I'll be doing traditional fibre prints.
If I can get a good result from a digital negative for fibre print I'll try that one as well.

Tracy Storer
10-Sep-2013, 17:32
I use apo-enlarging lenses reverse-mounted. Schneider makes(made) an adapter ring that screws into the front of a Copal #1, and I taped this to a step-up ring on the front of my enlarging lens. Voila-reverse-mounted, with synced shutter.
Now you just need stronger strobes to stop down and make your exposure in 1 pop, or do "multiple pops".