Canon 180mm Macro for Portraits

I praised this lens quite a bit in my last post, but since people are my favorite subjects to photograph, a lens will not win me over unless portraits I produce with it make me happy. The 180mm macro more than delivered on my portrait attempts. It has won the honorable shared first place with my 90mm TS-E for portrait work. The below is my favorite portrait from the week with the 180mm. I’m aware that the photo is not perfect. I should have closed down the aperture to get more of my niece’s face in focus – I seem to run into this closing down the aperture issue with this lens a lot – but I like it very much nonetheless. It certainly helps that my niece is one of the most photogenic children I’ve ever photographed, and the freckles really put the icing over the cake here, but the beauty of the lens is undeniable as well.

(180mm, ISO 250, f/3.5, 1/160 sec)

Canon 180mm 3.5 L Macro and Portraits

My Favorite Macro Shots from My Week with a Rented Canon 180mm 3.5 L Macro Lens

Boy do I love that lens, and boy is it hard to use for macro photography by an inexperienced macro shooter such as myself. But I enjoyed practicing, and I loved it for portraits as well. The lens is so hard to handhold at speeds lower than about 1/250 sec, add to that the relatively small apertures that one needs to use at close distances to get more than a tiny sliver of the image in focus and you have a really hard time getting enough light to reach the sensor unless you bump up the ISO to the point where, with my camera the noise becomes noticeable.

I tried using my camera on tripod, because, presumably you can use slower shutterspeeds when camera shake due to inability to handhold is no longer an issue, but I was completely dumbfounded by that experience. I put my camera on the tripod by our butterfly bush where lots of bugs hang around all the time, set my focus on a cluster of flowers, and waited. Yes, quite a few bugs came along, but they were too fast for the slower shutter speeds to get a clear photo of. Besides, I don’t have the patience to sit on one spot for too long, hoping that a bug will decide to land on a leaf that I’m focused on and sit still at the exactly perfect angle for me to take a photo. Besides, the best angles for each shot are too hard for me to determine before my subjects arrival.

The one thing I didn’t try, and that would have probably been the best solution for me was a macro ringlight. Those things are too darn expensive for somebody like me who only shoots macro occasionally for fun.

Despite all the difficulties, I did end up getting a few decent close-ups.

(180mm, ISO 800, f/9, 1/250 sec)


(180mm, ISO 1000, f/9, 1/250 sec)


The next one looks sort of like a caterpillar, but it’s actually a bee. Apparently bees appear to be really fuzzy from a certain angle close up.

(180mm, ISO 800, f/9, 1/250 sec)


(180mm, ISO 800, f/8, 1/350 sec)


Canon G1 3.3MP Camera

All my kids are into taking photos, even the youngest one. They see me walking around with a camera all the time, so it’s not really surprising I guess. But it also means that I have to get each of them their own camera if I want to avoid having them gram one of mine. My oldest one has gone through a few over the course of the past number of years. My middle child has mostly used my underwater camera lately – heck, it’s meant to withstand a drop from 1.5m, so I’m hoping that it will hold up to a little bit of abuse. My youngest one has had a toy camera, but some of the plastic parts kept on breaking, so I decided to get a new used camera for my middle child and let my baby boy play with the “tough” underwater camera.

My choice of camera for my middle child fell on a very old Canon G1 3.3MP camera. It was introduced in 2000, but it was considered to be a state of the art point and shoot camera at the time. It has full manual controls and you can even attach an external speedlight to it if you wish. This is what it looks like:


I intentionally took this photo with with a cellphone in a not super brightly lit room to show the difference between photos taken with a modern cellphone compared to a nearly two decades old camera (photos to come lower down).

Anyway, the reason for why I chose this old one was that the price ($17 at KEH) was fantastic for the amount of features/manual control you get. My daughter doesn’t really care what camera she is shooting with yet, and I really wanted to try it out myself to see if my assumption that I’ll be able to take perfectly fine photos with it for web posting and small prints is correct. Because I’m a believer that older cameras will be excellent performers in the right hands as long as they have manual controls. I really despise the modern day constant chase after the newest and latest technology. Did I mention that my main camera was released in 2007? 🙂

I had a chance to play with the G1 a bit today, which made me realize that I really need to download the manual to understand how to change some settings, by the way. I have yet to figure out how to change the ISO in the manual setting, or if it’s even possible to change it. So far, every photo I’ve taken in the manual setting seems to show ISO 50 when I look at the file info. The camera presumably also has the ability to manually control focus to some extent, but I’m having trouble figuring it out. Overall I actually really like how the camera feels and handles. And the resulting images are quite nice. Both of these were taken in a relatively dark room with some window light, no post-processing. These are straight out of the camera. There is an amazing amount of detail present despite the low megapixel count. But I already knew that megapixels aren’t everything…



Double Exposure Self Portrait on Film

Tonight I am pretty proud of myself. My very first attempt at double exposure film portrait actually worked out the way I intended it to. At the very end of my most recent studio session that I posted a few digital images from a few days ago, I decided to try out the self timer on my Mamiya 105mm DS lens. We had recently purchased a big stack of board games from a yard sale and among the games was a pin point impression needle art frame. The needles on the frame are made of silver colored shiny metal and I got this idea to use that as one of the two exposures for my double exposure self portrait. Unfortunately the frame is rectangular, while my Mamiya C330f produces square format negatives, so I wasn’t sure exactly how it will work out, but decided to give it a try. There is no autofocus, and at close distances parallax error comes to play with a TLR camera, and it’s very difficult to get your intended shot when you somehow have to place yourself in the frame and get the focus right while not being behind the camera so the whole thing was potentially going to be a flop. The fear of the shoot not working out had caused me to postpone developing the roll of film for a week, but finally my curiosity won, and I developed the film last night.

To my huge surprise, the double exposure turned out better than I could have ever hoped for, and it may just be the image I’m most proud of to date, because of how difficult it was to create. Granted, all the rest of the non-double-exposure images on that roll of film that are shot from a further distance are out-of-focus – but some actually in a good way – but this one I really, really like.

(Mamiya C330f, 105mm 3.5 DS lens, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, developed in Ilford DD-X 1+7 for 7.5 minutes, and scanned with Epson V550)


Canon 180mm 3.5 L Macro

I’ve finally had a chance to play around with a lens I’ve wanted to try for a while now – the Canon 180mm 3.5 L Macro. I’m renting it for a week, and already thinking that I really, really want to own one. It would complete the small lens collection that I have and cover close to any shooting situation I would ever encounter.

We had my brother-in-law’s family visiting this past weekend and I took quite a few photos of everybody having fun in the pool. When I looked at the images on my camera’s LCD screen, I was actually disappointed, thinking that they were all a bit blurry; and, honestly, blaming it on my inability to hold the beast stable enough for getting clear shots rather than on the lens. But then I pulled up the photos on the computer and I was blown away by the sharpness, perfect autofocus, and beautiful contrast and color. I suppose the one drawback of having a camera that was manufactured in 2007 is that the LCD really is not up to par to allow me to judge the quality of the photos based on what it shows.

And then I tried it for macro… And that’s where my troubles began. It truly is a lens that you need to use a tripod with to get most out of the macro shots. I had to bump up my ISO to 800 to make it even remotely hand-holdable for close-ups and even then I couldn’t get the depth of field that I would have wanted while having enough light reach the sensor. But that doesn’t scare me. I still want this beast, even if it means that I need to carry a tripod everywhere, which I prefer not to do.

Here’s my favorite macro that I shot – handheld – yesterday. I would have ideally preferred to shoot it at f/11 or f13, but it is what it is. I like the abstractness of the photo and the detail I was able to capture despite everything.

(180mm, ISO 800, F/7.1, 1/250sec)

Canon 180mm 3.5 L Macro

Underwater Photography Take Two

In early March, I posted a few underwater photos that I took at a waterpark with the Fujifilm XP60 camera that I bought used from Ebay. I was not really crazy about the quality of images and discarded the camera in my head as pretty useless, but I decided to pick it up again yesterday when I went in the pool with the kiddos and I was much happier with the results this time around. The results are still not high quality, but much better than the waterpark photos. Turns out that even the quality of underwater photography is highly dependent on available light. Who would have thought, right? I should have, of course. On a sunny day, outside in the pool, the camera is really not too bad, despite its age and the blemish that mine has on the protective glass over the lens.

Here are two photos of my oldest diving.



And an attempt at an underwater selfie., poorly framed, I might add, but to my defense, I had a very poor understanding of where I was even pointing the camera. Taking that into consideration, it turned out quite well.



Blue Goggles

The photography group on Facebook that I belong to, the one with weekly themes, has a red and/or blue theme this week. I chose to shoot the subject matter that I’m most comfortable with – human beings, specifically my baby boy with his blue goggles. I could have been more creative, of course, but I love this picture of my little man.

(90mm, ISO 1000, f/2.8, 1/60 sec)