Large format photographers using cameras with bellows have always had the luxury of being able to adjust the lens and/or sensor plane so they are not parallel. This technique is performed to alter the plane of focus. While a conventionally parallel set-up provides front to back sharpness from a focus point parallel to the sensor, the adjusted lens, swung or tilted, places the focus plane at a different angle. This is a very useful technique for landscape photography, allowing sharp focus from close range to infinity, even at wide open apertures. But it’s also incredibly useful for macro photography. With this in mind Photography Attic has taken a set of BPM camera bellows and modified them to create a versatile set of custom bellows with tilt, swing and also shift options.
The bellows lens and camera platforms are individually mounted on a pair of small ball & socket heads which can be attached to a straight bracket like the one you would use with a flash gun. You can then slide the ball and socket along the flash bracket to extend the bellows increase magnification. And then tilt the front or rear panel to create the new plane of focus.
Here’s an example of the tilted bellows in action. A small 25mm pocket watch has been photographed at an angle. Rather than head on and parallel to the camera lens. The lens was then tilted on the camera bellows set up and as a result the widest aperture of f/2.8 can be used with full front to back sharpness. As a comparison a second shot was taken with the lens set conventionally parallel to the film plane. Notice how the sharpness falls off to the rear.
Another option is to use the swing feature. Here the lens is angled in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction to provide sharer front to back focus on an upright subject.
You can also adjust to provide a combination of both tilt and swing when the subject is not horizontal or vertical.
This process is technically known as the Scheimpflug Principle. If you would like to lean more check out the wikipedia page here: Scheimpflug Principle
You can buy a set of modified bellows with tilt shift here:Custom Tilt Shift Bellows You will also need to buy a bracket to mount them on.
Extension tubes are tubes without any optical elements that you place between the camera and lens of an interchangeable lens camera. They extend the lens so it can focus closer, giving the lens macro capabilities. Some have full automatic couplings so the camera can continue to be used in all its auto and program exposure and focus modes. Some lower priced ones have no couplings, so the camera needs to be used in manual.
Tubes are often sold in sets of three. The set illustrated above has 13mm, 21mm and 31mm extensions, and these can be attached in any combination giving a total of seven different extensions:
- 34mm (13mm+21mm)
- 44mm (13mm+31mm)
- 52mm (21mm+31mm)
- 65mm (13mm+21mm+31mm)
Here a set of three tubes can be seen attached to a Nikon digital SLR camera.
This photograph of a British one pound coin was taken using a nikon camera with a 55mm lens set to infinity and an extension tube added. The smaller coin on the left is with the 13mm and the coin on the right is with the three tubes attached giving 65mm extension. The lens was at f/2.8 to show how shallow depth of field is. When using tubes you either need to use a very small aperture or shoot the subject parallel to the CCD or film plane. Here the coin was at an angle so only a shallow strip across the centre is sharp.
Advantages of using Extension Tubes
Low cost macro
No optical degradation
Disadvantages of using Extension Tubes
Limited magnification variations
Fiddly changing between magnifications
Taking lens off increases risk of dust intrusion
We have a selection of extension tubes in different camera fittings
An amazing selection of snowflake macro photos and a article showing how to photograph snowflakes can be found on Alexey Kljatov’s ChaoticMind blog
If you have an SLR you can reverse your lens on the body using a reverse adaptor, or reverse a lens on a lens using a coupling ring (which has filter threads on both sides), or use extension tubes, close up lenses, macro lens or bellows. We have all these available on PhotographyAttic. If you cant find what you want contact us with specific requests
I’m currently reading about Mindfulness. In a nutshell mindfulness is referred to as the heart of Buddhist meditation. There’s a good introduction here Mindfulness and one paragraph stood out this morning as I prepared to wash the breakfast pots:
When I wash the dishes each evening, I tend to be “in my head” as I’m doing it, thinking about what I have to do, what I’ve done earlier in the day, worrying about future events, or regretful thoughts about the past. Again, my young daughter comes along. “Listen to those bubbles Mummy. They’re fun!” She reminds me often to be more mindful. Washing up is becoming a routine (practice of) mindful activity for me. I notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on my skin, the texture of the bubbles on my skin, and yes, I can hear the bubbles as they softly pop continually. The sounds of the water as I take out and put dishes into the water. The smoothness of the plates, and the texture of the sponge. Just noticing what I might not normally notice.
As enthusiast photographers we tend to notice more than most. We’re always looking out for photographic opportunities so we see things in the landscape, architecture, people, objects, that others miss. It’s a bit like mindfulness from a visual perspective. Today I noticed the bubbles in the freshly filled bowl and grabbed the camera (an Olympus OM-D fitted with 60mm macro lens) It wasn’t long before I’d taken a series of close up abstract shots of the bubbles…and interestingly they reflect the world in a chaotic way.
and now the scene is recorded I can observe the details and enjoy the shapes. Can you spot what looks like a suited figure?