Friday, April 15, 2011

How-To: Reverse Lens Macro Images

So, the other day, I was trying to figure out how to get some awesome close up shots of the amazing dandelions that have now plagued my back yard. I had learned back in high school (Thank you Mrs. T!) that you can take the lens off and flip it around to make a macro (super close up) lens out of a regular one. I wasnt sure how to go about it with a digital camera, but I did what I know how to do best. I figured it out on the fly! After I had posted a few pictures to a photography group on Facebook, someone had suggested I try a few things. So, let's get to it! (This is my first tutorial so be gentle!)

Things you'll need:
Paper (I used cardstock because it's a little more sturdy than printer paper) 
Pencil to trace your hole
Scissors to cut your hole
Your favorite lens
Your camera body 
Tape (not pictured)
and something to take pictures of! (in this case, a peacock feather) 

Step 1: Get your paper, pencil and lens out. Place the lens just under half way down the piece of paper. Trace around the end of your lens (the part that doesn't touch your camera.)

Step 2: Carefully cut out the circle you drew.

(Some Nikon lenses) 
Do you see that little silver piece of metal sticking up?
Step 3: Take a piece of tape and tape it about half way. 
This is to keep your aperature open. I prefer to have it wide open, 
but that causes some problems with the DoF

Step 4: Carefully tape the Flash diffuser to the lens. 
Either on the front, like this, or behind the paper.

Step 5: Fix your settings!
*For your camera to work without a lens (any camera,) you have to be in Manual mode.
This means your camera does not chose anything (shutter speed, aperature, etc.)

(This is for the Nikon D40 Body) 
Push the Menu button on the left hand side of the body. 
Then down in the Custom Setting Menu, find #14 Built-in Flash. 

Select Built-in Flash and you will come to this page. Select Manual.

 For the image I have posted below, I had my flash set to 1/2 power. 
The smaller the fraction, the less light will be put out. 
The settings of your flash will depend on how much light you have around you. 
I usually keep my power on 1/8 or 1/16 while outside and 1/4 to 1/2 while inside. 

Now for your other settings. These are what I used for the image below, 
but your settings will depend again on your surroundings.
(I just realized I have my white balance on auto... oops) 

Step 6: Carefully hold the lens to the camera body with the larger size of paper sticking up toward your flash.
Every camera body should have a tiny pin sticking up where the lens is locked onto the body. 
I have found it is very helpful if I put the outer ring of my lens, where filters and such go, 
on that tiny pin to help stabilize the lens while I'm shooting.
There are Reverse rings available at for sale.
These rings hold the lens on for you. 

Step 7: Go shoot! I couldn't get a shot of me taking a picture of the peacock feather. 
But here is my final result! :] 

Some tips I have for shooting like this:
I have my focus ring pulled out as far as I can have it and locked it on Auto.
I also try to keep my focal length at 35-55mm, but when I'm wanting the super close up pictures, 
I'll bring it up to 18mm. 

I hope you can understand this tutorial and have fun shooting! 
I would love to see what you end up with!
Leave me comment with the link to what you've done! 
~Heather Frazier

*Edited to add this little note.. I forgot to put that in there.