B.C. Camp, Day 2: How to take a Macro Shot with Hasselnuts.

The idea behind this tip:

 

When intending to shoot macro pictures on your Hasselblad, you typically need special extenders which allow your lens to shift the focus range — such extenders definitely are good choice if you plan to make macro one of your main photography topics. 

 

Depending on your lens, the focus range can vary; for example the 50mm Distagon can be used for close ups pretty well, but the 80mm Planar is not so good for the purpose.

 

But in case you would like just to experiment with those “dreamy” and detailed shots, there fortunately is a way of getting pretty good results without the need to purchase additional equipment! 

 

Hasseblad is specific because the shutter is built inside of the lens, which means that the lens have to be attached to the camera body all the time — otherwise the shutter won’t fire and you won’t be able to take any pictures with it. BUT! The Hasselnuts allow us something that wouldn’t be otherwise possible: you can detach the lens and shoot with them “handheld”. Even if it may sound rather strange, it’s a big deal because it allows you to manipulate with focus range quite freely. And since we actually use the separate shutter of “Hasselnuts digital back”, we don’t have to worry about the lens shutter synchronisation: the lens shutter stays open all the time.

 

This technique is often used to create characteristic “dreamy” effect: it, of course, employs the change of focus range, but it also - and this is even more important for some filmmakers - allows the side light to get involved which affects the image in quite remarkable way. One of the masters of this technique is British filmmaker James Miller ( https://vimeo.com/millerandmiller ). I love to take advantage of both of those unusual effects. Of course, a macro photography is usually taken in a different way, but there is one aspect I really like on the method I have just described: it’s not just macro you get - the photograph is characterized by remarkably softened light rays which make your final picture really outstanding. 

 

The shooting may seem to be a bit tricky in the beginning, but once you master the focusing procedure, you can enrich the pictures in several other ways and achieve rather unusual results. 

 

I recommend you to use tripod and to make some time just for experimenting - even your kitchen table can be turned into a small studio, just place your camera on the tripod, set some kind of flower in front of it and try to change the surroundings and settings — and see what happens. You can, for example, use black background (A4 paper is in most cases okay)  and illuminate the flower from one side so no shadows will be seen in the picture - they will not reach the black paper and the light will beautifully separate the flower from its surroundings (you can even shoot more flowers in front of the same background and then combine those pictures to so get complete picture of all your flowers in a very nice resolution).

 

We will talk about light later and in greater depth - but let’s mention here that while shooting indoor, it is necessary to give the Hasselnuts enough light. Light is crucial for this kind of shooting and it can dramatically increase the quality of the picture and reveal many details. No one says, however, that it is necessary to have an expensive soft box or something that was originally meant and made as a piece of photography equipment. 

 

Try to look around and I am sure you will find something what can be used as a source of light for your mini studio. Table lamps are perfect as the main light but you can also use phones or small led lights (if you have some) to backlight the flower (hide the light behind it) and it will beautifully highlight the edges. There are many things you can experiment with - and we can’t wait to see your pictures!

Step by step instructions:

 

1. 

Attach the Hasselnuts adapter and any lens to the body (basic 80mm Planar works okay).

 

2. 

Set the lens aperture to the lowest possible number (you may adjust it later but start with this) and set the shutter speed to bulb - “B”.

 

3. 

Set the release to keep the mirror up (move the switch from “O” to “T”).

 

4. 

Wind up the camera.

 

5. 

Carefully remove the lens.

 

6. 

Press the shutter release.

 

SHOOTING

Set the focus on your lens, and than fine focus by moving the camera backward and forward. Try to find the best distance and position for your handheld lens. 

Keep in mind the light coming from the side and try to find setup which suits your choice best. You can dramatically change the contrast and overall feeling of the image just by covering or uncovering the gap between the body and the lens. 

 

I prefer to insert Apple headphones to my iPhone and control shutter through them - it allows me to work more freely without the need to stretch my finger or to attach camera to the tripod. Once you connect headphones to your iPhone, all you have to do is simply press volume button and the shutter will "fire" instantly. 

 

According to my experience, for flowers (and detailed pictures of nature in general) centered composition works best. I recommend you to start experimenting outside - for example with some garden flowers - and during the day. The golden hour can be great but plain daylight works better (at least in the beginning) as it allows you to keep the ISO (chip sensitivity)/noise down and the shutter speed relatively high so that your pictures don't get blurred.

 

AFTER YOU FINISH

After you are done, let the mirror go down by pushing the switch back to “O”, wind up the body and re-attach the lens.

 

EDITS

When shooting trough an unofficial app, you need to rotate the picture and cut of the “black areas”, to do so you can use either the native Photos app or some more sophisticated ones such as Skrwt (I would like to deal with it in a separate post in the future). I also recommend you to download an app such as Snapped (free on the App Store) and play with the shadows.

DON'T HAVE A HASSELNUTS YET?

You can order yours using Amazon.com!

 

TAKE THIS TIP WITH YOU

In case that you would like to take this text on the go we prepared compact formatted version of it for you in PDF and you can download it here: