Gear for Flower Photography: Accessories
So if this isn't getting you close enough, you need some accessories to add to your lenses and we're gonna talk about that rather than buying a new lens. First thing I want to talk about are extension tubes. And extension tubes are hollow rings that go between your lens and your camera. Mine are Kenko. I like them very much and they come in three different sizes and I always start with the smallest size. It's a hollow ring so you don't have to worry about bad glass or anything like that. And that just goes between your lens and your camera. So this is 12 millimeter. There's a 20, a 36. And then you can combine them. You can put the small one with the medium, the medium with the large. There are seven different options that you can do to get closer. So you could take that lens, that 50 millimeter lens, and get much closer to your subject by just adding an extension tube. And I think they're about 100 dollars. It's not like buying a whole new lens. So I would always suggest if you feel l...
ike you can't get close enough, try extension tubes first before you make a big purchase. So here's my 50 millimeter lens at f/ with no extension tubes. That's as close as I could get. And here it is with the 12 millimeter, the smallest one. That's quite a difference. Let's go back; from that to that. And then if I add the medium tube, I'm here. All at f/8; I have not changed my aperture. And the largest tube. Notice what also happens is that you reduce depth of field when you add a tube. So you have to think about that and compensate for that. So you might need to stop down to a much smaller aperture to get as much in focus as you did without the tube. So watch how there's a little less in focus every time. And that's just as close as I could get with the largest tube. I didn't stack them. That's just with the individual tubes. So you could get just a small curve if you'd stack probably just two together. You wouldn't even need all three. And here, again, 50 millimeter f/ but here's all three tubes. So, you know, this is just... I think this is kind of boring. It's just a plain shot of a peony. But look what getting close can do. It can create a much more artistic shot, but also that's also at f/ and look how little depth of field that I have now. So you always have to think about that when you're putting a macro accessory on, is that you might need to have more depth of field than you had planned. You can also use close up filters and macro diopters. They just are glass rings and just screw right onto the end of your lens. You can get higher quality individual ones, you just need to know your thread size. Or you can get inexpensive packs of four different ones. And I use these with my Lensbabies to get close. And this is the Lensbaby Soft Focus with the plus 10 macro attachment that I just showed you. So I could keep the overall softness, but I could get in close to make that one drop a focal point. Other accessories that you can use. Let's talk about these. This one is called The Stick. Let's start with the The Plamp. (laughs) And you can attach one end to your tripod or to a branch of a tree, a stick, anything, and this part to your flower. So what you could do with this is you could attach it instead to a distracting element that you wanted to move out of a scene. You could attach it to a flower that you wanted to add to the background as sort of an echo flower in the background. Or you could just use it to keep your stem still in a windy situation. And these are great. This is The Stick and it works in a similar way except you can stick this into the ground so that you don't have to be using your tripod or anything. And then use this in the same way. Just gently clip onto the flower and it won't cause damage. Move things into the scene, move things out of the scene. Also, you can use it to hold your diffuser or your reflector if you don't have an assistant, which I never have an assistant, so (laughs) it works really well. The only issue with these is that they're expensive. So I came up with a way to make my own and I made two of these for five dollars. So there are these little clips that you can buy at the dollar store. These were a dollar for those two. And this is called a quick strip and you get them at hardware stores. They're for hanging things in garages and that sort of thing, but it's really stiff and it works as well. And like I said, it's under five dollars. And I can make a base because it's so stiff that it will just stay flat on the ground, and then use it in the same way; pulling things in, pulling things out. It's great for moving distractions out of your scene. And there it is all put together and I'm using it to diffuse light in my garden, but you can see I didn't even have to attach the base to anything because it's stiff enough to just lay flat. Those are really handy. And here I used it to keep the flower steady. I already had soft light and a little bit of a breeze. So I attached it to the tulip to keep that steady. The other thing that I use a lot are clothespins. I use them individually and then my favorite way is to glue two together like this. And then you would attach part of the clothespin to it could be the stem of your flower, it could be the stem of a distraction. And you attach this part to something over here. So you grab onto that distraction and you're pulling it out. And they cost pennies. And I just glued them together. I have them in large sizes and I have them in small sizes. And then I have this set up as well. Two glued together this way. Depending on what I need to move out of the way. And with the small. And they're my favorite thing to have in my bag. And let me show you how I use them. So I was at the Botanical Gardens two weeks ago near my house and I saw this beautiful peony. It had a lot of bugs on it, flying bugs. And it was tucked in in the shade and it was a really bright sunny day. So the first thing that I did was take my double clothespins and pulled gently. Pulled those branches away to get to the flower and you can see I also blew away the bugs. (laughs) I don't usually use brushes. I know people keep small paintbrushes in their bags. You just blow them away and you usually have a couple of minutes before they come back. So that I could get the light on it. And here's my shot. So I went from that to that with just clothespins and moving some bugs out of the way. So you definitely need some clothespins in your bag. The other thing that I like to use is a Flower Pod and it's made by a guy called Les Saucier. And I'll have links for everything for you in a PDF to go along with the class. But I call this my assistant in a bag. And it's three parts. It's a mini tripod with telescoping legs and then this part clicks on with a magnet. And I can make it as tall as I need to make it and put my diffuser or my reflector in here at any angle so that I don't need an assistant and I can soften the light by myself. It also comes with another magnetic piece so that you can use it stuck in the ground as well. This was the older model and I like it best. He's just come out with a new model, which is just this. And you have to attach it. It'll thread to a tripod. You could pick up a really inexpensive video tripod and use it with that or even I use it more for lower shots with a GorillaPod and it just screws right onto there and I can do flowers that closer to the ground; add light or diffuse light, whichever I need. And then these are just handy things to have. I found these in the marine store. My husband is a lobster man. I spend a lot of time in marine stores. And these are great when there's a distraction that you could easily pull out of the frame. So I just bend it, loop it around, and pull that distraction right out. Very simple. It's small, lightweight, easy to keep in your bag. Okay now this is the, like I said, the older Flower Pod and here's how I use the newer one. That's with my GorillaPod. In my bag. I want to talk about what I bring to a garden and as you can see by this picture, there's one thing you don't see me using and that's a tripod. I don't shoot my flowers with a tripod unless I'm shooting in the house, low light, and I want deep depth of field. And I always use it for landscapes. I just don't use if for flowers. Generally there's plenty of light. My knees and elbows can keep me pretty steady, but if I had any trouble with focus or I am not able to hand hold anymore, I'll be on a tripod really fast. So if you can't, not everybody can do that, so I'm not saying you don't need a tripod because you very well might. So if you're not getting the sharpness that you want or you're trying to shoot at a small aperture with not a lot of shutter speed, you definitely need to be on a tripod. And I travel light when I go to a garden. I don't take your typical backpack or bag. This is actually a cooler bag that I also got at the marine store. It has two zippered compartments and it's waterproof. So I can put my accessories in one side and my lenses in the other and I don't have to carry it on my back. I can put it down in something muddy and I can wipe it off and it works great. And I also always bring a trash bag because often a garden will have been freshly watered and you'll be kneeling in mud or trying to put your bag in mud. And it's just a handy thing to have to protect your gear. So when I'm going to a garden, I'll generally have my 180 millimeter, I'll have my Lensbaby Velvet, my Lensbaby Sweet 50 in the bag with me. And I can shoot pretty much anything I need with that. And I'll also have my assistant in a bag and anything that I need to add macro. Either the extension tubes or the diopters to screw on the end.