Sunday, October 31, 2010

Macro photography

For the last few weeks I’ve been borrowing two macro lenses from a friend, and I’m having a blast photographing plants and flowers around the garden. Here are some of my favorites.

Perennial Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Perennial Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Rose leaf sage (Salvia puberula)
Bog sage (Salvia uliginosa)
Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)
Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)
Spider web hens and chicks (Sempervivum arachnoideum)
Tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii)
Quadricolor agave (Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor')
Variegated elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Elepaio’)
Giant farfugium (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’)
Golden lotus banana leaf (Musella lasiocarpa)
White Queen caladium (Caladium bicolor 'White Queen')
Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')
Happy Halloween!


  1. What type of camera do you use, and what were the specs on the macro lenses? I've been considering a macro lens for a while now, as I'm tired of the lower quality photos produced by my point-and-shoot (which I currently use for macro shots).

  2. Alan, I currently use a Canon Rebel T2i. The macro lenses I'm borrowing are the 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM ( and the 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM ( Both focus to 1:1 magnification without requiring extension tubes. The 100mm f/2.8 is still "relatively" affordable at $500 or so, but the 180mm is $1500. The image quality is superb on both of them. Depth of field (or lack thereof) can be a real issue with the 180mm but I love the beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds its focal length produces. I'm telling myself NOT to get addicted to these lenses because I need to give them back in a month :-).

    Using a point-and-shoot for macro works a lot of the time, as you know, but I often find the background to be very distracting because it's only a little out of focus, not completely.

    I just wish there were a cheaper way to get superb macro quality for less!

  3. That's the thing about lenses: you (usually) get what you pay for. The good ones are more expensive than the camera and get hard to justify. If you've got a good "regular" lens, what's wrong with extension tubes or reverse mount adapters, or even bellows setups? (I haven't played with any of that yet, but will eventually.)

  4. Alan, I haven't used extension tubes in many years but you're right, definitely something to try out. I already have a great 70-200mm lens and if I could get it to focus closer, I'd be happy, especially since it's image-stabilized and these two macro lenses aren't.

  5. By the way, how did you get the lion's tail flower photos? When I grew these a couple of years ago they were at least 8' tall!

  6. Our lion's tail is no more than 5 ft. tall. We planted it about 3 years ago from a 4-inch pot. I've heard of it growing to 8 ft. but ours is taking its sweet time to get there. Or maybe it's a shorter variety?