"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

Aster Flower – Abstract Macro

This image was created back in 2004, using the Canon 100mm macro and the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens attached in reverse.
The camera and lens was mounted on a tripod and macro slider.
The aster flower itself was extremely close to the front of the lens. The flower was also sitting in a small vase.
I rotated the flower by hand while looking for different compositions, and making minor adjustments when needed with the macro slider.
I can’t recall the lighting setup, but I think that it was 2 reflectors on each side of the flower and available light, plus the use of a very small mirror to help get more light down into the center of the flower, giving it the desired glow.
The very front of the lens was actually resting upon some of the flower petals.

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

“Aster Flower”


Curves and contrast adjustments were used in PS, and a slight dodging in upper left corner for balance.

This image was originally posted more than a year ago, but did not make the transfer when moving all posts from Blogger to WordPress.

“Macro Art In Nature”

April 12, 2007 - Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, horticulture, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , ,


  1. Another great one Mike! I like the longer descriptions you’ve been putting on the photos lately. It helps me get a better idea of the different techniques used in macro photography — I’m still very new at it.

    It seems like you do a lot of shots with a reversing ring. I may have to look into picking one up. What types of lenses should you use with a reversing ring? I’ve got a 105mm macro, a 10-20mm zoom, an 18-200mm zoom, and a 25mm extension tube. The zooms aren’t terribly fast (f/3.5 i think), and the macro is a f/2.8. Do you see any combinations that would work well? Will a zoom even work for this? And how do you know which lens to attach to the camera and which one to reverse? Some kind of formula or rule of thumb?

    Comment by Brian Auer | April 12, 2007

  2. I love how you say, you “simply’ did this or that, because the results are simply spectacular. Thanks for sharing your process, step by step. It challenges me.

    Comment by Photo Buffet | April 12, 2007

  3. Mike, I want to echo Brian’s inquiry. Can you give us some insight into how you chose the lenses that you use. For example, I’m considering buying a 180mm macro lens. With that greater focal length would I not need a shorter focal length with another lens reversed?

    What are the qualities you get from different uses of the lenses?

    Comment by Donna | April 12, 2007

  4. I love your photographs Mike – only had time to look at flowers and abstract – they have a truly spiritual feel to them. Monica Weller

    Comment by Monica Weller | April 12, 2007

  5. This is absolutely gorgeous. The petals are almost like purple fire. Your images of flower are the most beautiful I have seen.

    Comment by Barbro / Picturecave | April 12, 2007

  6. Brian, I use the Canon 100mm macro for nearly all of my work.
    Sometimes, I will use the Canon 75-300mm zoom with the Canon 500D diopter for some of this work.

    With the 100mm macro, there are times where I will use an extension tube to get closer, and times a Kenko 2X teleconverter for when I want to back away from the subject and shoot for a certain type of depth, or overall feel for the image.

    Now, for the 100mm macro and reversed 50mm lens?
    You should get you a 50mm lens in the 1.2 or 1.4 range.
    The 50mm lens is always set wide open, and you make your adjustments that you may need with the macro lens, which is the one that is attached to the camera body.
    You can find a 50mm lens just about anywhere.
    A 1.2 50mm lens is still quite expensive, no matter how old it is.
    A 1.4 lens is perfect!
    A 1.7 or higher 50mm lens will sometimes give you some vignetting on the corners, even if it is set to wide open.
    I got my Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens from Alans Camera, or Allens Camera, (however you spell it) up in PA.
    I got it for around $35, a lens that I would guess is around 20 years old, and works like a charm.
    You might could find a 1.4 lens locally, or possibly Alans Camera, and some find a whole bunch of them on Ebay.
    Just get the step ring, attach it to the macro, then attach your 50mm lens in reverse, and have some fun!

    Donna, if I can remember correctly, others have used the 180mm macro with this setup with no problems.
    The reason I like this setup, is that there is no loss of light from reversing a 50mm lens and attaching it to the macro.
    Then, it gives me that very shallow depth of field that I enjoy using for the images I create, and the combination of using good selective focusing methods along with a very shallow depth can really give you something with a lot of impact to it, … which is basically what you always want in your images.
    Then, while using this method, and although I can’t quite put a finger on it, … I would have to say that the blending of those blurred areas of light and color are much more dramatic and smooth looking than what I get with a extension tube or teleconverter.

    You can handhold this setup if you wish for those very shallow depth of field abstracts, which I sometimes will do.
    For something highly detailed, you will most certainly need a tripod and even a macro slider will come in real handy for those critical focused areas that one may need.

    And PB, … Monica, … thanks for the kind comments.
    Appreciate it everyone!

    (I probably left something out. Today’s lunch has given me some heavy eyes!)

    Take care gang,

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 12, 2007

  7. Thanks Barbro!
    I visited your site last night I think, … and wonderful work I must say!!

    Thanks again,

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 12, 2007

  8. Mike, what’s with all of this twisting and twirling of flowers! That’s cheating!!! ;-) Another great shot, buddy! I just love the abstract qualities of your shots. You can place them anywhere!

    Comment by paul | April 12, 2007

  9. It’s that shallow dof that is just so magic in these compositions. So colourful and abstract.

    Comment by BobC | April 12, 2007

  10. Wow! Thanks for the response.

    I was looking into lenses after I posted the comment, but before you replied. I had found a cheap ($100) 50mm f/1.7 with a Maxxum mount. I figured that would be good so I can use it as a regular lens too. I may have to reconsider if a 1.7 is prone to vignetting. If I go for a 1.4, I’ll be shopping the older (and probably not Maxxum) stuff so I won’t be able to use it as a standard lens. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions.

    Comment by Brian Auer | April 12, 2007

  11. Mike – this just rocks.

    Comment by Mark | April 12, 2007

  12. Thanks again everyone!

    Brian, there should be a guh-zillion 50mm 1.4 lenses out there which would be easier to work with.
    Look around a bit more, maybe even in your local area and you just may find one that has been sitting around for eons.
    After I bought mine, that is when I saw them all over the place! LoL!

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 12, 2007

  13. Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes peeled. I really want to try this out, it looks like a lot of fun.

    Comment by Brian Auer | April 12, 2007

  14. Excellence

    U always never failed to share your master piece.

    Great man!!

    Comment by Charlie Tan | April 13, 2007

  15. A house filled with these types of images would be such a cheerful place to live. Lovely, Mike!!

    Comment by micki | April 13, 2007

  16. This is beautiful! I really appreciate that you take the time to share so many details of how you set up your shots…thanks!

    Comment by deb | April 13, 2007

  17. Thanks again everyone!

    Comment by macroartinnature | April 15, 2007

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