I started dabbling a bit in the area of macrophotography recently. Spurred on by a surprise offer of a lens loan from my friend Michal of a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, I decided to do a little experimenting…
For my initial subjects, I decided to focus on the intricacies of some modern firearms, including the Heckler and Koch VP9 9mm pistol, as well as the Colt LE6920 rifle. The VP9 is H&K’s well-received re-entry into the striker-fired pistol market, and the Colt LE6920 is a clone of the military M4, the only differences being the barrel length (16 inches versus 14.5 inches to be Title 1 compliant) and obviously the lack of a select-fire capability allowing for full auto operation.
One of the things to remember with macrophotography, in my experience, is that your autofocus functionality is nigh-useless, and, in most cases, not desirable, as macrophotography often depends on utilizing depth-of-field to draw attention to a specific element, i.e. the H&K logo in the image above, and also due to the subject being magnified, precise and sharp focus is required for optimal results.
In addition, to achieve this level of detail and sharpness, it is definitely recommended that your camera be stabilized, either via a sturdy tripod (a $50 no-name tripod probably won’t suffice) or via more exotic means such as grips, clamps, and so forth.
With your subject stabilized, you then can can utilize more than just strobes for a light source. In the above examples, I employed a mix of natural light and small LED bulbs to add a certain color mix and ambiance to the subject. Also, fixtures around your home can be employed in this fashion as well.
For example, in the above image, I used a standard halogen lamp to highlight the OTM (open-tip match) projectiles loaded in their Magpul PMAG. The warmth of the light highlighted the tone of the brass casing and the copper jacket of the projectiles themselves.
What left me pleasantly surprised was the ease of which one could generate quality macro images using light sources and surfaces found around the home. With your camera generally in a fixed position, longer exposures are possible, allowing for more experimentation with lighting and depth of field. Of course, with digital imaging, the ability to experiment is unlimited.
In the end - experiment and evaluate!
Photo Gear used/featured:
- EOS 5D Mark II 21.1MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR Camera
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
- Manfrotto MK293C4-A0RC2 4 Section Carbon Tripod Kit with Quick Release Ball Head
Firearm-related gear used/featured:
- Colt LE6920 M4 5.56x45 NATO carbine
- Heckler & Koch VP9 9mm Pistol
- MAGPUL PMAG GEN M3 30 round M4 Magazine
- Black Hills 5.56mm NATO 77gr OTM MK262 Ammunition
- Speer LE 9mm +P 124gr Gold Dot HP 53617 Ammunition
All firearms and accessories featured in this post are available from their respective links. Please observe all safety rules and legal niceties when purchasing and handling. Some of the equipment featured may not be legal in your jurisdiction. Know the laws before you buy. If you are unsure, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My response won’t constitute legal advice, but I can point you in the right direction.
A special thank you to the men and women of our armed forces on this Veterans’ Day.