Getting Up Close

I was digging through some old stuff the other day, including my Lytro Illum camera (a fantastic, if somewhat underpowered, piece of technology). I’d bought some filter ring extenders for the Illum, which worked reasonably well. One of them was a composite Vivitar macro/wide angle extender.

It got me thinking about macro photography, which I haven’t thought about for a very long time. I’d attempted to take a couple of close ups on my recent Mount Anne trip, with very little success.

Hooded Shroom
Hooded Shroom at Condominium Creek, Mount Anne Track.

Digging out the macro extender gave me an opportunity to get very close to some tiny objects. My first chance to test it out was a trip to Wielangta Forest.

Wielangta Forest sits within a managed forestry region. Parts of it are now protected, thanks to a group of locals, and then the larger community. It is home to many protected species, including the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, spotted-tail quoll, eastern barred bandicoot and the swift parrot.

Mycena Interrupta
Mycena Interrupta

The Wielangta Walk is 5km long, mostly following an old logging tramway and the Sandspit River. It took me four hours to make the return trip thanks to the many fantastic photographic opportunities. I didn’t see any of the aforementioned fauna, but I did see a long abandoned car, with a tree growing through it, some beautiful, old tree ferns, and lots of fungi.

Crystal Ball
Crystal Ball

The biggest takeaway from using a filter extender is that it’s not that great. The adapter ring was cross threaded, so the extender wouldn’t tighten properly. This resulted in unexpected and unwanted movement at inconvenient times. It also gave me little opportunity to get as macro as I would have liked. Many of these images had the lens just millimetres away from their subjects, restricting light and endangering the subject.

Fungi family
Fungi Family

Even with those issues, and about 500 pictures, I did manage to get some real gems.

So now I have the bug for macro photography and a dodgy lens extender. The very next day I just had to order a new, actual macro lens. Budget constraints being what they are, and my current level of skill, I decided on a quite cheap, classic design – the Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG Macro Lens – only $195 through a local dealer. It’s suitable for full-frame cameras, given the design pre-dates DSLR’s, and even with some mixed reviews has no noticeable chromatic aberration and better results than many $1,000 lenses.

Mycena Tuvara
Mycena Tuvara

I’ll be going back to Wielangta armed with the new lens as soon as it arrives to get some clear shots of all the photos I rejected!