Images from the Film Archives – 1997
Years before this image was taken, my wife and I bought this basket because we loved the pastel shades woven into it. And it was at least a year until we dried some roses and placed them inside to help with decorating our home. But I always loved the harmony of colors between the roses and the basket weave. So in 1997, I finally got the inspiration to photograph it somehow to show that harmony.
It was a simple photo with the basket on a stand by an open window that provided the light, with a piece of white foam core on the opposite side of the basket to provide some fill light for the shadows. But camera placement began to be a problem since including the entire handle, which also added to the color harmony, and more of the flowers created a large dead space at the top of the frame. I tried horizontal and vertical orientations, but neither seemed to work. So I tried moving closer with the camera to eliminate that dead space entirely, but the lens could not focus close enough. What to do?
I couldn’t use the telephoto because I couldn’t move back far enough to get tight on the subject, nor would the lens focus close enough either. So I stayed with the 80mm (50mm on full frame) and brought out the life saver: my set of close-up filters. Instead of a macro lens, these inexpensive filters screw onto the front of the lens and allows it to focus closer. The set of three, +1, +2. and +4, allows closer focusing than with the lens alone, with +4 being the strongest of the three. All that was needed was the +1 filter and I was I business, having only to hold the foam core with one hand, trip the shutter with the other, and bracket the exposure enough to guarantee at least one frame would be properly exposed. You don’t want to go through the process again if it doesn’t work.
I had to use the same approach for this singular fern photographed out in the field. In order to fill the frame with the fern, the camera had to be placed too close for its closest focusing distance. So again, the +1 filter saved the day. I remember shooting at 1-second, a little longer than necessary, using f/16 to make the shutter speed at least that long feeling then, as I do now, that longer exposures of stationary objects, produce better information on either the film, or now on the sensor. I don’t have any technological proof of that, simply an opinion after examining film all those years, and seeing similar results (to my eye, anyway) in digital.
I have never owned a macro lens in either the film days, or today with the digital set up. I’m sure I would have fun exploring that world with the eyes of a child seeing new things for the first time, but never pulled the trigger to buy one. Maybe the reason is, now that I think about it, that I never had any room in my camera bag then, or the small backpack I use now. Who knows though, it may happen someday, but until now, the filter set seems to have met my needs.