Hi art friends! Yes, I signed up for another 2 Lil Owls class: Tiny Details, which is all about macro photography.

In the class intro video, Denise talks about the equipment for the class. Macro lenses are expensive, but extension tubes are an inexpensive way to increase any lens’ focal length to achieve macro. That was super high level. It’s technical. You probably know by now, I’m not very technical. If you want more info, GTS.

Today’s post is part 1 of 2 posts where I test the Kenko Extension tube kit for the Canon mount. My subject is Maisie, 42 cm Narae in pinky French Resin, ca 2005, sitting on a box in front of my still life set up, which I’ve discussed in other posts. I bought the Kenko set from Amazon and it cost around $130. Also of note, since I didn’t add anything to show scale, is that Maisie’s face is roughly 2 inches wide.

I chose Maisie for a couple of reasons: she has a professional face – I think it’s her original with the addition of some freckles, but I’m not totally sure. Also, Maisie in not a character in Takashima, so she’s not getting any attention lately. Lastly, I set up this shot on the morning of the forecasted hottest 3 days in Seattle and I wanted to set up a second set of shots with a very small figure before my studio got too hot. So here is an old image of Maisie, I took with a cell phone and then grunged up.

“Grungy Maisie” by L. Anne Thompson, Tenukihandcrafts

In the past, she stood like a rock, but working with her today, she is very loose and I need to restring her. Maisie is sitting at an angle on the black wooden tissue box in my studio. The window is to her right and I wanted the morning light on her face. I also have a white piece of foam core set up to her left to reflect light.

Side note on her wig: it’s Monique’s J-Rock, which is an adorable wig for her, but it is a beast to brush smooth. I may have to try SDink’s trick of using a spray bottle filled with water spritzed on the wig to tame the frizzies.

I’m using my Canon Rebel T1i DSLR, shooting raw and my Canon 50 mm lens and set the camera on my tripod. The photos are straight out of the camera, exported from Lightroom to jpg format. The other camera settings are 1/80 and 2.0. I leave the ISO on automatic.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos on using these lenses. The two key takeaways: use manual focus and a tripod. The tripod is especially important as you reach the 1:1 stage.

1:1, I learned today, is when your extension tubes equal your lens focus length. In this case, it’s the 50 mm lens + as close I can get with this tube set: the 36 mm and 12 mm tubes. I did not need to use my remote trigger, but I’ll need to pack it on macro photo shoots because some days my hands are not very steady.

First up is Maisie and the 50 MM lens. I love the blur on the background. Probably should have moved Maisie’s hand out of the way, but these are test shots. It does serve as a reminder to compose shots carefully when I’m shooting my dolls with the nifty 50: checking angles and watching out for hand placement.

“Maisie” 50 MM Canon lens

Next is Maisie with the 50 mm lens plus the 12 mm extension tube. I love the way this turned out – she’s partially focused with her hair blurred around her, you can see her freckles.

Maisie 50 mm lens + 12 mm tube

The third photo is the 50 mm + the 20 mm tube. You can see more freckles and her lips have detail I’ve never seen before. Her gaze may need a slight adjustment, but very slight. I’m not one to move eyes around for shots, but id depends on the eye type. I believe Maisie’s eyes are glass with a flat back, which makes it a bit tricky to shift around the eye opening without gaps. A holdover from my mixed media days is for the subject of my portraits to look directly at the viewer. What this represents in my work: I see you, do you see me?

50 mm lens + 20 mm tube

The fourth photo is 50 mm lens + 36 mm tube. I didn’t realize until today that Maisie’s eyelashes are a burgundy color. Whaddya know? The painting is superb on her tear duct. This photo is making me consider glass eyes for all my crew. The glass reflects light in a way that seems more natural than plastic eyes.

These test shots have given me a greater appreciation for the face-up artist. There is subtle pink shading around the eye socket, the painted lower lashes, the deeper shadow painted in the crease. I’m not sure if it is a light glitter or just gloss around the eye lid, but I’m totally amazed by this artist.

50 mm lens + 36 mm tube

The fifth photo is the 1:1 test: 50 mm lens + 12 mm and 36 mm tubes. Not quite 50 mm but as close as I can get with this set. The last image is not tack sharp, but I think it reduces the sense this is a doll. Except for the freckles, which is why I think a previous owner added them.

50 mm lens + 48 mm extension tubes

Overall, I’m amazed at these tubes. I’m looking forward to taking this test outside and shooting flowers. We’ve got a lovely patch of lavender in front of our condo. I noticed that they are in full bloom right now.

I’ll keep plugging away at Takashima, but expect more macro photos when you see them. Grunged up, of course.

Happy creating!