What time is it?

When I was getting ready to graduate from college in 2000, I made a decision to by myself a new watch. Just coming out of college it should be apparent that a Rolex was a little out of my price range. After looking around for a couple of days, I had decided on Fossil. They had some designs that I liked and were in my price range. I felt kind of stupid when the sales clerk gave me the watch to try. I had never had an all steel armband with what seemed like a Chinese finger trap closure. After a brief lesson, I was able to get it on and off, quite easily. However, there was another issue, the armband was too big. The patient sales clerk informed me that I was going to have to be “fitted”. I thought my pants fitted just fine. She took out a link and made a micro adjustment at the clasp and it was a perfect fit. I was happy with my new watch and pants that still fit. Fast-forward 11 years. This watch has served me well and I never have had any problems with it. All it needed was an occasional battery to keep it going. There was only one problem; all of the chrome and gold plated pieces had worn off.

My wife being the accessory type, she had finally had enough of this dilapidated looking watch. I’m the type of person that will keep something until it just doesn’t work anymore. She used the excuse that it looked “tacky” and might turn off potential clients. How do you argue with that (happy wife, happy life)? On our way to Epcot for our anniversary trip, she stopped at the Fossil store. I was like a cat spreading all of its paws trying not to get into the bathtub. It must have looked really nice a 6’ 4”, 400lb guy spread eagle against the door frame yelling, “Please don’t make me!” OK, now that you won’t sleep for a week with that visual, we will move on.

Since I was going to have to bow down to the accessory queen, I figured that I might as well get something that I wanted one day, an aviator series watch. I looked at all the different designs and found one that I liked. It had all of the same dials as my old watch (one for the home team), with an updated style. So, here I am again, feeling not so stupid as the last time having had a Fossil before, I should be able to get this thing on, right? WRONG! They have a new closure with a safety feature to make sure it says closed. This is a great idea, just makes people like me look dumb that I can’t even work it! Once again, the sales lady got me straightened out and it fit right out of the case. My wife is watching this whole thing unfold and is snickering under her breath. I had all I could do to muster up the words that my wife wanted me to say, “I’ll take it.” It wasn’t five minutes and my old watch was off and the new one was on. I told the sales person, “See you in ten years.”

As you can see life is never boring for me. I hate to say this, but I actually like this one better (gulp). Since this is in pristine condition, I thought this would make a great subject for the macro lens. I have a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro. Nikon is currently making macros in all focal lengths, but after watching a fellow photographer use a macro, I would recommend the 200mm version. The 105mm is ok, but the 85mm and 60mm version are a waste of money if you ask me. If you want to photograph insects or anything alive, the shorter lens will mean that you will have to be right on top of your subject. I don’t see a butterfly hanging around for a huge person to get right up to it to take its photo. Here’s another tip, this lens can actually be used as a portrait lens, and because it goes down to f/2.8 I’m able to get some great bokah behind my subjects.

Let me mention about depth of field for a minute. Looking at this lens, one might think that, “Ooooh this goes to f/2.8, I will have plenty of depth of field to play with.” Since we are photographing subjects that are going to fill the frame and you are going to be rather close, you are going to have to use a higher f stop. For example, at f/8 you might have a half of an inch of depth of field. Depending on the subject, this might not be enough to keep everything sharp. Most of the time, I use either f/16 or f/22.

So to prepare for our fancy jewelry shoot, I set up a light stand with a flash and 43” shoot through umbrella attached. For the camera, I mounted it on a tripod with an electronic release. When shooting macro tripods are not optional, they are required. I fitted the camera and flash with the new Nikon Pocket Wizard Flexs. These have been both a real time saver and a source of frustration at the same time. I’ll save that for another post, but as Pocket Wizard has been dialing them in, they are getting better all the time.

I set the camera in manual mode at ISO 100, f/16 at 1/250. I took at shot and this what I got.

 The Dark Ages

Ok, so there is a little tweaking that needs to be done here. First, I moved the ISO to 400. This gained me two stops, but we needed more power from the reactor to pull this off. Like the Soviet submarine commander said in the Hunt For October, “Go to 110% on the reactor.” that is what was needed here. I jacked the flash as far as it would go. I went from 1/8 power to 1/1 or full power. This gave me an additional three stops of light. I increased the total exposure by five stops. I pressed the shutter button again and this is what appeared.

 Let there be light!

OK, now the exposure is looking much better. After looking it over for a second, I noticed the armband on camera left was darker than I would have liked. I could have remedied this by adding another light, but I was feeling lazy and I used the most expensive piece of lighting gear that I own to fix the problem, a $2 piece of what foam core! I placed the foam core just outside the frame and hit the shutter again.

 Now we know what time it is!

As you can see from the above photo, the armband on the left side it now lit, also the dials also got a boost. Not bad considering this came from a $2 light modifier. Here is something to take notice on, look at the background. See how blurry it is? I’m shooting at f/16! This is what I was talking about earlier about the depth of field. I probably have about two inches of depth of field. The background is blurred and the table at the edge in the foreground is also soft.

As you can see from the time on the watch, this was done just after midnight. I guess I’m part owl, what can I say? I hope this post inspires you to try some macro photography if you haven’t already. I have a few more projects up my sleeve and I will be posting them as I complete them.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean

Spencer

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