Macro Photography forum?

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by Anupam Basu, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Just wanted to throw out the idea of a macro photography forum to see what everyone thought of it. I do various kinds of traditional photography and am planning to venture into alternative processes and LF soon, but I have always had a strong fascination for macro work. I took it up a couple of years ago because it forces one to inculcate good technique and I still think that it is as exacting an area of photography technically as one can find.

    Given the technical demands of macro photography, there is a wealth of information out there that is not very easy to access and I think a macro forum would serve those film users who still practice the craft. In most digital forums on the web the board is filled with "do I get the Tamron or the Canon macro" questions and the solution of all technical difficulties seems to be dropping a thousand bucks on the Canon MPE-65! If one is interested in enlarger lenses, cine lenses, bellows and such exotica, it's very difficult to find a forum to discuss these. Even on APUG, I can't find one forum to accommodate it - see for example this thread that i had to put in the enlarging forum.

    So, I am sugesting that a macro photography forum would be very useful as a repository of the immense amount of technical information that is out there for serious users not looking to get a quick kick with a coolpix.

    I would like to hear other forum members' opinions on the topic.

    Thanks,
    -Anupam
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Good idea, I think that was discussed in the past.

    It seems like more and more, macro is now done digitally. I think it would be good to have a forum like this, so perhaps more would be willing to try it out with film.
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    With a macro forum, maybe we could get my wife to join up!
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    And then you could tell us about how you capture some of those fantastic mushroom shots of yours. :D
     
  5. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Another quick note.

    Another point I'd like to make is that the point of a forum is to organize the available expertise on the site. So having to put things in a different forum - like the enlarging one - might work but your post might not be seen by an expert on macro with enlarger lenses who doesn't hang out in the BW enlarging area. Having a particular forum would make sure that if there's someone who might help, the post would definitely come to his attention.

    -A
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I can't explain that here! Not on APUG!! :tongue:
     
  7. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I am for this idea. I also like the thought of conversing with Mrs Ole to find out if there is room left in their house to find a place to sit without it being on top of a box containing lenses.
     
  8. unohuu

    unohuu Member

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    Yes!
     
  9. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

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    I would certainly welcome such a form. Hope Sean considers this and gives it at least a try.
    Bart
     
  10. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Absolutely! I'm working on an idea that I hope will be a project and it means macro. I'll be experimenting with 35mm SLR and dedicated macro lenses, as well as bellows and close-up rings on both 35mm and MF. Let's do it.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think this would go with the long standing suggestion to add genre forums--portrait, still life, figure, landscape, street, architecture, etc. Maybe once the server issues are stabilized and the software upgrade is installed Sean could do this.
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Macro is a little different from other genres in that it has its very own set of purely technical challenges. Bellows compensation, (lack of) depth of field, reversing (or not) lenses, adapting other lenses for camera use - it's almost as bad as LF photography!

    Many of the difficulties are common to LF and macro, but I won't expect a 35mm macro shooter to learn LF photography, nor read the LF specific discussions.

    That's why I'm in favor of a macro forum.
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, I just meant that it could be one of several new forums that would address recurrent issues.
     
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  15. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Apparently nice idea, but I think it is bad. The bulletin board isn't well-suited for transfer of large amounts of information or for coherent discussions. And because the BB is open to all -- I like this -- it gathers a dangerous mixture of good and bad information. Just look at the irrelevant nonsense about working closeup that's been posted here and on other photo BBs.

    Besides, there are books on the topic that contain more information about it than most of us can deliver. Lester Lefkowitz' The Manual of Closeup Photography and Brian Bracegirdle's Scientific PhotoMacrography, for two. For relative beginners, A. A. Blaker's Field Photography. And then there are H. Lou Gibson's two large pamphlets, Kodak Publications N-12A and N-12B (might have got the letter wrong, if so, sorry). For imbeciles who need inspiring images as well as technical advice, Heather Angel's book on closeup; it is head and shoulders above John Shaw's.

    I don't see the point of typing what's in those books when the person wanting the information can just buy one or several of them and get it all.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  16. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Dan, I agree with you about the amount of information contained in books but isn't that true of almost all areas of photography? The bulletin board format is not a good source for organizing information but it is uniquely suited to addressing contingent technical problems.

    I find the general difference between APUG and some other (especially digital only) forums is that most people there have not even read the manual of their 1Ds MK II cameras and come in expecting to learn a whole area of photography just off a couple threads on a board. Here, on the other hand most have read quite a bit on their interests and still have particular questions - and they are willing to read even more if pointed to the right sources.

    So, while boards don't replace books I don't think a bibliography could replace informed discussion either.

    -A
     
  17. Carol

    Carol Member

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    I would welcome a forum dedicated to macro photography. The town I live in doesn't even have a bookshop and the photography section in my local library is woeful. I am having a rare trip to the city later this week and if anyone could suggest the most helpful book on this subject I would be very grateful.
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Carol, in alphabetical order abebooks.com, addall.com, and amazon.com, seem to be highly superior replacements for the corner used book store. And the books I recommended are, with the exception of Bracegirdle, out of print and rarely found in the used book stores to which I have access.

    Anupam, not everyone agrees with me, but IMO there's not much to closeup photography. The technique is exacting but not hard to understand. It may be that I'm too dim to see the complexities.

    Also, I'm tired of seeing the same old questions over and over again from people who think that asking for help is the best way to get it. IMO, one should always do a little searching -- in one's own library, via Google and its competitors -- before begging strangers for information. People who beg before reading their cameras' manuals are, IMO, simply pathetic. I see questions from people too lazy or dense to RTFM as insults.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  19. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Dan I can see your point.....but....here it comes.....new people to photography as in the next generation who will carry on analog photography do not have your expertise in this matter. There will always be the same basic redunant questions asked. It is the nature of people searching. They find a place like apug and in their enthusiasm will ask the same questions that have already been asked, without their having done a search. I'm guilty of this on other boards. I might even ask in the future here a stupid already answered question because it is faster to ask and get that quick reply than to do a search. Just human nature coming into play.

    As to the idea of a forum for macro/closeup this comes at a very opportune time. Emulsion has had for a long time now planned the third issue will be on macro/closeup photography. While we can't replace the books mentioned, it can bring portfolios and stories of those doing this work to our readers. It may inspire more people to try this medium. The forum will also answer the question for those of us who either can't get to a bookstore (not all buy on line) or who do not have the spare cash to purchase those books. There are a myriad of reasons this forum would be a good idea. If someone doesn't like it, they can always choose to ignore that forum as Sean has provided us with that option. Sharing even if it is old rehash, is never a bad thing. Be glad that there is a need instead of stagnation.

    BTW this might be good for those who are interested and or do Macro to send me ideas. We are still in the plannign stages of issue 3, but will soon have it wrapped up.
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Aggie, unfortunately I see your point. But I don't agree with you. By answering beginners' questions instead of directing them to search engines or books and booksellers or suggesting experiments that will get the answers, we encourage them to continue begging for help. Spoon-feeding them instead of showing them how to feed themselves does them no favors. Part of being a capable photographer is solving photographic problems oneself ... I sometimes come away from photo.net with the strong sensation of having just seen a nest full of unfledged little birds, mouths up and wide open, all begging to be filled with partially digested bugs and worms.

    One of the weaknesses of the BB as a form of communication is that many of the posts on them are simply garbage. I'll grant that you can tell shoe polish from excrement so aren't at risk from garbage posts, but many of us are. I'm not advocating any form of censorship except self-, just pointing out the obvious. Its obvious to me that discussions of closeup photography are filled with bad responses.

    People, including poor students, who can afford photographic equipment can afford books on photography too. And people, including poor students and residents of the back side of beyond, who can beg for help online can buy online.

    Cheers,

    Dan

    p.s., I expect we'll agree to continue to disagree.
     
  21. anyte

    anyte Member

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    You don't think getting help on a BBS is good but Googling for answers is good? Information on a BBS isn't reliable but information on personal websites and blogs are? I have more than a few books on photography that must have been written by people that took some college classes and thought they automatically knew everything. One book in particular has some of the worst looking photos I have ever seen for someone considered good enough to write a book. And how do we know which writers and online sites are actually reliable? Do we just guess?

    Personally I'd rather get a variety of input from a number of people that can claim some experience with what I am seeking input on. They may offer bad advice, but they may well offer good advice. I don't see it as any worse than investing money in books that may offer bad advice or incomplete information on techniques.

    I would love to see a macro forum. Apparently it's so simple, but even after reading articles online and reading books there are still some things I just don't understand. Perhaps I'm not as smart as I like to sometimes think I am.
     
  22. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Dan,

    Don't forget that many of us here at APUG have experience in macro work in multiple format sizes that may not be covered in many of the books including those by Heather Angel and John Shaw. I have several books on the subject including those mentioned as well as those in the Kodak series. We can share our knowledge and experience. I think that it may be quite valuable particularly for the beginner. Even for those of us that only do it occasionally will find it beneficial for instance when requiring bellows factors for LF and for those using cameras without inboard meters.

    Rich
     
  23. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Lets do it! Macro is hard enough to a beginner and usually they don't really know which questions need to be asked to get to what they need to know. The real help the forum would supply is to help them organise thier thoughts on the subject and get moving on whatever project they have in mind.
     
  24. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Exactly. I've always been interested in the idea of doing macro with the LF camera, something I have not found discussed in any book.
     
  25. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

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    Dan, while I agree with you in principle I disagree somewhat on this ... as I have before. Like you, I agree that Lefkowitz is the 'horn book' of macro photography ... also doesn't hurt to add "Image Clarity." Unfortunately, IMO 9and again I know you don't agree) I find that far from all of what Lfowitz talks about is sully applicable to LF macrophotography. Beyond that there are even more very specific technical issues that apply only or more usually to LF macro work than to that in other formats.
     
  26. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Anyte, there's a lot of, um, excrement masquerading as shoe polish on the web. I still think its better to look for information and fail before asking questions.

    Rich, thanks for the comments. Why do you think I recommended (in alphabetical order) Blaker, Bracegirdle, Gibson, and Lefkowitz? All present the magic formulas clearly. The beginner's problem, after seeing them, is internalizing them and applying them as required. This is independent of format.

    Robert, Rich, much of what's been written about closeup photography and photomacrography is couched in terms of 35 mm equipment. Shaw, in particular, is Nikon-centric to a faretheewell. I use Nikon gear, even so find his focus on it counterproductive. In her book on closeup work, however, Heather Angel also discusses her work on 6x6 using, IIRC, a Hasselblad. What I've done, and you should be able to do too, has been to extract the ideas presented from their (sometimes) 35 mm-centric context and then apply them to larger formats. 2x3 in my case, larger and harder to use in yours.

    Ted, as usual I agree with you in principle but not in every specific. I'm glad you mentioned Image Clarity even though I see that book as more about good practice and practical limits to what can be accomplished than about photomacrography. About the "very specific technical issues that apply only or more usually to LF," well, I see most of them as obvious to a thoughtful person who understands the basics. For me the key is understanding the basics and reasoning from them. But you may be more nearly right here than I am.

    One general comment. Its wrong to restrict discussions of technique to a single format. APUG is visited by people working in all formats and is not restricted to people working in formats larger than 35 mm. The LF contingent shouldn't forget this.

    Cheers,

    Dan