Hyper Macro

Russel Kwan

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A few months ago, I started an investigation into the photographic possibilities in the grey zone where macro-photography ends and micro-photography starts. Macro-photography has long been an interest of mine, and I was starting to wonder what lurks beyond the "usual" macro magnification limit of 3:1 or so. On the other hand, micro-photography (photographs taken through a microscope) is somewhat unappealing to me, due to the creative constraints imposed by the microscope itself. I wanted the freedom to light and position my subjects arbitrarily, and hopefully engage the creative controls offered by view camera movements to boot.

A colleague from the Vancouver Photo Meetup Group - you know who you are - showed me some remarkable bodges made with cast-off gear. One was a reversed wide-angle lens, hot glued to a camera mount. It worked pretty well, all things considered. But, the really cool thing was an old 8mm (or something) cine lens, also hot glued to a camera mount. Got me thinking about macro bodges.

Some time later, I stumbled quite by chance on a set of 6 lenses, made by Tominon for Polaroid for the express purpose of high-magnification copy stand work. These copy cameras are long obsolete, so I was able to get the lens set for a very reasonable price. A little bit of disassembly of the Polaroid components left me with a lens system I could fit onto my view camera.

There have been lots of problems to overcome: how to intensely light tiny subjects without melting them, and still have directional, shapeable light (now solved with a surplus fiber-optic microscope light pipe), how to damp out vibration in the system (now solved with little homemade rubber feet under all stands, heavy weights, and remote triggering of the camera), and how to measure light on subjects only a couple of millimetres across (now solved by calibrating my spotmeter to read directly off the groundglass).

I've barely got control of this stuff, so interesting pictures are probably still months away. Here's an early result.

Hyper Macro Setup - Viewed From Above

Hyper Macro Lens Installation


experimental photography techniques


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