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"Jealousy" (Dianthus Stamens) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro w/3-Ring Extension Tube Set, F/10, 1/15s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Manual Focus

I was hoping to post fabulous shots of snowflakes today but, alas, while the snowfall we received yesterday was the right consistency (the light and fluffy kind), the bitter cold and gusty winds made an already difficult process pretty much impossible. (Those of you who have ever tried to shoot super-macro know exactly what I mean).

But since I already had my 3-Ring Extension Tube Set affixed to the 105mm macro lens, I went back to the Dianthus blooms to see what more of the love story those curly stamens might have to tell.

What’s this? Is trouble brewing in the mighty ‘Land of Dianthus?’ Gasp! 🙂

"Missing You" (Dianthus Stamen & Petals) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro w/3-ring Extension Tube Set, F/11, 1/30s, -1.0EV, ISO 640

Now you must realize, these flowers are the size of a US penny (3/4″ or 19.06 mm), with the stamens as small as a straight pin!

Here lies the beauty of using extension tubes! While they contain no optics what-so-ever, they magically decrease the minimum focussing distance of whatever lens you are using, allowing you to get ‘all up in one’s business’, so to speak. 😉

Now the closer one gets, the more consideration one must pay to the tiniest of details as they will be magnified ten-fold in the resulting image.

‘Hmmm, I don’t understand, Tracy. What are these tiny details of which you speak?’

"Forgive Me?" (Dianthus Stamens) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro w/3-ring Extension Tube Set, F/8, 1/40s, -0.3EV, ISO 640

I’ll explain. Down at the microscopic level (okay, okay, they aren’t that small), life can be well, quite dusty. I didn’t notice the dust before when I was shooting with just the macro lens, but now I found myself pulling small dust bunnies off of the stamens with tweezers! Seriously!

While you’re cleaning your subject, you might as well make sure your lens, CCD and focussing screen are also dust-free. (And hope the fantastic light currently illuminating the blossoms doesn’t decide to change!) 

Yes, at times it can be frustrating but, if you persevere, you get a bug’s eye view into a secret world, where trials of love and betrayal play out on tiny colorful stages.

How will it end?

Stay tuned for our next episode of ‘All My Stamens’ to find out! 🙂


  1. They sure do look amazing, and the light so perfect too… I know the troubles of which you speak, and I’ve only done standard macro photography… Must consider getting some tubes mefinks, but I know I’d not be able to compete on the flower front.

    • Thanks, Bri! 🙂

      After I almost froze my fingers off outside attempting to shoot the snowflakes (wanting to toss my camera across the yard in the process), I was determined to produce something decent to salvage the day!

  2. Beautiful, you really have a way with flowers. Haha, looking forward to ‘All My Stamens.’

  3. Well, I’d say you salvaged the day!!

  4. Ah yes, the dusty flowers.. sometimes accompanied by tiny tiny spider webs too.. Been there. I really like the second shot, composition is great and I LOVE the little curly shadow too, I think that makes the shot. Well done.

    • Hello Anna! Welcome! 🙂 Nice stuff on your photo blog! Those frost photos are amazing!

      Thanks so much! That curly shadow is what drew me at first and I took a TON of images at all different angles and composition trying to get the story just right.

  5. So sorry the snowflakes didn’t work out… but winter’s not over yet! 😉
    These are beautiful. I can’t believe you were picking dust off the stamens LOL
    My sensor is really dirty 😦 I don’t want to send it in and be without a camera for a couple of weeks, but I’m too chicken to clean it myself.

    • Thanks, Michaela! Your ‘snowflake queen’ status is safe! (for now). 😉

      Girl, you need to get yourself to a place where they will show you how to clean your sensor and focussing screen! It isn’t that difficult and there are so many YouTube videos out there. You will kick yourself for being chicken! The dust would drive me crazy!

      Worst case…when you are here in the summer, I can show you. 🙂

  6. I love how you imagine a story unfolding among the flowers – so creative. Your macro world is amazing. As you pointed out in my last macro post, those tubes certainly do make you see things you didn’t realize were there!

    • Thanks so much, Karma! 🙂

      Ah, yes…I recall your lint-y flower… 😉 Sometimes it is downright scary to see what is on the macro level! Yikes! 🙂

      One time, I was shooting dandelions and was totally surprised to see through my lens w/ext tubes the teeniest bug crawling all over it!

  7. I am totally getting into this story. I never thought people stacked extension tubes onto macros. If you macro goes to 1:1, where are you with the tubes attached?

    • Cool! 🙂

      Hmmm, I guess I never really consider what most people do…I tend to just try stuff out and see how it goes. However, I did find this discussion on using the Kenko Extenison Tube Set DG that I have with macro lenses:

      With that said, without the extension tubes, the 105mm has 1:1 ratio, with a working distance of 6 inches. From what I am reading in the above referenced discussion, all three tubes stacked onto the 105 supply 2.37x magnification and a working distance of around 2 inches.

      Downside is, AF does not work and it takes some practice maneuvering the camera in and out to get sharp images. Also, you lose several stops of light so things need to be well lit. DOF is also VERY shallow. Tripod is a must and so is remote control shutter with delay shutter release. Can get frustrating but when it works, the results are amazing!

  8. These are amazing! Much better than snowflakes, with all the color and detail. (Besides, I can see snowflakes anytime.)

    • Thanks so much, Robin!

      Some day, I will get snowflakes! 🙂

  9. Love all of them, but the last one is delicious. 🙂

  10. Love the selective focus on the stamens – I think I like Forgive me the best of this nice bunch.

    I’m all too familiar with the awful discovery that when you get close there’s lots of stuff visible that you wish weren’t there.

    You’ll get that snowflake image! You might want to try combining a 1.4 or 1.7 teleconverter on the macro lens along with tubes – that way you’ll get more working distance.

    • Thanks, so much Tom! This is high praise coming from the ‘king of super macro!’ I am flattered! 🙂

      I never thought it possible to stack a teleconvertor along with the extension tubes (and I have both the 1.4 and the 1.7)! Giving away your secrets, huh? 😉 Much appreciated! I will indeed have to try it!

      Do you ever have trouble with the extension tube/macro lens combo locking up and giving an F0 (F-zero) on the screen? I may have been trying to push the focus too far when this happen but sometimes I think the stack isn’t staying locked into the camera’s rings. Just another frustrating thing that occurs when I’m all set to shoot!

  11. I admire your dedication, dusting your subjects mote by mote 🙂 The detail in these shots are incredible!

    • Thanks, JP! Not sure if it is dedication, stubborness or pure insanity! 🙂

  12. It’s so sad… even the botanicals are splitting up?!
    I didn’t realize just how small these flowers were – VERY impressive! 🙂

    • Maybe….maybe not. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out. 😉

      Thanks, spilledinkguy! 🙂

  13. These are beautiful, Tracy! Great colours, light and details. It’s really quite close 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Tomas! And, with Tom’s tip above, I just might get even closer, hehehehe… 🙂

  14. All My Stamens – good one, I’d watch that soap opera.

  15. All my stamens! Hahaha, you kill me. These are brilliant. Just gorgeous. I love the shadow in the second shot 🙂

  16. I prefer the flowers to snowflakes. They remind me of a spring that I am all but ready for.

    • You are a smart man, Tim! 🙂 Yes, I think everyone is ready for spring to arrive…

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  17. very cool. you very much make me want to get all up in the business of things. the shadow is an interesting detail, too!

    • Thanks, Stephen! 🙂

      Something tells me you already get ‘up all in the business’ of things! 😉

  18. These are beautiful macros! I think I need extension tubes on my 100mm macro.

  19. I dunno…yep. The second one, with the shadow: that’s my favorite.

    • Thanks, BM! I dunno…you don’t sound too sure about that! 🙂

  20. Outer space photos like Lynns blog,lol.
    What a beautiful blog you have, a nice mixture and very colourful.

    • Thanks so much, Imac! It does look like an alien world when you get down to such a small level! that’s what keeps me going back again and again!

      Thanks for visiting! Much appreciated! 🙂

  21. I know exactly what you mean.
    I have only ever come up with one truly successful macro shot.
    I found that good conditions were actually overcast skies, it’s almost like sunshine messes the shots up

    • Welcome artwebshow! Aw, that is too bad that you only have one successful macro shot. It does take practice and patience and the right equipment! 🙂

  22. I love the silvery stamens (?) of the flower!

    • Thanks, SWK! The stamens are exactly what drew me to shoot these tiny blossoms!

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By A very good year « Milkay Photography on 17 Nov 2011 at 1:58 pm

    […] February brought some fun with my 105mm macro lens and 3-ring extension tube set. I wanted to see just how ‘up close and personal’ I could really get! "Missing You" (Dianthus Stamen & Petals) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro w/3-ring Extension Tube Set, F/11, 1/30s, -1.0EV, ISO 640 […]

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