Articles, Blog

Lichen macro photography using a reversed lens and UV Light

February 10, 2020


In this macro photography tutorial, we’re
going to be exploring lichen. I’ll be looking at this stuff really close up
using a reverse lens setup. I’m going to get started so I’ll see you in just a
second! Hi guys I’m Ben from Adaptalux and
welcome to another macro photography tutorial where today we’re taking a look
at lichen now if you’re not from a temperate climate like we have here in
the UK you might not be too familiar with this stuff but it’s pretty common
in our woodland it grows on all sorts of branches and rocks and things like that
it’s actually a form of algae and fungus is lots of different organisms under one
sort of banner called lichen so I’ve brought a little stick in here with lots
of lichen all over it I’m going to grab my camera and just take an initial look
at the surface texture of this stuff because it’s got some really interesting
features the first thing that we need in order to take a look at our lichen is
some light I want to get a nice bright light on here so that we can see all of
those little bits of detail for that I’ve got the Adaptalux Studio and
I’ve got my control pod sat on a little mini tripod quite low down here because
I’m not doing anything with my lichen other than just having it down here on
the table what I’m going to do is plug in a couple of white lighting arms with
some diffusers on the end just so that we can get some nice initial white light
and be able to see this lichen in all of its glory with lots of colors and
natural greens and yellows so I’m just going to position these over the top so
that they’re reaching over around the front and then I’m going to grab my
camera and take a look at what this stuff looks like this already looks pretty cool to me I
just want to make it a little bit brighter and rather than doing that with
my settings I’m actually going to do it with the lighting I’m just going to hold
the plus button on the control pod to turn on boost mode which you can see
gets us a lot more light I can already tell this is going to be a really
interesting shoot we have got so many different colors and textures in this
lichen that it’s going to be an absolute joy to explore there are going to be
some challenges though we’ve got a very detailed subject that has a curve to it
so there’s not a single flat plane to focus on which means our depth of field
and our composition is going to be pretty tricky and we might have to put
some thought into how we want that to come out we can either roll with it and
get some really soft focus images with only a few little bits of detail in
focus or we can try and eliminate our depth of field problem by photo stacking
taking multiple images and blending them together in Photoshop later on so I
might try a few different ones of both of those techniques but for now I’m
going to change lenses and see how close we can actually get to this lichen and
what kind of detail that brings out I’ve used a reverse lens setup before in one
of our other videos to shoot moss I’ll link that video up here if you want to
go and check out some really cool close-up images of moss and water drops
but for those of you that haven’t seen a reverse lens setup before I’m just going
to very quickly run you through what we’re actually doing here it’s a really
cheap way to get really high magnification factors if you don’t have
a dedicated macro lens what we’re actually doing is taking an old lens
just a normal lens a kit lens maybe from your camera and reversing it onto
the camera body so I’ve got a 28mm Tokina lens here which is nothing
special it’s got manual-focus it’s also got a manual
aperture ring so I can click open and close the aperture here what we’re going
to do is take a reversing ring so this is just a ring with two threads on
either side and that means that I can screw this to the front of our lens and
then screw something else to the front of that, that something else is going
to be a set of extension tube so we have a lot of extension possibilities here
this will get us really really close and get that high magnification factor what
I’m going to do is screw this to the front of our lens as well and then on
the back of that I have an adapter so that it will mount to my Nikon so now I
can reverse mount this attaching it to the camera this way round it might look
a little bit strange but those adapters and the reversing ring and extension
tubes are very very cheap so it’s a great way to get that high magnification
if you can’t afford a dedicated macro lens now I’m going to be shooting on a
tripod from now on because we are getting very very close to our subject
and we’re going to get a little bit of camera shake if we don’t try and keep
the camera steady so what I’m going to be doing is moving my subject around in
front of the camera rather than moving the camera around the subject exploring this stuff is absolutely
fascinating there’s so many different bits of detail and different features to
find as you look around there’s different colors including lots of
greens yellows and they actually stand out against a grey background where the
the lichen has stopped photosynthesizing and it’s lost its color but some of the
color remains and you can get a really great contrast there what I’ve done with
my lighting is to take off my diffusers and just go with direct light shining
right at the spot that my camera is actually looking at that means that I’ve
got the maximum amount of light on that one tiny little spot and I can get
really good settings including a good aperture value which means a better
depth of field I’m having a lot of fun exploring around
my lichen finding all of those interesting details and features and
creating almost alien landscapes out of the fungal structures that are being
built up out of this twig I did say that I wanted to make things a little bit
more interesting though so that’s what we’re going to do for those of you that
have watched a lot of our videos you’re probably thinking he’s gonna add some
colored light into the mix maybe an LED lighting arm maybe a couple of color
filters however that’s not what we’re going to do today I have a feeling that
this stuff is going to fluoresce really nicely under UV so I’m going to get my
UV lighting arms out and do some UVIVF photography now if you don’t know what
that is and you don’t know what I’m talking about
definitely go and check out our UVIVF video where I explain all of the science
behind what’s actually happening here and how you can do it without modifying
your camera I’m going to go and plug in some UV lighting arms make the room a
lot darker and see what this stuff does when I subject it to some UV light for
my UV set up I’m going to be shooting with both lenses so that we can get some
wide shots and some close-up ones like the ones that we’ve already seen I have
however changed my to white lighting arms for UV lighting arms these are
going to make my my subject fluoresce when I turn out the lights and when I
take a long exposure however when I turn out the lights I’m not going to be able
to focus because it’ll be too dark so I’m going to plug in another white
lighting arm just so that I have a temporary focusing light on my subject I
can turn out the lights focus and compose and then unplug that white lighting
arm or turn it off via the manual controls on the pod or turn it off using
the app what I’m going to do now is turn off these lights you’re not going to be
able to actually follow along here and see what I’m doing in the dark
but I’ll come back with the results it turns out that lichen under UV is
even more interesting and fascinating than I thought it would be we’ve got
lots of oranges and a few blues coming out depending on how dormant the stuff
is we’ve got lots of variation in color and we still have all of those
interesting techniques that we were using earlier on playing around with our
depth of field and we can also still create shadows using the UV light if you
have some UV lighting arms at home already then definitely check out
shooting lichen it’s one of the most interesting UV subjects that I’ve shot
so far if you want to see a little bit more UV photography i’ll link another video
up here where we shot some lilies that was a really interesting exploration
into the different colors that the natural world can create when we’re
talking about UV fluorescence there are quite literally thousands of varieties
of lichen that you can find pretty easily in your local woodland maybe even
in your garden just by looking around for rocks with this stuff growing on it
grows quite often in bushes and trees as well on the bark so if you’re shooting
lichen definitely let me know down in the comments and let me know how yours
differs to mine especially if you’re shooting with UV lighting arms and I
want to know whether those colors that you get are different to mine and
different to different types of lichen I’ve had a lot of fun shooting this
stuff today and if you’ve enjoyed watching the video make sure to give it
a like and don’t forget to subscribe for all of the new videos coming this year
for now though guys thank you very much for watching and I’ll see you next time

10 Comments

  • Reply Make Build Modify February 8, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Funny, I was just shooting some lichen yesterday! No UV though. I had no idea that it was florescent.

  • Reply nimmira February 8, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    Would blacklight bulbs work as UV lighting? I had some and wanted to shoot some UV photos (i have a mod camera) but I didn't work much with them because i noticed that i somehow feel itching and burning in my eyes (even though I try my best not to look at them). Later on though I totally ran out of ideas to use them anyway

  • Reply Gary Bickerstaff February 8, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    can you buy the adaptalux lighting in uk i can only find them in the states but they are on back order

  • Reply Ashley Stubbings February 8, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Ben! I absolutely loved this video! The colours you got under the UV lights were 'other-worldly'! I have done some macro photography of lichen recently and it's fascinating stuff. I wasn't able to use an Adaptalux though, as I probably mentioned in a previous video. I don't have one yet.

  • Reply manu man February 8, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Per piacere puoi aggiungere sottotitoli in italiano? Grazie

  • Reply Erich Poole February 8, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Ben, interesting video and subject, this is something i would like to try sometime, especially with the UV lighting. With regards to Adaptalux stock, will you be at The Photography Show at the NEC in March and selling your gear?

  • Reply Randy Fox February 8, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Damn it! I've seen lichen all around here but I never thought to stack it.

    Thanks, Ben! <runs outside to grab my macro lens and some lichen now>
    I don't have the UV capabilities but that might change after seeing this video!

  • Reply Andream - February 8, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Ben, great video, would never have thought of lichen!
    I have some UV torches so will be trying this.
    Am also saving up for adatalux studio as I’m currently using anything from mini maglites to mini led torches with anything from coloured balloons or cellophane on the front, getting some good results but I haven’t got enough hands !! 😉
    Andrea (Australia)

  • Reply Ace Hardy February 9, 2020 at 3:53 am

    📸🎬🎥

  • Reply Stephen Stevenson February 9, 2020 at 6:26 am

    excellent video Ben!

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