Enjoying the Hobby Without Breaking the Bank




This past Sunday I spent the afternoon with a friend, Chris Watts, shooting at a local park. Chris and I used to work together. After learning of our common enjoyment of photography we started taking a few photography trips together. I spend most of my photography outings alone. A lot of times this works out best for me. However, other times I enjoy shooting with other fellow photographers. Beside the fellowship, often times this is a great way to learn new tips.





Earlier this summer I received several new toys as gifts. One of these was a set of extension tubes.  I have attempted to use them with my automatic lenses knowing that I would have to focus it manually. The problem I had was the aperture was totally closed, which caused the subject to be so dark that it made it very hard to focus.  So during our outing, I had the opportunity to use my old 35mm manual lens from my film days. It worked perfectly with the extension tubes and allowed me to vary the aperture when needed.





The extension tubes, are sometimes called extension rings, and can be found on e-bay any day of the week for less than five dollars a set. If you are interested, a set that contains electrical contacts for automatic lenses can be purchased for less than an hundred dollars. The set comes with different sized rings labeled 1, 2, and 3. The rings can be used separately or in combination with each other varying the magnification. The rings contain no optical elements. Their purpose is only to move the lens farther away from the camera magnifying the subject.




My second little toy is wireless flash trigger (MK-RC7). It basically uses UV light to trigger a flash source. This also can be found on e-bay for less than thirty dollars. Then I purchased a Neewer TT560 speed light. I was able to pick it up for around forty dollars. I’m still learning the manual process, which requires a bit of trial and error.




After all, the goal is enjoying the hobby without breaking the bank. In the end, I was fairly pleased with the results.




10 thoughts on “Enjoying the Hobby Without Breaking the Bank

  1. Great blog, Phillip.

    Shooting alone is okay, but shooting with a buddy is “funner” – and that probably why i have a hard time getting out there. But this weekend it gonna happen.. Fall colors are almost at peak here, so its now or never.

    Next time you go shoot macro like this, try and bring a diffuser that you put really close to the subject, but of course just off camera. You will get a much softer light. A diffuser could be a white umbrella, a bed sheet, towel, or some tracing paper. That works very well.

    1. Thanks Jan. You are right a photography outing can be more fun with a friend. However when I’m alone I’m not responsible for holding someone else behind. As a good example I actually had a diffuser and reflector kit with me, I just decided not to play with it. I wish I had now.

  2. Nice tips and images Phillip. You are right, the camera industry is so focused on the next new thing that we sometimes forget that we don’t always need them.

    1. Thanks Len. I understand that there is a huge market and need for quality, but somewhere along the way I feel that the hobbyist is sometimes left behind in the dust.

  3. Fun read, Phillip. I haven’t used extension rings for a great many years, so maybe I should give it a try again some day. I really like the way you try to find various solutions. As you I usually work on my own, but I have come to enjoy working with others more and more. It’s really so inspirational. The two close-ups here are both beautiful, but the second is my favourite. For me the composition and the way the light falls in particular works better.

    1. Thanks Otto. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a recluse. I certainly don’t mind going out with others, I rather enjoy it. It is just that most times I decide at the last minute to go out and I grab my stuff and go. Then having found myself alone a lot of times, I’ve grown more accustom to spending as much time with a subject as I sometime feel comfortable if someone else is with me.

      The first shot I was shooting with both a one ring combined with a three ring. The second was shot only with the one ring. I believe that I also either relocated or adjusted the power of the flash.

  4. Some very good equipment tips, Phillip. Specialised equipment for nature and close up/macro photography could obviously be really expensive, if you didn’t employ these ingenious methods.

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