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OK, so the question is rather broad but I'm talking specifically about an article I saw on my FB feed. I chased it down to the original article here about using a compact camera and a Helios macro lens (58mm f2.0, reversed) to achieve photos of snow flakes.

To be honest, I think it's a hoax. I don't believe these shots were done with the setup described. Not only that, but he goes on to describe layering RAW images with a camera that doesn't even shoot RAW!

I know there is such thing as reverse macro photography but on this scale? They seem too perfect. Is there anything you can pick up from the images alone that can prove or disprove this setup?

For me;

1. He states "This holds lens at needed focusing distance from the glass with snowflakes (2,5-3 centimeters)" When the height of the upside down stool is much higher than that (about 30-40cm)

2. Where is the snow flake? On the glass or on the inside (bottom) of the stool?

3. {He talks about shooting RAW from a camera that doesn't support it.} With a firmware hack, it can (although I searched for "CHDK" in both articles and couldn't find anything.)

4. There are hairs near/around the snow flake (like carpet?) but there is none in the set up. Only wood and glass. "using dark woolen fabrics as background." but can not be seen.

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3  
On #3, note that the Canon A650 he says he uses does support raw with chdk. –  mattdm Nov 21 '13 at 3:05
    
The land is covered in snow almost half-the year here and I've never seen snow like that! Pretty amazing. –  Itai Nov 21 '13 at 3:16
    
@mattdm Yeah, I later googled (before I wrote the question, though) and came across that it can with CHDK but couldn't confirm anything. I search "CHDK" on both articles and Chrome yielded no results. Where does he say that, exactly? –  BBking Nov 21 '13 at 3:22
2  
Sorry, that wasn't clear. He says he uses the Canon A650, but not specifically that he uses CHDK. (Although it wouldn't be at all surprising, and solves the mystery.) –  mattdm Nov 21 '13 at 3:44
6  
Since it is on the internet and I can't figure out how to do it myself in 10 seconds, it must be fake, right? –  Michael Clark Nov 21 '13 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I'm not quite sure why you're so skeptical; it's well-explained and the explanation seems plausible. To respond to your particular points, having read the page:

  1. The setup with the stool and glass is used for the photos where the snowflakes are on the glass and backlit. They are on the glass, 2.5-3cm away from the lens. The rings on the front of the lens (well, the back of the reversed lens, but at the front of the whole assembly) actually touch the glass. (So says the article.)

  2. Right, this is answered by the above. Snowflakes are on the glass.

  3. Since he says he is using a Canon A650, and since he is shooting in RAW, there's no reason to suspect that he's not using CHDK. In fact, his photos on Flickr are tagged CHDK.

  4. At the very top of the post, he starts out by saying that sometimes he shoots the snowflakes with a glass background and sometimes with a dark woolen one. It's pretty clear which ones are which.

As for seeming "too perfect", note that he puts a huge amount of post-processing work into these. Another blog post from the photographer on techniques used is titled "About averaging identical shots... or how to spend several hours to make from this picture" [emphasis added]. And for all of that, impressive as they are, these are still relatively low-resolution final images.

I mean, I'm sure it could be faked, but it all seems straightforward to me.

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It's a fact that using two lenses with one reversed works. Here are a few quick examples that I shot by combining two lenses:

50mm with 50mm reversed: 50mm with 50mm reversed

50mm with 28mm reversed: 50mm with 28mm reversed

105mm with 28mm reversed: enter image description here

These were quick, dirty, and hand held -- I held the camera with one hand and held the reversed lens against the camera lens, focusing simply by moving very slightly toward or away from the subject. There are a number of ways that my shots could be improved, but I think these images are good enough show that decent macro images are possible using the technique shown in the article.

For what it's worth, I took these with a Canon 6D, EF 50mm f/1.4, EF 24-105mm f/4, and old Olympus 50mm and 28mm lenses.

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What about with a compact camera? –  BBking Nov 21 '13 at 7:57
1  
It makes no difference, except the FoV is much narrower since the sensor is much smaller. Any lens is a lens, regardless of what type of camera it is attached to. Almost all modern photographic lenses are complex lens systems consisting of multiple elements comprising multiple groups. Placing one complex lens in front of the other just combines the properties of each separate compound lens system into a third compound lens system. The optics are the same, regardless of how they are attached to a camera. –  Michael Clark Nov 21 '13 at 9:03
    
Actually the FoV is larger not narrower, because of the reduced sensor.. so actually, with a compact it's easier to get in focus macro shots. –  Marco Mp Nov 21 '13 at 14:06
3  
@MarcoMp Don't confuse field of view (FoV) with depth of field (DoF). The FoV is indeed narrower because the sensor only sees the middle portion of the image. I'm not sure whether the depth of field is really affected -- the optics are the same, so I'd think the depth of field should be the same also. Changing the sensor doesn't change the space in which the lenses create a sharp image. –  Caleb Nov 21 '13 at 15:19
    
Sorry, I read one instead of the other. –  Marco Mp Nov 21 '13 at 18:14

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