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This petal was one of my first reversed lens shots, and still a favourite

This petal was one of my first reversed lens shots, and still a favourite

I’ve long had a largely theoretical love of macro photography but never really managed to do it properly.

Many years ago I learned to delight in the reversed lens, and I’m a sucker for taking a wider lens as close as possible, but I’d never got a proper macro lens until now.

It’s simple enough: at every buying moment there was always something more important, and macro is a purely self-indulgent area for me.

Finding myself (all too briefly) more affluent than expected though, and given my recent lurch into food photography, I’ve taken the plunge.

The toy du jour, then,  is the Sigma 105mm f2.8 OS XYZ WHATEVER which I hope to attempt a sensible review of before too long (hah!) but initial impressions are . . . well, mixed, if I’m honest.

It’s hard work. Harder than I’d expected.

As I said, previous history is a reversed (dirty cheap kit) lens or shooting at minimum distance with wider stuff – not least the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art, which is just a [profanity] joy.

The joy of 35mm RIGHT UP CLOSE

The joy of the Sigma 35mm RIGHT UP CLOSE. Manual focus, I might add!

But I think doing that – fudging it – carries lower expectation and you (ok, I) have a much higher tolerance for failure. A proper macro lens carries far greater expectation but also brings a whole bunch of challenges.

If anyone out there is my recent position, let me be clear: they say the depth of field is narrow? YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE HOW NARROW. A reversed lens gives damn-all in focus and that’s the fun, so I fully expected to shoot this puppy wide open.

A reversed lens gives you no (or very very little) control, and you learn to roll with it and take what you can get.

At least as much luck as judgement with a reversed lens

At least as much luck as judgement with a reversed lens

However a proper lens suggests you can and should be more refined, yet in practice – for a newbie – it’s actually little less random.

Of course because it’s a BRAND NEW TOY I’m pushing it right to the extremes of minimum focus distance, maximum stabiliser and so on. I’m sure – or rather, I sincerely hope – that I’ll get a bit more sensible when the novelty wears off.

So: far from shooting at f2.8, I find myself at f8 and beyond and still thinking, “what the . . .”. And focussing? Don’t even mention focussing.

On the other hand you know the possibility is there and that, to me at least, is a really cool challenge. It has to be doesn’t it, if it’s going to be fun…?

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What a waist…

When I’m not fiddling with lenses and flashes and things (and am awake), odds are I’m either stuffing my face or – increasingly – preparing stuff to stuff in my face. So while I knew I’d be an inconsistent bloggist my recent lapse has a reasonable excuse: I’ve been profoundly greedy.

Bacon. Roasted. With Honey. Oh my...

Bacon. Roasted. With Honey. Oh my…

My latest obsessions have been MiMi Aye, Uyen Luu, Ching-he Huang and, er, Guy Fieri – though I assure you our relationships are, if not Platonic, entirely Epicurean.

If explanation were needed: our trip to Burma last year has inspired us to pay proper attention to Asian cooking at last, while the American thing . . . well I saw Diners, Drive-Ins & Drives and it had MASSIVE burgers…

Never mind the burgers - here's my chillidogs

Never mind the burgers – here’s my chillidogs

And so inevitably there is food photography, which is kind of tough: not only is it a very particular skill, it’s also quite hard to concentrate when I’ve just cooked the stuff and I’m hungry, dammit. Plus the wife gets cross if I hold up the noodles too long.

Nooodle om-nom-nom-nom Noooodle

Nooodle om-nom-nom-nom Noooodle

Good fun though, and something I look forward to improving at. In fact we’re enjoying it so much the wife and I have started a joint food blog: greedybots.blogspot.com. (In case you’re wondering, the name is a spinoff from her CrinolineRobot blog, and for the avoidance of doubt, Mrs Robot is her!)

So in all likelihood I’ll be even worse at updating this, not least because there won’t be room for a laptop on my lap. On the other hand, perhaps I’ll have more to write about – if you’ll forgive the slurring when I type with my fingers full.

Vietnamese pork skewers do not play nicely with keyboards

Vietnamese pork skewers do not play nicely with keyboards