With the cycling season over - if only until the end of January - I need something to keep me busy on dull winter weekends and I've been finding plenty to do with the camera.
Inspired by the Macro competitions on the DPReviews forum, I had a couple of attempts at lashing together a macro rig by reversing my 50mm f1.8 lens. I didn't really know what I was doing but I quickly discovered that the D70 won't take a picture without a lens attached. I knew you could buy a reversing ring - and ordered one for a tenner from eBay - but I couldn't wait. I later discovered that the trick is to hold the lens in front of a regular lens, but I tried something similar but slightly more Heath Robinson - I fitted a teleconvertor onto the body and taped the 50mm to the front of it.
Coupled with the SB-800 mounted off-camera, alongside and slightly above the object, the setup worked fine - once I'd figured out how to fire the flash remotely in manual mode. The magnification was a little extreme but then I remembered I had a T-mount adaptor to use the camera with my telescope which I've never used because the camera is too heavy for the guide motors on the 'scope to cope with. It was separated from the telescope with an extension tube about 10cm long, but that unscrewed, allowing the 50mm to be connected (albeit with some insulating tape) to the mount. The first competition subject was 'Objects' and the sprocket above and the hardware shot (left) were the first shots I took. I was reasonably pleased with the results. But I took them on the last day of the competition so I didn't get a chance to act on any feedback.
The next competition was on the subect of food but I didn't manage to get an entry in during the week it ran. I did have a few attempts - this time using the extension tube from the telescope mount to try to vary the magnification. For some reason, any attempt to light the objects with the SB-800 resulted in an intense patch of light in the centre of the image which I suspect was caused by reflections on the shiny inner surface of the tube. At some point I'll try spraying the inner surfaces with some matt black paint.
By the third week I was feeling fairly confident and, with the subject set as 'Hands and feet' I decided to do something from left field and took a couple of shots of watches. Sadly, I hadn't read the small print and the hands and feet in question were supposed to be attached to a human...
Somewhat deflated, I left the camera on the tripod with the lens attached (with electrical tape, remember...) and went to bed. When I got up in the morning, the T-mount was still there but the lens had fallen a metre and a half onto a wooden floor during the night. Amazingly, it still worked - at least for the first couple of days.
It then stopped providing metering information to the camera and I thought it might be relegated to a full time macro role (one now secured by the reversing ring which arrived the same day), but a bit of fiddling around (removing and replacing the block which holds the electrical connectors) has restored this ridiculously good sub-£100 lens to its former glory. And this week's competition is The Christmas Spirit. Watch this space.