What's In My Back Garden (so to speak).

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Ralph Haus

Staff Sergeant
Jul 24, 2016
Leander Texas
I started off with just a simple machining slide, one of those cheap Chinese ones from Harbor Freight. It had a lot of "mass" which reduced vibrations but a huge amount of slop in the movement. I took a standard macro lens (100mm) and made my first stacks using that. Attach camera on the sliding part and attach subject on the non-moving part. Determine (based on magnification) step size (which at low magnifcations will be in 0.5 - 2.0 mm range, usually) and find near and far focus points, and then manually shoot, step slide, repeat. Below is one of the first images I made using that clunky setup. Not counting the camera, lens, and flash (standard stuff), my only investment was in the machinist slide. You don't need all the elaborate stuff I cobbled together over the years. I collected all the stuff and have been improving my setup over ten years. The forum referred to has a section just for setups. Everybody that does this stuff has to cobble together things. Here's what you can do with minimal stuff. It's the eye of a common houselfy (Musca domestica).

View attachment 705387
Don't get me wrong. Being an 'Old' photography buff (going back 60 years to Canon/Nikon/Minolta 35mm, and yes I still have my DR equipment), I am highly impressed.


Airman 1st Class
Aug 8, 2010
Memphis, TN
Thanks for this, I've often wondered how such great pics are achieved. I checked out the links as well and some useful stuff once I get my head around it and as for the forum link "WoW," some amazing stuff, my thanks for that. :D
Start simple. Use your macro lens and some kind of "slide". (A regular macro slide will work. Just calibrate it using a mm-ruler so that you can easily make small steps.) The stuff I do is sort of "ultra macro focus stacking." You should try stacking bigger things, first, e.g. flowers, large insects, small things around the house, etc., using your current equipment. Then you can go smaller, and smaller, and.... That's how I got into this. You can even focus stack landscapes. (Google 'Focus Stacking' and you will find a lot of info. Ever wanted those flowers in the close foreground to be in focus as well as the mountains in the distance? Only 3 or 4 shots stacked will do that for you.) For stacking the shots, use free software, at first, so you can see if you like it or not. (Google 'free focus stacking software'). The slickest 2 stackers are ZereneStacker and Helicon Focus. The latter is pricey ($140 or more) but the Zerene is reasonable ($50, I think), which is what I use. Both have "bells and whistles" that are handy when you turn hard core. (This hobby is VERY addictive, because most images of small things show you a whole new world.) When you cross over into the addiction, you can buy one or more microscope lenses to get really down on it. The low end ones are very cheap ($35-$50). Adapters for these to fit onto a camera extension or bellows are all over Amazon, B&H, Ebay, etc.

A thumbnail of this Bearded Robber Fly (unknown species) is my avatar on the photomacrography site. Caught him in my late mother's back yard some years ago. It's made from 68 images, stacked.


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