Charles Ginsburgh  

Peppersorns by Charles Ginsburgh

August 2020 - Peppersorns

About the Image(s)

This peppercorn image is from a recent indoors shoot where my goal was to generate “Making the Commonplace, Uncommon” images. Peppercorns are wonderful subjects being different from one another, textured, colorful, reasonably compliant during the shoot and readily available.

Here I used my Canon 5d mark VI camera with a specialized Canon MP-E 65 mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens This was taken as a stack of 31 images (f/8, 1/2 sec, ISO 640, 2X magnification). Here I placed the subjects on black glass, used ambient light, and a rather high magnification, thus the high ISO and longer shutter speeds. Note that with higher the magnification, less light from your subject finds your sensor, so more effort is required to get an appropriate exposure.

I then processed the stacked image in Photoshop to remove any stacking artifacts and to enhance the image some.

Note that this lens is a very specialized manual focus extreme macro lens. Canon lists the focal length for this lens as 65 mm. It is, but disregard this number for all intents and purposes. Think 1x to 5x magnification. Think 1:1 to 5:1. This lens starts where typical 100 mm macro lenses stop. Using this lens is both challenging and often frustrating to use as you need to get very close to your subject (often with an inch or so), and finding the sweet spot where your subject begins to be in focus using the manual focus (no autofocus with this lens) can take quite a bit of time. Since there is such a large magnification, the depth of field is often quite small, being in the range of 1-2 mm so you often require many focus slices with very small travel distances (0.25 mm or so) to get the shot. A focus rail (manual or automated) is often useful when using this lens.

This is the go-to lens employed by Don Komarechka ( in his snowflake and waterdrop refraction images and is not for the marginally interested or ‘faint of heart’ macro photographer. Don often shoots his stacks without a tripod or rail (rocking very slightly back or forth while shooting in a burst mode), and while he makes this work, this is a very advanced technique which takes a lot of time to master and is not something I would suggest for the starting or intermediate level macro photographer.

I often use this lens when I take images of very small subjects such as salt grains, sugar crystals or individual rice grains.

Let me know what you all think.


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