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Photography with a magnifying glass: a quick guide

PostingPhotography with a magnifying glass: a quick guidefirst appeared inSchool of Digital Photography. It was written byMegan Kennedy.

A guide to magnifying glass photography

Magnifying glass photography is a great way to capture unique and creative photos – but how does it work? And how can you get the best results?

In this article, I explain everything you need to know about capturing eye-catching photos with a magnifying glass, including:

  • What really is photography with a magnifying glass
  • A step-by-step approach to great shots
  • A practical list of ideas to inspire you
  • And more!

So if you’re ready to have a lot of fun, then let’s get started, starting with:

What is magnifying photography?

As the name suggests, magnifying photography is a technique that uses a magnifying glass in conjunction with a standard camera and lens setup. The magnifying glass goes between the lens and the subject to create all kinds of interestingcreative effects.

Magnifying glass photography

For example, you can use a magnifying glass to:

  • Expand subject
  • Produces optical distortion
  • Highlight compelling details

In a sense, a magnifying glass can act as a budgetmacro lens, although the resulting photos tend to be much more extravagant than what a conventional macro lens could create! The good thing about magnifying glasses is that they are very cheap and many people may already have them at home, so they are very affordable. Plus, they offer endless opportunities for creative photos!

Photography with a magnifying glass: step by step

In this section, I share my approach to beautiful magnifying shots. Please note that for the purposes of this tutorial, I have chosen to photograph flowers. They are colorful, interesting, and do not move, making them good subjects for this technique. (And once you can create great images using inanimate objects, you can always move on to a more animated theme later!)

Materials needed

  • A camera
  • A magnifying glass
  • An interesting topic
  • A cleaning cloth
  • A tripod (optional)

You can use any type of camera to create beautiful magnifying glass photos; while a high endmirrorless modelit will work great, you can also use a smartphone.

Also, if you want to increase its versatility, it’s a good idea to buy a few different size loupes. Larger models work best if you want to create images that are focused on your subject that don’t include the magnifying glass in the frame, but smaller models can work well too, especially if you’re looking to get creative.

Finally, a tripod can be useful for a number of reasons: it will keep the camera steady while holding the magnifying glass, and if you’re working indoors and in low light, it can prevent blur due tocamera movement.

Magnifying glass photography

Step 1: Set up your camera and clean the magnifying glass

Start by turning on your camera and – if your lenses are interchangeable – mount a lens in the 50mm to 105mm range. (If the lens is too short, you may have a hard time getting the edges of the magnifying glass out of the frame, and if the lens is too long, it may be a bit unwieldy.)

If you have a tripod, you’ll want toextend the legs to the height of sitting or standing. Put the camera on top.

I also encourage you to clean the magnifying glass with your cloth. (A lens-cleaning cloth works, too.) It’s important to remember that the glass in a run-of-the-mill magnifying glass is much less impressive than the glass inside the camera, so it’s a good idea to always clean the glass element before use. use. That way, you can maximize the sharpness of the image. (Don’t worry if you don’t get sharp images, though; softness can add to the overall effect!)

Magnifying glass photography

Step 2: Find a subject and place it close to your camera

For this example, I’m using flowers as the theme, but you can use just about anything: toys, food, electronics, books, or even people. I recommend that you choose a theme with a lot of details; the more detail present in the subject, the more the magnifying glass has to highlight!

Once you have a subject, adjust the camera position until the camera and subject are close. (You may need to adjust the tripod legs, and it’s a good idea to support your subject on a table or other stable surface.) The magnifying glass will likely confuse your autofocus, so set your lens tofocus manually.

Step 3: Place the magnifying glass

Next, hold the magnifying glass over the front of your camera lens in your hand and look through the camera’s viewfinder. The image will probably be extremely out of focus, so you will need to adjust the focus of the lens or move the magnifying glass back and forth between the camera and the subject. This can be tricky, but I encourage you to persevere.

The goal is to find a sweet spot where part or all of the image looks sharp, but isn’t overly demanding. It’s important to be open to how the magnifying glass alters the photograph!

Magnifying glass photography

Step 4: Adjust your settings and take a photo

Once you get the effect you like, go ahead and press the shutter button! But pay attention to your camera setup, and keep in mind that the extra layer of glass between the camera and your subject will reduce the amount of light that actually reaches the sensor.

So you may need to reduce yourshutter speedor raise yourISOuntil a reasonable result is obtained. You can also adjust theexposure compensationif your image is too dark or too light, you should definitely experiment withdepth of fieldadjusting theopening, also. (Ashallow depth of fieldcan work great if you want to produce abstract photos!)

Step 5: Experiment!

At this point, you know the mechanics; you just need to experiment. In my experience, constant testing makes for the best photos!

For example, once you get the feel of photographing your subject through a single magnifying lens, why not try attaching two magnifying lenses for higher magnification? Or why not go from inanimate to animate objects and try photographing a person or pet? Or why don’t you try moving the magnifying glass very close or very far from the subject? Even the slightest adjustment of settings can produce unique results, so toTake the time to experiment and have fun!

Magnifying glass photography
To create this image, I glued two magnifying glasses together.

Photography ideas with magnifying glass

As I emphasized in the previous sections, you can capture beautiful magnifying shots of just about anything, but here are some easy ideas that use materials around the house!

You can photograph flowers (real or artificial) and place the magnifying glass far enough from the lens to blur the composition:

Magnifying glass photography

You can also experiment with a black and white conversion, which will bring out the shape of your subject and emphasize the ethereal effects created by the magnifying glass:

Magnifying glass photography

You can also use a shallow depth of field to create a beautiful abstract photo (with lots of gorgeous background blur):

Magnifying glass photography

Another idea is to capture a self-portrait. Set up your camera, then hold the magnifying glass up to your face. It may take a lot of tweaking to get it right, but the results will be worth it! (If a self-portrait is too difficult, you can try shooting a friend or family member.)

Magnifying glass photography

Finally, try to photograph some animals or insects! You’ll need to be quick, but you can certainly create some unusual images:

Magnifying glass photography

Photography with a magnifying glass: final words

Well, there you have it:

Step-by-step instructions for capturing beautiful magnifying photos.

So grab that magnifying glass, find a fun topic, and get started. Pretty soon, you’ll have a whole portfolio of creative shots!

What do you plan to photograph? Do you have any additional ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

PostingPhotography with a magnifying glass: a quick guidefirst appeared inSchool of Digital Photography. It was written byMegan Kennedy.

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