Macro Photography – Ants on a Raisin

In our One Picture a Day project we have already used our Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8 AF lens several times. We have used it as a walk-around lens, and we have used it on the end of a bellows for macro photography. This is the first time we’ve used it for One Picture a Day for macro photography as designed, directly on the camera.  (As an aside, I can’t quite decide whether I should be using “I” or the royal “we” in these blog posts. But I digress.)
The subject is a classic macro subject: insects. You can expect a lot more insects in this blog when winter is over. But right now, they are a little hard to find. These ants found me, however. They were on the carpeted floor of the office. Someone, certainly not me, had dropped a raisin at some point. We are in the midst of a strong January thaw, and that’s often the cue for a certain colony of ants that’s been a familiar site in this building to rally forth to forage. I had some other ideas in mind for the One Picture a Day, but I’ll save those for another day. Never turn down serendipity when you have a camera.

Macro Photography Procedure

We are using our Nikon D90 DX camera with the Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8 AF. My copy is an older model, predating the AF-D. Saved a few bucks, and it’s still rock-solid. I manually dialed out the focus to the furthest point, then physically moved the camera until the subject was in focus. The camera autofocus does not function well at extreme macro distances on this lens. I used an SB-600 Nikon Speedlight with an alcohol bottle diffuser on top. The bottle diffuser is extra long, to help diffuse the light over a wider area. The height of the speed light coupled with the long diffuser also helps carry the flash past the lens;  the front of the 60mm AF telescopes out of its housing more than an inch its close focus limit, and can cause shadows with the D90 onboard flash when so close the the subject.