Macro Pysanky

More from my experiments with a Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens. To find out more about the lens, which I rented, look at my blog Macro Salt Shaker.

Today’s pictures are close-ups of some pysanky Easter eggs that we had out over the long weekend. The detailed geometric one is in the Ukrainian tradition although I can’t remember how we came by it. The other glimpses of eggs are ones that my kids made at school. They had teachers that helped decorate eggs every year (hundreds of them), and so we have quite a few that have survived. One of these is dated 2003, as you can see. Others are older than that I am pretty sure.

These shots range from 1x to 5x. I did not keep notes on the magnification, and the Exif data does not seem to either. The shots of the end and sides of an egg are at ~1:1 magnification. Some details are 5x magnification. Some are in between. None of these images are cropped. Some I have added a bit of contrast, but otherwise they are not processed very much at all.

What I liked about many of these was the texture of the egg-shell showing through, and of course the colours. The abstraction of small pieces of the decoration also was interesting to me.

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Canon 5Dii, Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x Macro Lens, ISO100. Traditional egg – f-8, Kid’s eggs – f-10. Various shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 1/80th second.

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18 thoughts on “Macro Pysanky

    • Hi – yes, it is very difficult to use. Depth of field (none) is a serious issue, lighting is a problem since at 5x magnification and at f-16 the lens is actually functioning at f-96 equivalent, leaving little room for light, and the lens is very close to subject and blocks the light. Its very heavy too. It does not focus except by moving the camera or subject, or a little bit by changing the magnification (and hence the framing), it does not autofocus and as far as I could tell, does not focus confirm either So, you really need to shoot on a tripod (preferably with a micro-adjustable rail on it), or buy some very expensive flash equipment that will work on this lens. Shooting in live view mode is helpful (the mirror is up which reduces some vibration) and one can magnify the live view to focus very precisely. And that is the tip of the iceberg as all those issues, and others, compound to create a lot of room for error. But the results are pretty special, so its worth the effort I think.

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  1. You seem to be having a lot of fun with this lens – I know I would if I had the chance to use one. It’s unbelievable the amount of detail you can bring out in a subject. The lens is really tack sharp. I can see that focus is everything with this lens. These are very nice.

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    • It was a lot of fun last weekend – I only wish I had found more time to play with it. I do have more that are worth posting, but. think I will have to rent it again, for instance when we move into bug season. It would be a lot of fun to try to get some closeups of insects with this lens. I did not sharpen any of these image either, nor are they cropped, so the sharpness is a good representation, minus down sizing the images for web viewing.

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    • The lens was on the verge of driving me insane when I was trying to figure out how to use it. But, that was only for an hour or so, then I pretty much got over the twitches and started to get some fun results. Glad you like them 🙂

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    • Hi David. I have this sense that Pysanky is thriving in some places, but I have no idea what that is based on. Perhaps the traditional forms are being lost? It would be interesting to know more about that.

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    • Thanks Ryan – it is interesting to look at these so closely – they are very colourful objects that are often sitting on the table in a bowl and even if you pick one up and look at it carefully, you just don’t see the same things as in this set of photos.

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      • Exactly. My grandmother and her sister used to make them (art has always been big in my family) so we have many floating around during this time of year. However, I’ve never seen them with such clarity as these images. Truly an amazing lens (and photographer!).

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