Macro Harp String

Yet 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 the bindings of harp strings. I am told these are the the outer coils from a wound bass string, either the G, A and/or B string below middle C, possibly a mix of all three. Music is something of which I know naught, but there is a celtic harp in the house, among many instruments, and it does get played. These pictures won’t make music for you I don’t suppose. In fact, possibly the opposite since the string was dirty from years of use and kind of grotty up close. These are the remnants from replacing all the strings recently.

These shots were taken on a black glass plate (a welders mask glass) in the hopes it would be reflective enough to make clear reflections. I did not achieve that effect, though the faint reflections are nice. I got the idea from David Williams who takes some great macro shots on black plexiglass. After I took these pictures I have noticed that Karen MacRae at Draw and Shoot is using a mirror to get the kind of reflections I had in mind. I think one reason mine did not work out so well is the very shallow depth of field, but also the glass is partly transparent and thus its reflective value must be lower.

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Canon 5Dii, Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x Macro Lens, ISO100, f-8, various exposures at 1/3 (top), 1/8 (middle) and 1/6th second (bottom).

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16 thoughts on “Macro Harp String

  1. Stunning, stunning set here! I just can’t get over the intrinsic detail you’ve pulled out of your work with this lens. I find myself pouring over each image, trying to take in all the textures and details that go into the creation of the subject. Wonderful work, my friend, top drawer!!

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    • Hi Toad – these string windings sure look different blown up like this, than they do as little coils in the palm of the hand. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment – much appreciated 🙂

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  2. So cool! The particles of uck in the first image look so amazing, especially when compared to the almost golden patina that shows on the image further back. I love the abstract quality of these – it makes them sing. 🙂

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    • Hi Karen – those shells of yours are things of beauty, and very well photographed too 🙂

      I get the impression that this harp string is not of so much interest to people as some of the others. I have one or two left that are better and think I had better use them and move on to other subjects. Variety is good.

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  3. The coils show almost translucent in these. They’ve taken on a new life. I can see a bit of the reflection in the center photo but I think an ordinary piece of glass with some black velvet underneath would have given you the effect you wanted. On a side note, i hate restringing a guitar but I can’t imagine restringing a harp. Someone has a lot more patience than I.

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    • Hi Ken – thanks for the hint – I have velvet. I was using glass too when I tried to backlight some of the petals. I did not think to combine the two, but will give it a try sometime.
      It took her a long time and I think probably strained patience a bit but she is a string kind of person – only problems seem to be with one of the pins which does not stay firmly locked in its block and slips out of tune too easily.

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  4. The strings of instruments played with a bow would be much grottier because of the rosin. I can’t imagine what they would look like exactly. I have lots of used cello strings. hint hint.

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    • There is so much to photograph with this lens – not sure though that I want that close of a look at dirty cello strings. Or the heavily used strings on my son’s bass for that matter. This harp was not used heavily by its previous owner, and for the last decade of its life in that household, it lived in a closet. Its getting much better use now.

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