Crystalline Macro

Cup crystal macro

More shots from the bellows macro, this time details of a crystalline glaze on a pot made by Gordon Hutchens, a resident of Denman Island located a few hours north of Victoria (see this link for his website).  Hutchens’ pottery is exquisite, his control of the whole process of making a pot as absolute as possible in the medium. His mastery is evident in every single piece that I have seen over the past 20 years and thus it was a real delight to receive this cup for a Christmas present this year. It is pretty amazing what you can see in just one pot of the right kind. I think that this one has delivered the goods big time. And, on top of all this beauty, it is perfect for tea – I have been using it ever since I opened the package.



These photographs are taken with natural light from two windows and most are at the maximum magnification of 5x. It is very difficult to capture the layers of reflecting light in these layers of glaze, some of which are quite thick and which have many different things going on at different depths. I bracketed the shots, not with HDR in mind, but in order to have the best exposures possible for each one. In the end, I found that an HDR treatment brought out some of these depths of colour and light better than in a single image and so I processed them all that way. To learn a bit more about crystalline glazes, see this part of Gordon’s website.



One lesson of using old gear on a DSLR – clean it really, really well. I brushed and vacuumed the inside of the bellows and extension tube prior to putting them on the camera, but they still seem to have deposited quite a lot of dust on the inside of the camera, and on the sensor in particular. I cloned the worst of it out, but lots remains. Some of it was already there, the sensor being overdue for a bit of a cleaning, and the macro set up really seems to show it off. I guess I know what I am going to be doing tomorrow, if I get the time.





To open the gallery view click on any image below, navigate with the arrows and escape to return to this page.


Canon 5Dii, Canon FD 50mm f3.5 Macro Lens reversed with a Canon Macrophoto Coupler FL and mounted on a Canon FL Bellows with a Canon Life Size Adapter. All macro images ISO100,  merged from 3 brackets each, variously at +/- 1.o and +/- 2.0 E.V. 




15 thoughts on “Crystalline Macro

  1. I am not even remotely sure that an electron microscope could compete with your work here, my friend, we’re getting closer and closer to looking at these items on a molecular level! 🙂 Terrific work, I love this level of detail in photography.


    • Thank you!. I am sure that I am nowhere close to other forms of magnification, but if we got in much tighter, these little landscapes and celestial worlds would be different – perhaps lost, more likely exchanged for something different and fascinating.


  2. Stunning. It’s amazing how the macro worlds seem to mimic the larger world around them. These images invoke distant shots of erosion to me. They are beautiful – a wonderful testament to the craft that produced the glaze.


    • Thanks Ryan – erosion really does seem a theme of many of these. There must be some fundamental forces of nature expressed at a tiny scale as well as a montane scale. I find it fascinating.


    • Thanks! Many are macros, since the kitchen table has good lighting being next to a large window, with another one at right angles not too far away. For this kind of high magnification macro work it matters also that the floor is concrete to help reduce camera movement.


  3. Pingback: Crystalline Macro II « burnt embers

    • Thank you Melinda, it feels very good in the hand. I like being able to use something this beautiful though it would be a huge shame where it to be broken.
      I should send Gordon a link. I see him at pottery shows that we go to a couple of times a year, but the next one is not for months.


  4. You have some seriously great work here. I love these macro shots and because of the nature of the glaze on the pot it’s difficult to determine the depth, but it looks fairly deep. I didn’t notice an sensor dust at all but I only see it on my own photos in large blank areas (like sky). Oh, the color balance is very pleasing.


    • Hi Ken – thanks a lot. On this cup the glaze appears deeper than it really is (one of the nice things about it), but with the very narrow depth of field it is still hard to capture. My son has a Hutchens plate which has a transparent pool in the bottom that must be at least 5mm thick. I have been trying to photograph that too – quite a different challenge. As to the dust, I am glad it is not noticeable. It sure jumps out at me, the bits that I missed.


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