Thomas Shahan’s DIY Approach to High Magnification Photography


Wed 12.21.11 – Thomas Shahan, a photographer and printmaker from Oklahoma, has an amazing photography high magnification photography practice with garage sale DIY camera set up and his work has been published in National Geographic.
From today’s Flickr blog:

Thomas knowledge about his photographic subjects is paired with gear that helps him achieve the stunning results you see throughout this article: “I’m currently using a Pentax K-x body, a set of extension tubes, and either a vintage 50mm f/1.7, or 28mm prime lens reversed to the end of the tubes. For lighting, I have an old Vivitar Thyristor flash mounted to a flash bracket diffused with a homemade softbox constructed from cardboard, tinfoil, and paper towel. In the past, I’ve used a Pentax K200D body, and before that – a Pentax *ist DL. I’ve stood by Pentax as their bodies work with just about any lens they’ve produced, even back through the film era – meaning as a frugal guy, I could easily attain high quality glass for cheap.”
Given that Thomas works a lot with reversed lenses, I was curious if he uses a special filter or other means to protect them. But this isn’t a big concern of him: “I’m not the guy to ask about protecting lenses – I’m using 20 dollar lenses that are significantly scratched after years of tumbling around in my backpack without proper caps. I usually keep spare lenses in socks. My 28mm, a garage-sale find, is almost solely mounted backwards and never used as it was intended. I admittedly take very poor care of my equipment.”
Asked if he uses any equipment that he would call “out of the norm”, “DIY”, or “repurposed”, Thomas explains that “Reverse-lens macrophotography is a pretty odd way to go – but offers a lot of magnification for cheap.”

I love it when I see folks working with whatever photo tool that they have at hand and then pushing the medium to make great photos. Bravo, Mr. Shahan!