A blog about what I love….photography and bicycles!


Welcome to the Canon MPE 65 Macro Lens

I have always wanted a MPE 65, surely the most dedicated macro lens I have ever come across.  The lens is a fixed focus 1 to 5 x macro machine and affectionately known by some as “The Black Hole” because of its very high light demand.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Tania Smith, a photographer living in Bloemfontein, asking if I could advise her regarding selling an MPE that she had purchased a year ago.  I was in the market so did a bit of research on what a second hand lens would go for, offered her what I thought a fair amount and she accepted.  Fortunately she was going to be holidaying in Durban and two days later we met in Hilton and the deal was concluded.

That is where the fun and frustration started.  The first thing that I learned was what everyone had noted in the reviews, simply put, very shallow depth of field, fixed focus and hmmmmmm find your subject.  I very soon learned that my 430 Speedlight would not work (the lens shadown the subject at 2 plus times), and using the lens for the first time is like hand holding an 800mm lens with a 1cm depth of field.  Lets just say that at 5x it took me an hour to take my first photograph and 59 minutes was finding the subject, then I had to photograph it with camera in one hand and 430 speedlight in the other.  Lets just say that I have purchased the Canon MT 24-EX Macro Twin Light which mounts on the end of the lens.  This has made a difference but I am still far from happy with the diffusion (so if anyone has any tips send them this way).

Before the photos I have to say that the MPE is the most expensive way to find that you have a very grubby sensor!!

Anyway, here are a few of my very fisrt photographs through the lens.  I need a lot more practice and work on diffusing the light but watch this spot.

Ant, approx 2,5mm long shot at 5x

Juvinile Aphid, approx 2mm long, shot at 5x

Sub-adult aphid, 3mm long, shot at 5X

The Kiln Gallery has a new Exhibitor

It has been a while since we had a new exhibitor at the Kiln.  Sarah van der Bank is not exhibiting at the Kiln building yet but her work is available on the Kiln FaceBook page and may be ordered directly from us.

Sarah is a born and raised Midlands lady. She grew up and was schooled right here in Howick and now lives in the Mkhuze Game reserve with her conservationist husband, Lance, and young son, Meryck.  Here is a taister of some of Sarah’s work. 

Like most of us at the Kiln, Sarah’s work may also be viewed and purchased through The PictureBox in Pietermaritzburg www.picturebox.co.za

A new series of Scarabs

I have, for a long while, been asked to photograph more Scarabs.  The problem has been finding specimens to photograph.  After much searching I found these.  This post is extremely short.  I just want feedback on the very simple “draft” photos of these four insects.  Please ignore the imperfections.

 Goliathus albosignathus, the Goliath Scarab.  One of the largest Scarab beetles on earth and found from Limpopo up into Central Africa.

Eudicella smithi, Smiths Scarab. Another interesting insect from Burundi, Central Africa.

Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, male from Tanzania, East Africa

Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, female, from Tanzania, East Africa.