Photographing small sea shells with Nikon 1 J4

Sometimes plans go awry and we end up experimenting in ways we didn’t originally plan. So it was for me today. I was going to test my new Nikon 1 J4 with extension tubes at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, but discovered the facility is closed all next week. So instead I ended up photographing some small sea shells at home.

If you’ve ever been to the beach with small children you know first hand how they find small treasures in the sand. Some of the shells are quite tiny, but to a small child its like finding gold. My wife and I have a lot of these kinds of sea shells that our children found during various holidays many years ago. We have a couple of small wicker baskets full of them.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 39mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-2200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 39mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-2200

For some reason they caught my eye and I decided to take a few macro-type images of these small sea shells. The following images were taken with a Nikon 1 J4, a 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, and a 21mm MOVO extension tube. I started off shooting some images hand-held then switched to a Giotto Ball.Pod.

This is really simple, inexpensive gear that many Nikon 1 owners would have in their bag. Here’s a picture of my mini-rig.

DSC_1639_DxOsmall

I didn’t bother with any additional lighting of any sort and captured all of the images on the top of a bedroom dresser just like many readers likely would do. Here’s a ‘behind the camera’ look.

DSC_1629_DxOsmall

I used a few different aperture settings and in order to get more depth-of-field I took quite a few images at f/8, risking some softening from diffraction. I also used the touch screen on the back of the J4 for focusing and shutter release. To give you a sense of scale here is one of the tiny ‘blue treasures’ that one of my children found a couple of decades ago.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600

Here are a few assorted images of entire shells.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.5 sec, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 0.5 sec, ISO-1600

I even found a tiny horseshoe crab in the basket.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 48mm, f/5.6, 1/10, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 48mm, f/5.6, 1/10, ISO-3200

With a few images under my belt I started to experiment a bit more with the shapes of the shells and the fluting on them.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 49mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 49mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/6, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/6, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/2, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/2, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/4, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 41mm, f/8, 1/4, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 1/3, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 1/3, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 1/2, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53mm, f/8, 1/2, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 66mm, f/8, 0.6, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 66mm, f/8, 0.6, ISO-1600

Somewhere along the way the kids, likely one of my sons, found some fish jaws.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 66mm, f/8, 0.6, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 66mm, f/8, 0.6, ISO-1600

While these images of small sea shells started out as a little experiment it made me realize that sea shells can be wonderful photographic subjects. I intend on pursuing this a bit further with some larger shells, and on a less casual basis with my next attempt.

I will likely not use the touch screen for focusing with macro-type images again as it was not as precise as I would have liked when compared to using single point AF. Another issue that I will be more conscious of next time is how quickly the subject goes out of focus due to the curvature of the shells when doing close up work with extension tubes.

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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.

4 thoughts on “Photographing small sea shells with Nikon 1 J4”

  1. Tom:
    This is a super idea for those at home days during the cold days of our Canadian winter. I will give this a try and see what photographic creations I can make with my Nikon macro lens.

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