I have a four way rail but the physical set up for this shot precluded its use. Unfortunately I only have the 50mm to use for the sake of quality, and this means that the camera and its lens must be very close to the subjects, and this could only be accomplished by rocking the tripod forward. This could only be done by having the tripod on two legs rather than using the tripod in conventional fashion which would have had the subjects beyond the most distant reach of the lens. Where the ladybirds decided to consummate their passion did not allow the tripod to rest on three legs. This also precluded focus stacking as I was lucky to get one shot that was in focus.
A big dose of luck with this shot and perhaps a small dose of talent.
Thank you for all comments. I follow the Macro and Close up sections everyday but I hoped that my words may catch the interest of others who only follow the general forum and have not experimented with extension tubes.
Also, there may be others who, like me, have gleaned that vital piece of general knowledge to remember for all time, males and females have different coloured faces, if in fact, those bits are their faces.
This is my first post and it may be a bit long and lame for experts but perhaps my words will help someone just starting in this style of photography. I am posting in the main section, rather than Macro in the hope that I can create an interest for someone to try macro, after all it is a cheap adventure; just needing auto extension tubes and tripod (preferably reversible).
I am by no means an expert on macro photography but I started having fun in this area many years ago, using vintage SLRs that did not have TTL metering and the external light reading required a math calculation to compensate for whichever extension tube was used. Then there was the wait to finish the expensive 24 or 36 exposure film, send for processing and finally view the results, often some failures and hopefully some successes. Digital with TTL metering makes macro life so much cheaper and easier.
To me, there are a couple of types of macro, the opportunity shot and the set shot. A while back, I was in my garden when I came upon two ladybirds (ladybugs) in the apparent act of perpetuating the species. This is an opportunity so I grabbed my camera (D5100), extension tubes and tripod. The subjects were likely to fly off at any stage and my decisions were rushed.
I grabbed the extension tube that I thought would do the job but did not check the camera settings which it turns out were set for a small size jpg from the prior job. Lesson one - always return the camera to the settings normally used. Lesson two, the middle tripod leg is normally forward but in this case it can remain folded as this allows the two outer legs to be the pivot supports that can rock the camera into focus. Better than a monopod for lateral stability.
Lesson three, put the brain into gear and use Liveview instead of contorting the body and using the viewfinder. (old habits die hard) My choice of extension tube was more luck than good management. The subjects are about 3mm across and I was very lucky to get one photo in focus as the depth of field seems to be about 1mm to the rear at the face of the female and maybe 3mm in front of her. Whether a larger band in focus would have been better going back from the face is debateable, as I like the clear spiky texture showing on the leaf. It was a very desiccated Rhubarb leaf.
Lesson four - use burst mode, not single shot, maximise the likelihood of a sharp picture rather than reliance on chance to get a single sharp shot.
I wanted this photo to reflect reality thus it has just been cropped and colours have not been substantially changed.
Lesson five. I had previously photographed a tape measure by using the various extension tubes and noting the width of view in each case. Can never find the record sheet when needed. Recent copying of slides provided an easy "aide-memoire". My DX camera, with 36mm extension tube attached to a 50mm FX prime lens (field of view equivalent 75mm) will exactly frame the film part of a 35mm slide. Much easier to remember and to then judge whether the tube needs to be larger or smaller. .
Hope that this rather wordy effort is of use to someone and perhaps it will bring out mores hints from others.
I am not expert on these things but let me thouw my two ceants worth in. Your first post said that your computer sshpwed some message "no photos found.
This suggests to me that you are using some photo programme which you have not identified and your problem is most likely within that programme. If you are using such a programme then I recommend that you ignore it for the moment. If your camera can "see" the image files then all is well. As mentioned in other posts, protect the sd card by locking it then insert it into the slot in your computer; if it is a micro sd card then you may need to use an adaptor. Windows 10 should automatically open the card but if it does not do so, then use file explorer.
If all fails then do the same procedure on a friends computer. Your camera is telling the truth as it can see the images, but your photo programme or the computer may be at fault, most likely any photo programme which you may be using.
You should be able to see the image files within a folder titled DCIM
You did well to get those great shots, I love them all.
I have a D5100 with the usual kit zoom lenses. When faced with exactly your issue, I went with the FX 50mm f1.8
I might get a full frame one day (actually not really likely)
It produces sharp images (but I understand that the 35mm will do likewise)
It is great for portraits with its more restricted field of view
It is a respectable length for extension tube work (cannot afford a dedicated macro lens and the front element does not need to be crushing the subject)
It is acceptable for panoramas when set in portrait mode
It is light, not heavy
In theory, it is using the sharpest part of the lens in the central area.
Your choice will be dictated by the type of photography you are interested in.
Very good photos; he is beautiful and no doubt keeps any vermin away. Of course, if you are patting him then make sure that you do not rub him the wrong way. It is a bit hard to get him to pose with some object that would give size perspective, but let me ask this, if you touch him would you lose a hand or just a bite size chunk out of the hand?
I think that you may be on the wrong track, wrong era , wrong generation.
"A stormtrooper is a fictional soldier in the Star Wars franchise"
I also have the D5100 with kit lenses, and as a very keen amateur, like you, the camera and lens suffice for most jobs that I will ever tackle. This gear is of sufficient capability to keep most photographers quite happy and the scope to produce really great photos rests in the talent of the person holding the camera.
It sounds as though you are happy with the quality of what you produce and a new zoom lens is a somewhat high price to pay for little gain.
In an earlier response there was a mention of purchasing a prime lens and this is something that I agree with. When I took this course and stuck with Nikon, I had the (economic) choice of a DX 35mm or FX 50mm. I choose the FX 50mm just in case I ever get a full frame; however, on the D5100 it is an excellent walking around lens, great for portraits, good for extension tube work at one end of the scale, and at the other end of scale it adequately handles landscapes, particularly panoramas taken in portrait mode. A good prime combines well with the kits lenses which are reasonable quality anyhow. The major deficiency of kit lenses is lack of speed, but in good light, it is not a factor. If I happen to find the 50 mm too long, I just revert back to the shot lit lens and set at about the 35mm mark which seems to be the sweet spot.
This could start a long debate as to what prime anyone should purchase.