Macro Vinyl

From time to time on this site my hobbies align. Since last year I’ve been slowly building up a small collection of vinyl records, and as I actually bought a few Record Store Day exclusives last month I think this counts as a hobby now. I’m not just some weirdo collector that buys albums and leaves them in the shinkwrap staring at them, of course. The reason I love vinyl is because it sounds better. As a technology lover, I prefer the best forms, not necessarily the newest. I like my photography digital, my movies on film, and my music on vinyl.

But I digress. This post is about the convergence of hobbies. I usually love to edit big batches of photographs to vinyl albums; I find that just letting the music play is less distracting than constantly adding to and tweaking an iTunes playlist as I work. But one day, whilst procrastinating about the photos I had to edit, I instead decided to break out my macro lens and photograph the record as it spun.

I started out with a very macro shot. I wanted to get some level of detail in the needle as it picked up the audio. Clearly what it was also picking up was a bit of fluff.

1/8, f/4.5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/8, f/4.5, ISO 2000, 100mm

Due to there not being great light, I set my macro lens up on a tripod, so you’ll probably see some longish shutter times for the images in this post.

I quickly realised that the original shot was a bit too tight to see anything interesting, so I widened things up a bit (my macro being a prime lens, this meant moving the tripod).

1/10, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/10, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm

Part of my lack of light was caused by shutting up the aperture on the lens a bit. Usually I’d shoot with it wide open at f/2.8 but I wanted to deepen the depth of field and make more of the grooves of the record visible.

I changed the angle again, moving a bit further back and lowering a bit, still searching for the right angle.

1/10, f/4, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/10, f/4, ISO 2000, 100mm

At this point I felt the angle was pretty good, so I tried some more interesting post-processing.

1/20, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/20, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm

I decided that turning the image black and white was a nice look, but I mourned the loss of the strong red centre label. The monochroming did, however, remove some of the wonky colours in the all-colour shots above. So, I chose to use an adjustment brush and selectively monochrome the image apart from the label on the record.

1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm

The effect, I think, looks a lot better than with the slight colour cast that, try as I might, I couldn’t remove. It looked even better when I changed the angle again to get in more of the player arm.

1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/50, f/5, ISO 2000, 100mm

For my final shot I opened up the aperture all the way to f/2.8 for a narrower depth of field.

1/100, f/2.8, ISO 2000, 100mm
1/100, f/2.8, ISO 2000, 100mm

You may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet here for a couple of weeks. I’ve been taking a much-needed break  for a bit. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things, but this has been a short little set of quick shots to ease me back in!

(The record, by the way, was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, because of course it was.)

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