Wow, thanks guys. That again is the hand-held reverse-lens macro. It was Monday and it was cold and there were a few bees semi-comatose in the garden. Very docile. So I snatched a blooming camellia and scooped up Mr. Sleepy Bee and went into my garage, which is quickly becoming my studio. Set it up under a 100-watt and as soon as he got warmed up, the bee went right back to grabbing pollen. I only got a few shots before he flew away. Image is full frame, 1/100 sec, ISO 200. I retouched out a dust speck that was on the lens and applied very minimal USM, but other than that, this is right off the SD card.
The hand-held reverse-lens macro technique is a pain in the ass, but I'm getting the hang of it. I have two variations that I have worked out. #1 is an old 35-80 lens literally held backwards against the lensless camera body. Aperture wide open and I taped the lens down at 35mm. As soon as I starting thinking of it as a loupe and not a lens, I became more comfortable with the process. Variation #2 is using two lenses. A 210mm zoom attached to the camera as normal, and the same 35-80 being held backwards against the 210. This is pretty cumbersome to say the least, so I've just resorted to taping the lenses together with painters tape. I do a lot of test firing to get the lighting because I am sans-aperture here, and there are no readings to be had from the camera. So far it is unpredictable what the lighting needs will be for any given shot. Method #1 is not nearly as extreme as #2 (see my previous penny pics as an example), but I am finding that the extreme magnification of #2 is usually out of range of being useful. Too close.
Also, since the DoF is painfully small, and the shutter speeds are not so zippy, I shoot in burst mode. Knowing that 1/4 of a millimeter is the difference between focus and blur, I just brace myself, the camera, the lens... then exhale and hold that shutter down. Like the Soldier of Fortune t-shirt says, "shoot'em all and let Lightroom sort them out later".
Since I've started doing this, I have discovered that Nikon makes reversing adapters for this very purpose and for both configurations I mentioned above. They will be ordered within the next day or so. Along with a set of triggers that ValleyFan hooked us up with.
I figured you already knew about the reversing rings, otherwise I'd have mentioned them to you.
You can find them CHEAP on eBay!! You can also find those triggers CHEAP on eBay. I'm sure Sam had as much fun wiring them up as he did using them. Me? I'd probably solder my fingers together.
Extension tubes are good, too. Promaster makes a nice set for Nikon or Canon for about $140. Reversing rings are much cheaper and probably give you better magnification. But you won't have the ability to set f-stops using the ring.
Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Bullets are cheap. Life is priceless.
When I was out shooting signs for the #2 photo challenge (here), I would occasionally have to hide in my car from the rain (I'm shooting a 5D, which is not weather sealed, and I don't have a rain bag for it). This is from my 135mm shooting at f/2.0, at it's minimum focusing distance, shooting the windshield of my car (passenger side, so about 3' focal distance). I was amazed at how narrow the depth of field was.