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A short lesson on macro flash..


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#1 Arlon

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:33 PM

I use flash for most of my macro. One thing I've learned is how important light is for your macro shots. 

 

I use a few different diffusers that I made for free to accomplish most of my lighting needs. 

 

I simply set my camera on the bench and decide where I want my light to go. I much prefer soft light for macro so that means I might need a diffuser but it has to put the light into the proper plane... 

 

Here are some of my diffusers to give an idea of how I make and use them. 

 

Here are three examples of my cobbled together flash diffusers. I start with the top reflector and simply work my way down. I start with foam core cut to shape (often takes a few trimmings to get the way I want) and then start taping into position. Once I'm happy with the looks of temporary solution (Gorilla tape) I take them out for a test run. I usually end up with some tweaks then when satisfied the light is going where I want it, I "weld" them up with hot glue. 

 

My favorite diffuser material is a white Fed Ex padded envelope. The bubbles and opaque envelop seem to make for a really good diffuser. I also make maskes for the front of them that have a round or oval opening. On some shiny bugs the square catch light is not the best. A simple mask on the front fixes that. 

 

 

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This is my favorite. I provides top light, some back light and the stand/support in the front acts like a reflector for som front light. Only problem is it's big and scares a lot of bugs off and simply can't get it into tight places but for the right subject the light is great. 

 

 

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Here is a sample using this flash. Look closely at the shadows. 

 

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Edited by Arlon, 19 May 2017 - 04:37 PM.

D50, D90, D100 IR, D700, D800E and a bunch of old manual lenses..
D70 IR (stolen), D200 (stolen)

#2 Arlon

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:36 PM

I start with a taped together "mockup". I test this version until I'm satisfied then glue them up with hot glue, carefully removing the Gorilla tape. 

 

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In it's permanent configuration. 

 

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Some samples from the front facing flash.

 

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Edited by Arlon, 19 May 2017 - 02:11 PM.

D50, D90, D100 IR, D700, D800E and a bunch of old manual lenses..
D70 IR (stolen), D200 (stolen)

#3 Arlon

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:36 PM

Tall top flash. I like this one a lot. It gives good light but is far enough up that it really doesn't bother the bugs at all. 

 

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Image from this diffuser:

 

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Edited by Arlon, 19 May 2017 - 01:50 PM.

D50, D90, D100 IR, D700, D800E and a bunch of old manual lenses..
D70 IR (stolen), D200 (stolen)

#4 james23p

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:51 PM

Oh wow how creative and very well done Arlon thanks for sharing!

 

Jim


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#5 Wheatsack

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:45 PM

Wow... thanks for the info...and your secrets Arlon. Very inventive.


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#6 Peter

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:00 PM

Arlon, very well done. I have one question... how do you get some of your backgrounds so dark? And I have one comment... I like how your workbench has some kick a$$ speakers on it - you have your priorities correct there :D .

 

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#7 Old Dog New Tricks

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:07 PM

Thanks for sharing. I'm always looking for new projects.  While I love my birds I need to expand my repertoire.  I get foam board signs from work, so I have a steady supply.


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#8 Dennis

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:23 PM

You have such an ingenuity. Great stuff

Thanks, Dennis.

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#9 Arlon

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:04 PM

Arlon, very well done. I have one question... how do you get some of your backgrounds so dark? And I have one comment... I like how your workbench has some kick a$$ speakers on it - you have your priorities correct there :D .

 

Peter

LOL, I have a special little work space next to the garage. It's a really small closed room but has a nice Pioneer receiver, Dual turn table and those Cerwin Vega speakers. There is also an apartment sized fridge for refreshments. I love listening to real records while I'm piddling around. It's amazing how our ears have dummied down to the digital music experience. (-:}

 

 

I "adjust" my background by how much ambient light I let in. I like most of my exposure to come from the flash, very little from the ambient light. Shoot raw and I can bring up the shadows quite a lot if I want to. My typical setting is Shutter speed of 1/250 sec, ISO 100 F16-22. That really cuts down on the background light then use flash for exposing the subject. The diffusers really help with making the subject look better and control harsh shadows. I use an SB800 flash and it is set between 1/16-1/4 power.. 


D50, D90, D100 IR, D700, D800E and a bunch of old manual lenses..
D70 IR (stolen), D200 (stolen)

#10 Art

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 03:42 AM

Arlon,

 

You are an amazing Master Cobbler of photographic equipment!

 

What a great post.  Well done.

 

The light those devices throw is amazing.


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#11 Peter

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 09:57 AM

I "adjust" my background by how much ambient light I let in. I like most of my exposure to come from the flash, very little from the ambient light. Shoot raw and I can bring up the shadows quite a lot if I want to. My typical setting is Shutter speed of 1/250 sec, ISO 100 F16-22. That really cuts down on the background light then use flash for exposing the subject. The diffusers really help with making the subject look better and control harsh shadows. I use an SB800 flash and it is set between 1/16-1/4 power.. 

Arlon,

You have mastered the science and art of using the perfect amount of flash to properly expose the subject while isolating the background. Also, I can see how the diffusers channel the light directly at the subject without wasting or spilling any light elsewhere. Again, very well done.



#12 Sailjunkie

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:59 AM

Many thanks for sharing, Arlon.

 

On the other thread that you posted, I asked if you used flash.  I definitely have my answer!  You are clearly a master of DIY!  :)


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#13 Herman

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 01:32 PM

Very nice, creative and informative, Arlon!

 

Thank you for sharing your practical experiences with us. Am sure it will provide our macro image activities with a boost...

 

:)


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#14 Arlon

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:05 PM

These things are really easy to cobble together. I have a stack of foam core scraps and a roll of tape. I've done a few for a specific picture and then thrown them away. Foam core and Fed Ex envelopes can be very handy. You can add reflectors, side blinds, etc. to these with a little tape, push pin. I also use some thin cardboard to make masks to change the shape of the catch light. It's actually kind of fun to play with. Sheets of thin foam core from the hobby store, a utility knife, some duct tape and hot glue will have you in all kinds of light directing business! Just be careful with those utility knifes, they are sharp! (-:}


Edited by Arlon, 20 May 2017 - 06:07 PM.

D50, D90, D100 IR, D700, D800E and a bunch of old manual lenses..
D70 IR (stolen), D200 (stolen)

#15 fotofill

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 10:46 PM

What I like about your macros is the depth of field is always deep.


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