Lighting tips for field macro?

Started Apr 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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clengman
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Lighting tips for field macro?
Apr 20, 2012

I've got an olympus e-pl1 and recently purchased a vivitar 2x macro teleconverter to use with my fd mount 50mm f/1.8 lens. This is my first foray into macro photography.

I've also got a vivitar df-293 flash (It's a midpowered tilt/swivel TTL hotshoe flash) and sync cable to use it off camera.

I've been trying this combo out in my garden and I'm pretty pleased with the lens so far. It's not fantastic, but it was really inexpensive seeing as the 50mm lens was free.

I'm not as happy with the quality of the light from the flash, though. For some subjects it's okay, but the other day I was photographing ants on a peony bud. The bud is a hard shiny sphere about an inch in diameter. I was really having a hard time getting the light on to the insects without causing a large, blown highlight somewhere on the flower bud. I didn't find the shadows to be objectionable, the flash is very large and very close relative to the subject, but the highlights looked terrible. So...

1) I'm wondering if a diffuser will help solve this problem.

AND

2) Ultimately I'd like to be able to take a fairly compact kit with me when I'm out hiking. So far I can put: camera with kit zoom, 40-150 zoom, large flash, 50mm lens and macro converter along with a gorilla pod and sync cable and some filters in my Tamrac Adventure 3 messenger bag with very little room to spare. I'd love to find some kind of collapsible softbox or diffuser that might fold up and fit in the front pocket of my small camera bag.

Anybody have any ideas or experience with anything like this? Budget is important. DIY is fun. Thanks for your thoughts!

 clengman's gear list:clengman's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Rokinon 7.5mm 1:3.5 UMC Fisheye CS +4 more
Olympus PEN E-PL1
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