Lighting macros

Started Jul 24, 2010 | Discussions
Duncan C
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Lighting macros
Jul 24, 2010

I haven't done a lot of shooting lately, but I'm on vacation on Cape Cod, and brought my camera.

I like shooting insect macros. I shoot handheld, and shoot skittish insects like butterflies, dragonflies, bees, etc. Thus, I need fast shutterspeeds. I also use small apertures to maximize the limited DOF. That combination means I need tons of light.

I've used all different kinds of lighting setups over the years, including dual flash macro brackets, a dedicated TTL ring-flash, etc, etc.

Believe it or not, my favorite macro rig is a little pop-up diffuser that I got from eBay for about $10 US. It attaches to the front of the lens and I fire my hot-shoe flash through it. It gives MUCH better light than my $400 TTL ring-light, and is easier to use.

Here's a picture of it:

Here are a couple of pictures I took today:

Note the subtle, soft-edged shadows under the butterfly.

Note the soft highlight on the butterfly's eye. Most of the other macro rigs I've used produce very stark, ugly, unnatural highlights.

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lbdina
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 24, 2010

Impossible! You CAN"T like that better than your other expensive gear.....Hell, it only cost you $10! What's the world coming to?

;> )

Oh yeah....nice images.

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mayonaka
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 24, 2010

Makes sense. Compared to the size of the subject, that's like producing a cloudy day or a specular cloudy day with the sun piercing through the clouds slightly. I wish I had a life size (human sized) soft box that big, but they aren't readily available and you're forced to make your own. Still cool, plus I don't think my Alien Bees would hold the weight of a 100 foot soft box attached to it! lol

Nice photo...

Chris
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slowhands
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to mayonaka, Jul 24, 2010

Psst.... Make yourself a diffusion panel of whatever size you like with PVC pipe (or copper), or even wood... and cover with white ripstop nylon fabric... you can fire your AB's thru the diffusion panel. Position AB back from the panel so it "fills the space"

Downside...difficult to position up/above your subject....however, it is possible.

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StillLearning
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 24, 2010

I found a use for my GF LS II. It does well for macros. These are with a D200 and 105 VR.

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efrench
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 24, 2010

This was done with even less money expended

Materials: One 12"x12" piece of aluminum foil, one Kleenex tissue, two pieces of masking tape .75"x.75".

Construction: Tape one edge of the Keenex to the aluminum foil about 8 inches from one side. Place the Aluminum foil over the pop-up flash and drape the free end of the Kleenex over the lens. The outboard end of the aluminum foil can be supported by anything handy or the sides can be rolled up to make it self supporting.

This was also focus stacked from 40 individual images using Zerene Stacker. Magnification is about 4X.
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drh681
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 24, 2010

In relative terms it looks like an 86 inch soft box!

Now I'll have to go scrounge about ebay for that thing.
I hate going to ebay.
it's like a dryed out drunk going to mardigras...

gotta call my sponsor...
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Duncan C
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Re: Home-made macro diffuser
In reply to efrench, Jul 24, 2010

I've created a home-made rig also. I made mine out of a plastic gallon milk jug (which may be a container unique to the USA)

Here's a picture:

Click the link to read a description of how I made it:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/image/82449423

The milk jug rig works almost as well as the pop-up diffuser, but isn't nearly as convenient. The milk jug diffuser is bulky and doesn't fit in my camera bag, while the pop-up diffuser folds into a tiny case about the diameter of a teacup.

Duncan C
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http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Duncan C
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Finding a pop-up macro diffuser on eBay
In reply to drh681, Jul 30, 2010

Here is a search that should find one of these diffusers on eBay:

http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=Diffuser+for+on-camera+flash%2Fspeedlight&_armrs=1&_from=R40&_ipg=&_trksid=m37

Regards

Duncan C
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http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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casperskitty
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to drh681, Jul 30, 2010

drh681 wrote:

In relative terms it looks like an 86 inch soft box!

Now I'll have to go scrounge about ebay for that thing.
I hate going to ebay.
it's like a dryed out drunk going to mardigras...

gotta call my sponsor...

LOL!

You aren't the only one with a problem. I am serieously addicted ot ebay and craigslist. I check craigslist several times a day. I mean, you never know what might show up and if it's good, you might miss it. And ebay, I could spend hours there looking for junk I don't need but that I can get at a great price.
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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 30, 2010

I agree with your choice of lighting...Yes, a soft, diffused ambient light source is the best way to go. I don't shoot insects myself...but macro florals and closeup flower shots are my forte.

Here's a few examples:

http://kvincentphotography.ca/macro
http://kvincentphotography.ca/designerflorals

For indoor studio work I use 3 or 4 ALZO Digital 600W continuous FL (5600K) diffused heads with a Lastolite studio cubelite setup.

BTW, nice pics.

KEV

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v_
v_
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Re: Finding a pop-up macro diffuser on eBay
In reply to Duncan C, Jul 31, 2010

Thanks for the info! Sure, this diffuser is much more compact, than the jug piece.
Easy to carry in a small bag. Great images!

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Duncan C
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, Aug 5, 2010

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

I agree with your choice of lighting...Yes, a soft, diffused ambient light source is the best way to go. I don't shoot insects myself...but macro florals and closeup flower shots are my forte.

One downside of this setup is that since the diffuser is so close to the subject, the light falls off VERY rapidly behind the subject.

(This is because of the inverse square law. If the diffuser is 2 inches from the subject, then objects 4 inches from the subject will be 2 stops darker, and objects 8 inches from the subject will be 16 times darker (unlit)

Here's a few examples:

http://kvincentphotography.ca/macro
http://kvincentphotography.ca/designerflorals

For indoor studio work I use 3 or 4 ALZO Digital 600W continuous FL (5600K) diffused heads with a Lastolite studio cubelite setup.

Don't you find the cubelight to create flat, shadowless light?

BTW, nice pics.

Thanks.
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Duncan C

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http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Lynn David Cole
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What is the size of the hole in the diffuser?
In reply to Duncan C, Aug 5, 2010

Duncan,

I plan to use this diffuser on my Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS (with extension tube) and need to know if it will fit before I order it.

The diameter of the proposed mounting location on the lens is 3 inches.

Do you think it will stretch to fit that diameter?

Lynn
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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Aug 5, 2010

Duncan C wrote:
Don't you find the cubelight to create flat, shadowless light?

No, actually quite the opposite.

The studio cubelite is very big (over 6ft tall and 40 ins wide & deep)...so it allows one to start from a zero shadow environment...and to then introduce shadow effect as desired....which is much better than having 'unwanted' shadow/patterns to begin with...and then having to eliminate or control them.

Also, being able to 100% control the light source from every angle (including underneath the subject) offers a lot of versatility.

And besides, it's a myth that a diffuser tent creates a flat image....anymore, than say a diffused lamp would with an attached softbox. Diffused light is just that...and the 'source' of that diffusion does not change...whether it be via diffuser material in 3 or 4 softboxes.....or 3 or 4 diffuser walls of a tent.

As with any shooting setup, it's up to the photographer to create an optimal end result.

KEV

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stevenjames
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Nice!
In reply to Duncan C, Aug 5, 2010

I just got the far from cheap Nikon R1C1 setup for macro lighting and still learning how to get good in focus hand held pics.
The R1C1 is expnesive but I love controlling multiple flashes with the SU-800.

Steve

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Holger Bargen
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, Aug 5, 2010

I found the article also in Europe at a dealer from Poland:

http://www.foto-tip.pl/sklep/universeller_diffusor-p-1114.html

I ordered mine already.

Best regards
Holger

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Duncan C
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Re: What is the size of the hole in the diffuser?
In reply to Lynn David Cole, Aug 5, 2010

Lynn David Cole wrote:

Duncan,

I plan to use this diffuser on my Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS (with extension tube) and need to know if it will fit before I order it.

The diameter of the proposed mounting location on the lens is 3 inches.

Do you think it will stretch to fit that diameter?

I have the Nikkor 70-200VR, which is nearly identical in size and shape. I measured it,, and get about 3 1/4 inches at the filter threads. I can't get the pop-up diffuser over the end of the lens. I don't think a 3 inch lens would fit either.

The opening in the diffuser is stretchy, but not THAT stretchy. You could probably cut the inside of the diffuser at the opening and glue in a thick piece of elastic to make it stretch wider. They are cheap, so it would be worth a try.

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Regards,

Duncan C

dpreview and PBase supporter.

http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Lynn David Cole
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Re: What is the size of the hole in the diffuser?
In reply to Duncan C, Aug 6, 2010

Thanks Duncan,

I will have to think about your modification idea.

It would be nice if they offered different sizes.

Lynn
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Duncan C
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Re: What is the size of the hole in the diffuser?
In reply to Lynn David Cole, Aug 7, 2010

Lynn David Cole wrote:

Thanks Duncan,

I will have to think about your modification idea.

It would be nice if they offered different sizes.

Lynn
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Lynn David Cole

http://LynnDavidCole.com

I agree. That would be helpful.

Another challenge: I have a stereo macro lens I use to create anaglyph and other stereo images (the kind you need red/cyan colored 3D glasses to see: Check out this link if you have a pair: http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_stereo_anaglyphs )

Here's a picture of the lens:

So far I've just used a flash in the hotshoe, sometimes with a lumiquest bounce attachment. It's not as good as the pop-up diffuser.

I need to figure out a way to attach the pop-up diffuser for this specialized lens. The diffuser needs to attach to the focus guide mounted to the front of the lens. I figure I need to fabricate a metal hoop large enough to shoot through, bolt that to the focus guide near the subject position, and put my pop-up diffuser around the hoop, as if the hoop was the front of a lens barrel.
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Regards,

Duncan C

dpreview and PBase supporter.

http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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