Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

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TQGroup
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Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
6 months ago

I've volunteered to photograph a very extensive butterfly collection. I plan to use my D600 + Nikon 105 VR lens. Has anyone any experience or suggestions?

Is IQ still good at F22 or is there a significant impact from diffraction with this combination?

I'm thinking of using a colour corrected led ring light... will this work OK? If so, should I use even lighting or offset to render more "depth" to the images?

As the collection numbers well over 10,000; throughput speed is important. Thanks in advance for your advice!

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StillLearning
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

I've volunteered to photograph a very extensive butterfly collection. I plan to use my D600 + Nikon 105 VR lens. Has anyone any experience or suggestions?

Is IQ still good at F22 or is there a significant impact from diffraction with this combination?

I'm thinking of using a colour corrected led ring light... will this work OK? If so, should I use even lighting or offset to render more "depth" to the images?

As the collection numbers well over 10,000; throughput speed is important. Thanks in advance for your advice!

Only have experience shooting live ones.  Are you shooting one at a time or more than one?  You probably want F16 because quality does fall off at F22 unless you are needing the extra DOF.  Are you shooting off a wall or table top?

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to StillLearning, 6 months ago

Thanks for your interest in my issue. I plan to shoot each one individually so they can be catalogued for posterity and then they will likely be donated by the owners to a National museum. I plan to shoot on a table and I will set up an inverted tripod or some other "rig" when I arrive at the overseas city in July. BTW, this is a pro bono job.

If I can shoot at F16, that should provide sufficient DOF as some of these butterflies are quite large and there is a significant distance variation between the body and the edge of the wingtip.

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StillLearning
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

Thanks for your interest in my issue. I plan to shoot each one individually so they can be catalogued for posterity and then they will likely be donated by the owners to a National museum. I plan to shoot on a table and I will set up an inverted tripod or some other "rig" when I arrive at the overseas city in July. BTW, this is a pro bono job.

If I can shoot at F16, that should provide sufficient DOF as some of these butterflies are quite large and there is a significant distance variation between the body and the edge of the wingtip.

You should be able to shoot F16 since I shoot F11 and F13 with a DX camera.  When I was shooting with a FX camera I would shoot F16.  Lighting maybe the challenge then.  What were your plans in that area?  I never had to worry about shadows when dealing with live ones on flowers and such.  Are shadows going to be a concern?  You may want to consider a polarizer to help cut down on the glare from your lights.

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rankamaterur
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to StillLearning, 6 months ago

Good info from StillLearning.

The 105 will be fine. I agree with StillLearning w.r.t. aperture choices. I would add that the LED light panel would probably be fine, but if it were me, I'd use strobes, for more control and virtually unlimited light. Some cheap speedlights on simple arms or lightstands would give you more creative options, and in a project like this, it all comes down to lighting. By the way, the "Studio and Lighting Technique" forum here on DPReview is super helpful, and there are some very knowledgeable folks over there.

If you are really going to photograph all 10,000 specimens, you have a mind-numbing chore ahead of you. I would think about rigging up a copy stand, so the camera can be positioned directly over your subjects, and you can easily move the camera up and down for larger/smaller objects. I am assuming that the collection is mounted flat, like stuck on a pin or something, so you don't really need a ton of depth of field. Some butterfly collections are presented in boxes under glass, which adds another complexity.

Likewise, I am assuming that you are going for more of a documentation project than an artistic one. The lighting, backgrounds, and presentation might be somewhat different for the two cases.

One more thing to consider is tethering your camera to a laptop or whatever, or perhaps at least running the cable from the HDMI output to a nice big monitor, so you can frame and focus the shots from a comfy chair, without peering through the viewfinder.

Have fun with it, and post a couple examples when it's all done,

Jim

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Photofunster
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

I have an interest in your proposed photography assignment.

If possible, please share a 'link later', where your photographs with choices of these butterflies can be viewed.

Or just email me some to admire even.

thanks

Chas

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dave gaines
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Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

Yes, you'll need flash to get the f-stops you want indoors. I shoot f/22 all the time with macro and have less trouble with diffraction than I do with DOF. A minor, imperceptable bit of diffraction is better than major OOF area due to shallow DOF.

Check the DOF of this lens at various f-stops and expected distances so you'll know what DOF you can achieve. It's difficult to calculate DOF for a macro lens but you can find it experimentally by photographing an angled metric scale. Place the scale at a known angle (30 or 45) by using a protractor or drafting angle. Divide by the cosine of the angle to get the actual distances from the sensor of an OOF point on the scale at an angle. A LensMark or other brand focus target and scale ($80) will give you similar results.

Rather than a ring light with colored gel you could use two speedlights with or without gels. You only need to overpower any room light that may be a different color. You can apply universal white balance adjust later if needed. Shoot a white and grey card under the same lighting to set a custom WB or gage WB later. Refelections on glass may be a reason why the ring light will not work.

I assume these 10,00 butterflies are preserved behind glass, in cases on pins. Glass or no glass, set up the dual lights on stands at 45 degrees to the glass surface, background board or lens axis to avoid reflections back at the camera. The stands could be as simple as plastic flash bases taped to a chair or stool above the table.

Dual flash can be triggered by radio sync or by the camera if they are Nikons, or by direct sync cable from the hot shoe or PC sync terminal. Use a splitter wire for two flash. If the flash have PC, 3.5 mm mini or mono plug jacks it's easy to connect. If not, you can use a hot shoe adapter on any flash. FlashZebra has all of these connectors and wires for not very much cost compared to radio transmitters.

You can shoot in manual flash control and not need to adjust settings again, once you find optimum exposure.

You could use 2 daylight bulbs in cheap reflectors if the wattage is high enough. You could buy these bulbs and reflectors for cheap once you get there and just leave them behind.

Experiment with all these ideas before going.

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Antal I Kozma
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

I've volunteered to photograph a very extensive butterfly collection. I plan to use my D600 + Nikon 105 VR lens. Has anyone any experience or suggestions?

Is IQ still good at F22 or is there a significant impact from diffraction with this combination?

I'm thinking of using a colour corrected led ring light... will this work OK? If so, should I use even lighting or offset to render more "depth" to the images?

As the collection numbers well over 10,000; throughput speed is important. Thanks in advance for your advice!

Brave man...................

No disrespect but if you need to ask how to do this then you have a very brave approach to taking on a serious job, Pro Bono or not.

If glass is involved then you have to work out an angle so that you do not get reflection. If the glass can be temporarily removed then you have a much easier task on hand.

If you shoot through glass then mask your camera. Like be behind a black non reflective board or fabric with a lens opening to see through.

As of bringing the best out of your subject do not use even light. I suppose you will photograph the butterflies in a position where your plane of the camera sensor ( or film ) will be parallel to the plane of your subject. For example like how an Architectural Plan View drawing depicts the subject.

If you light evenly you'll lose detail in the texture of your subject. Which in case of photographing butterflies is not a good thing. The fine structure of wing pattern and hair on the torso does not come through well. So balance two lights , let's say left and right, in a ratio so that one will be the dominant side light for texture while the other will assure that no distracting shadow will form on the less lit side. Furthermore, you may introduce fill cards to further dilute any shadow effects and possibly creating a catch light if needed.

Small crumpled pieces of alu-foil may serve well for catch light and any white piece of cardboard for softening elsewhere.

Think like you are illuminating an aeroplane and you are photographing it from straight above. The uneven balance between the two main lights, left and right from an angle of 30-40, will define shape and texture. The lower your side light is the more defined the texture gets. Disclaimer; do not go too low, experiment with the angle. Then you'll use the alu-foil reflector to create a small catch light on the window of the aeroplane and the nose of the plane. White cardboard piece(s) can provide shadow softening from the tail end.

All this may sound complicated but in practice it is not. Just invest some time into your first shot and you'll have a smooth sailing with the rest. I have shot thousand of setups from jewellery through small product shots to food and developed techniques that became basic setup standards. You will not need to create "artistic" lighting but to aim for a pleasing documentary style.

Also, practice at home in advance on a piece of shiny fabric with fine pattern. It is as close to your real life subject as it gets. Prop a small butterfly shape up, glue the fabric to a cardboard and cut a shape out, then you can experiment with your lighting. This exercise will give you basic points that will make you look very professional on site.

Good luck and all the best,
AIK,:-)

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Antal I Kozma
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

I've volunteered to photograph a very extensive butterfly collection. I plan to use my D600 + Nikon 105 VR lens. Has anyone any experience or suggestions?

Is IQ still good at F22 or is there a significant impact from diffraction with this combination?

I'm thinking of using a colour corrected led ring light... will this work OK? If so, should I use even lighting or offset to render more "depth" to the images?

As the collection numbers well over 10,000; throughput speed is important. Thanks in advance for your advice!

One more thing I should have mentioned. If you shoot parallel to your subject then f11-16 should work.

AIK

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to rankamaterur, 6 months ago

Thanks for the tips, Jim, especially the armchair idea I figure, at one pix a minute, its about a 21 day ordeal... me and my big !!!

Your assumptions are right, accurate "scientific" shots one by one, of dead insects, ahem, beautiful butterflies with a pin for a centrepiece.

I will consider the strobe idea, but since I have to fly overseas with my gear, less is more. But I will obviously experiment / practice before I go.

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to StillLearning, 6 months ago

Thanks a lot for the ideas. I will experiment with a polarizer and other shadow management techniques. And I will start off with F16 and I expect that will give me enough DOF.

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TQGroup
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to dave gaines, 6 months ago

Thank you for the detailed suggestions. The "victims" will not be behind glass but in all their pinned natural spendour. I do have PW radio triggers and SB910's so I can set up a 45 degree rig. For traveling convenience, I prefer to stick to a ring light if it will work in my testing. I do have gels but I believe the ring light will give me 5500C. Once again for all the detailed advice!

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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Photofunster, 6 months ago

I am sure the collection owners will have no problem with me meeting your request.

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Antal I Kozma, 6 months ago

Thank you AIK for your detailed advice. I agree that a multiple flash setup using PW radio controllers and an AC3 zone controller is the optimum setup - but that means extra stands, etc to pack for travel overseas... not too easy with the weight restrictions in "cattle class"!

I appreciate the need to render texture faithfully and I am hoping to be able to activate variable (from one side to the other) power on the ring light balanced with natural ambient light.

I have some knowledge of macro photography but not of butterflies and so, after only 50 years of experience in photography I still appreciate the need to learn. Even more, I appreciate people like yourself helping me!

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Photofunster
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

I hope your current opportunity helps provide you other future adventures that reward.

Thanks for the positive reply, that would be a pleasant experience. Quite honestly, these butterfly threads make me a bit sad, in that I got rid of my own wonderful specimens, and never really missed them much, until very recently.

So seeing the ones the kind folks share, has been a sort of unobtrusive therapy.

Looking forward to viewing yours too.

Chas

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Photofunster, 6 months ago

Chas, I share your "twinges"!

Many, many moons ago I also had a collection and passed it on...

This opportunity is through a very good friend who shares ownership of this very extensive and, in some ways unique, collection. The plan is to photograph, catalogue and then make this collection available freely on the 'net as the rapid degradation of the natural habitats of these specimens means they do not have a bright future in situ.

My responsibility is limited to the "calloused finger" part...

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Photofunster
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

Well, I think you're awfully lucky to have this to look forward to.

On Pins And Needles...?

Oh yeah, you need to use fine tweezers to handle them, as if you didn't know.

Too Delicate To Touch

Can't wait to learn about some new ones.

Chas

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Araldite
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 6 months ago

Just a thought, if is possible do them in groups of the same size. Ring flash would be a good idea as it will cause no shadows (virtually none)

Do 1 to 2 hours at a time and have a break away from what you are doing.

Have an assistant to bring and remove the butterflies

Have plenty to drink.

If you get stressed towards the end of the day, pack up and come back next day.

GOOD LUCK

David

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Araldite, 6 months ago

Thanks for the advice David. I'll pass on your advice about "assistants" to the two collection owners I most certainly will drink... do you suggest red or white?:-)

Seriously, I've a "production line" concept in mind and it will be interesting to see the throughput per hour!

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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to dave gaines, 6 months ago

Thanks once again, Dave! I've been doing a bit more research and notice that Nikon have a "R1" kit that looks neat and compact. Have you, or anyone else had experience with this animal? Is it "butterfly friendly"?

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