Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

Started Apr 2, 2014 | Questions thread
Antal I Kozma Senior Member • Posts: 2,471
Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

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,

 Antal I Kozma's gear list:Antal I Kozma's gear list
Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Phase One Capture One Pro Nikon D810 Nikon D500 Olympus E-M1 II +21 more
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