Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

Started Apr 2, 2014 | Questions thread
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,359
Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

I've done some (live) butterfly shooting with the 105vr.   Flash helps a lot.   It's critical to get as parallel as possible to the specimen, and even then you'll have antennae going out of the focus plane.

My advice is to spend a few hours getting set up 'right'.   Finding out the best aperture (likely F16-F22), and completely controlling the lighting.

I'm not sure as to what results you'd get from ring lighting, but the 105 has enough working distance to put a couple of speedlites at 45 degree angles to nicely illuminate the subjects.   Even better if you can put together a tent or diffusion dome, or at least some diffusers over the flashes.   I do think two would be enough - don't need to carry 6 of them at least.

As for controlling the lighting, you will be working long hours at this.   If you have strong daylight coming into the scene, the lighting will be changing over time.   You want to eliminate that, and shoot in raw, so that you can apply the same color balance adjustment to the entire shoot.   In your setup, I'd start with a whibal card in there.   Later on you can use something like CaptureNX2 to take an eyedropper sample of the whibal card to get an adjustment to apply (to all subsequent shots using that lighting).  Since you'll be stopped down quite a bit, it's likely you won't have much, or any, effect from ambient lighting, but I'd still block any windows and beware of overhead flourescents.

I don't know if lighting angles are really important on butterflies, to bring out certain patterns or fluorescence.   Hopefully you don't have to be adjusting angles constantly, but can bring out a specimen, put it in the right spot, refocus on it, and get a a couple of quick shots without adjusting any lighting or camera position.

Anyone experienced shooting butterflies use a polarizer?  (With flash?)  Any usefulness there?

Bring spare batteries and a good charger (Maha) for the flash batteries.   Sounds like you'll be swapping them out a fair amount through the shoot.

Will you be shooting all the specimens against the same backdrop?  (Thinking some will show up better than others at any particular color.)

Do you have a tripod with a geared head?   Macro rail?

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