Closeups in Harsh Light
Often I find myself shooting in less than ideal conditions and if I waited for perfect weather or light Id rarely get a chance to shoot, so one of the things that I wanted to teach myself was how to photograph insects using a mix of natural light and flash. Since portrait photographers often under expose the ambient light in a scene and then use a flash to expose the subject I thought that would be a good place to start. After reading several examples at Strobist (a site that you should all be reading as well) I set out to play. This is what Ive learned so far
The trick is to keep the sun at an angle that's either to the side or behind you. The sun is going to be your light source for the background, and the sun + the flash will be your light source for the subject. You want to under expose the background to force the colors to saturate (I'm not shooting in good light) and to use just enough flash to keep the subject from being too dark to see any detail. I shoot in m
Dragons In Flight TutorialDragons In Flight Tutorial6 years ago in Photography More Like This
Given the choice Id much rather shoot dragonflies on the ground, but there are some species that always seem to be in motion when Im out with the camera. After a few attempts at shooting them in flight, and a lot of trial and error, I found a way to take shots of airborne dragons that seems to work pretty well at least for me Hopefully there will be something in this tutorial that you can use or adapt to your own style of shooting.
I dont have a high end camera so my 40D only has nine auto focus points. Since Im into composing with the view finder and will not allow myself to crop there never seems to be a usable auto focus point the critter is rarely under one of them and the camera is much more likely to lock onto the background. So with the auto focus turned off on a 250mm macro lens (the 180mm L + a 1.4x teleconverter) I set the focus ring on my lens somewhere between the 2 and 5 meter mark the critter is going to have to be close otherw
Shooting Dragonflies TutorialShooting Dragonflies Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
Ive spent a lot of time at Lago deAverno (Lake of Averno) shooting dragonflies. There are several species of them but the most common is the Violet Darter in the photo. After a while you start to pick up on their habits and quirks, and you learn when you can get close and when you're wasting your time. The trick is to find one that's busy. If they are feeding, mating, or otherwise occupied then they are less likely to fly away. If they do fly off then just freeze -if the dragon comes back to the same spot (or close to it) then try again. If the critter lands several meters away from you then look for a new subject to shoot.
If you try to get close to a dragonfly and it takes off then simply freeze, or back up a step and freeze. If the critter comes back to the same perch then odds are it didnt take off because of you; it found something to eat and went after it. The trick is to move slowly and dont vary your pace. Predators often move slowly at first, but speed up for
Shooting Butterflies TutorialShooting Butterflies Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
As beautiful as they are fragile, butterflies are one of my favorite subjects to shoot and one of the most difficult to get close to in the wild. Im often asked how I get so close to them and here is what Ive learned.
Shoot them when they are distracted.
Like all insects, butterflies are more likely to stay put if they are occupied. Go looking for them early in the morning when they are trying to dry out from the previous nights dew, feeding, or mating. In the heat of the day they are very active and less likely to let you get close.
Dont act like a snake.
Predators, like snakes and lizards, move slowly when they are trying to get close to a victim and then speed up for the kill. If you get excited and speed up as you are getting close to a butterfly then you are simply mimicking the motion of a predator. Keep you movements even and slow
Picture the image in your mind.
Know what image you want before you get into position and compose for it as you ar
Macro Technique TutorialMacro Technique Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
Ive been asked a couple of times to do a tutorial on macro photography, and Ive given a few "quick and dirty" explanations on various forums. But its easier to write about it formally in an article and just point someone to a link. So here goes
Disclaimer: I am not the last word, nor in my humble opinion is anyone the last word, on any photographic discipline! There are many different ways to take a photo, and I really dont think that any technique is inherently wrong -just different. In this article Im going to explain how I shoot macro and hopefully there will be something that you can use. The important thing to remember is that my technique was developed based on my experience with a camera -and the things that I do may be detrimental to you! So take my techniques, experiment with them, and adapt them to your own style of shooting. Dont let anyone tell you that you have to have a certain piece of equipment for a particular type of photography
MT-24EX Users GuideMT-24EX Users Guide7 years ago in Photography More Like This
Due to the number of questions Ive received I feel the need to do a step by step guide on how I set up and use the MT-24EX. But before I dive in there are a few things that you need to understand
Ive spent a lot of time experimenting with the MT-24EX and looking for a way to get the light I want from a flash that, out of the box, is really harsh. I started by learning how a flash works from reading the HiViz web site and reading the tutorials at Strobist like Aperant Light Size. There is a huge difference between getting good results with a flash and understanding how youre getting the light that youre seeing in your images. If youre not willing to invest a little time to read those two sites then, IMHO, you should stop reading this tutorial now. Odds are I
Shooting Bees TutorialShooting Bees Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
If youve read my other posts on shooting insects (Shooting Dragonflies: Link and Shooting Butterflies: Link ) then you can photograph the majority of the critters out there. But there are a few more useful tips that I can give you for shooting bees that are different than photographing other creatures so Im listing them here.
Bees feed in a predictable pattern, both in the area that they are in and on the flowers that they get nectar from. If you see a bee feeding on a flower and it takes off odds are it will be back later (or one just like it). Honey bees communicate the location of the food sources that they discover, so if there is a flower that they like theyll tell the hive where to find it. Bees feed on different flowers in different ways; some flowers are shallow and its easy for
Sunny 16 Rule for MacroSunny 16 Rule for Macro7 years ago in Photography More Like This
Sometimes I like a black background because it helps to isolate the subject -very handy in situations where the background might ruin the shot because theres just too much going on. But what about those situations where you want to show the subject in its natural environment? When shooting close-ups its easy: Just set you camera to shutter or aperture priority and use a little flash for fill (about -1 1/3 to -2 FEC). The range of exposures will be limited by the amount of natural light and the ISO you want to use, but youll get even lighting throughout the frame.
But what if you dont want to be limited by the available light? What if youd like to shoot at life size with a small aperture to get more depth and at the same time get some ambient light into the scene? You can use what I call the Sunny 16 Rule for Macro, but to understand why it works it helps to know what the Sunny 16 Rule is and how shooting at life size changes the settings.
Left Hand BraceLeft Hand Brace6 years ago in Photography More Like This
I've put off writing this tutorial for a while because the technique I'm going to describe falls into a category that I call a "cheap trick" but it's so useful and results in such razor sharp images that I felt it was time to commit it to words. Even though I stumbled onto it on my own I'm sure that I didn't invent this technique -it's probably as old as macro itself.
I do all of my macro hand held (the critters I go after are normally too active for a tripod to be practical) and I'm always looking for a way to brace the camera. I don't crop and composition is important (keeping the camera steady helps me to place the critter where I want it in the frame). Also the flash can't freeze all of the motion in the scene. No matter how short the flash duration is it will never be short enough to give you sharp details if there is a lot of movement. I'm convinced that a lot of the image softness that people blame on diffraction is really nothing more than a form of "macro motion blur".
Canon 500D Filter TutorialCanon 500D Filter Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
In one of the conversations that I had with Mark Plonsky he mentioned that he had used a 500D close-up filter with his 100mm macro and liked the bokeh that the close-up filter produced. Since I had been having problems with isolating the subject in the areas where I shoot, and I hate spending time in Photoshop doing things with the computer that I could be doing with the gear, I decide to give the 500D a try.
Mark, as usual, was right -the bokeh is excellent!
The 500D does take a little getting use to. I don't think that it gives me less depth of field, but it seems to compress the area of focus in the sense that a scene goes from being in sharp focus to being completely out of focus over a shorter distance. The area of sharp focus is the same as not using it, but the area between sharp and blurry is reduced -if that makes sense. Take a look at the b
Canon's MPE-65mm Macro LensCanon's MPE-65mm Macro Lens7 years ago in Photography More Like This
Another one of those frequently asked questions that I get is about Canons MPE-65mm macro lens. There doesnt seem to be very much information on the web about it even Canons own web site gives very little details. So if youre curious about one of the best pieces of macro equipment on the planet then keep reading
The MPE-65 doesnt really have a focus ring -it is always focused at the maximum magnification that you have it set to and there is no infinity focus. No auto focus either not that it would really do you any good anyway. The depth of field is so thin when shooting at life size and higher magnification that you wouldnt want the camera to decide whats in focus and whats not. One of the reasons why I tell people to stop centering their images, other than the obvious compositional mistake, is that the focus indicators in the view finder don't work when the MPE-65mm macro lens is attached to any Canon camera
Frozen in Time TutorialFrozen in Time Tutorial7 years ago in Photography More Like This
I while back I experimented with water dripping from my kitchen sink, and I did a lot of reading about high speed photography. Even though I really dont have the equipment to do it the right way I wanted to see what I could do, and maybe learn something more about flash photography. What I found out was not what I expected.
Im going to tell you some things that might sound counter intuitive
The goal was to take a photo of a water drop in front of a flower and the get the flowers refraction in the drop. The setup is easy: Just punch a hole in a piece of heavy paper big enough to feed the stem of the flower through, and then tape the stem to the back of the paper. Set the paper in the sink behind the faucet and set the water to dripping rapidly to increase the chance that youll get a drop in the frame when you press the shutter release. Piece of cake, right?
All of my initial water drops suffered from motion blur
I knew that the shutter spe
MR-14EX verses the MT-24EXMR-14EX verses the MT-24EX7 years ago in Photography More Like This
One of the reasons why I started writing was to answer common questions, and one of them is Whats the difference between the MR-14EX and the MT-24EX?. Im no expert, but I own both of those macro flashes so here is my .02 on their strengths and weaknesses and what really separates them. In a nutshell I could say that the MT-24EX allows greater freedom in where the flash heads are placed and call it a day. But things are never quite that easy are they
One note: Both Canon macro flash units can be used to wirelessly control another flash like the 430EX or 580EX (II). The slave flash shows up as a ratio controlled C channel flash on the macro flashs controller. Its very easy to use and works really well.
The MR-14EX has two semi-circular flash heads built into a circular ring that clips directly on to Canons EF-S 60mm, MPE-65mm, and 100mm macro lenses, and it will also clip on to Canons 180mm macro lens (or any other macro le