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Featured bugs in the mist, cross polarised

Discussion in 'Nature' started by piggsy, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    We don't often get good shooting conditions for bugs covered in water droplets here - weather's just not right most of the time. But I got lucky earlier this year - we had a cooler night at around 21c, with intermittent mist and drizzle, allowing for droplets to form on resting bugs and the occasional breaks let me get out to shoot them.

    37203243700_9b0e768a75_h. night mist red dragonfly top down by PIG, on Flickr

    36689264994_b9f8b20c46_h. night mist red dragonfly by PIG, on Flickr

    37429600532_b3e3399186_h. night mist red dragonfly by PIG, on Flickr

    You don't get all the time in the world to shoot! The absolute first impulse they have is to wipe the water from their eyes and then shake it off their bodies.

    36811641553_470b65a3ae_h. banded bee fly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    37433487836_96964a1a67_h. banded bee fly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    Since it was late at night and in total darkness natural light shots are out, but luckily I had been working on using cross polarised flash for some time beforehand. The typical thing of getting half your own flash diffuser showing back at you goes away and you can reduce it to a simple pinpoint of light at most - probably a piece of metal or screw on the flash bracket that bypassed the linear polarisation here.

    37482563631_cf43755223_h. banded bee fly in night mist takeoff by PIG, on Flickr

    This bee fly must have some pretty impressively fast wings, since this was almost entirely flash illumination. You can see the last water droplets being shaken off the wing over on the left. Unfortunately a great many shots were something similar but worse than this where the RC preflash disturbed them and the tiny delay between that and the full flash exposure was enough for them to be disturbed into waking.

    36652429064_57c25c2267_h. dragonfly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    23524689328_3133e4488c_h. dragonfly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    The most shots I got of anything, 3 whole exposures into a stack. Always important to keep trying :D 

    36771860154_857092d072_h. dragonfly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    Again, you see the results of their first impulse - here just alerted by my little LEDs turned all the way down. First instinct - clear the water from the eyes and see what's going on.

    37437748041_0bed21d579_h. dragonfly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    This one, at least as I remember, didn't actually wake up before being shot - it was just shielded by some of the blades of grass above. The water didn't form as condensation, but rather fell as rain as it transitioned between mist and drizzling fine rain.

    37390270146_42cdf09aef_h. dragonfly in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    36744204723_76d4af90a1_h. large digger wasp in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    37367319746_876e8fae5f_h. large digger wasp in night mist by PIG, on Flickr

    Shooting conditions were pretty challenging here - as well as being wet and slippery, it was a dense field of tall grass and weed stalks, with lots of part buried concrete and bricks, full of resting bees, spiders and wasps. Also, since you can't really turn your lights up, a lot of the time you're centimetres from the bug straining to see what's in focus on a black object at maximum EVF boost :D 

    These guys are some of the larger specimens you see in Brisbane - well over 30mm long, this one is actually large enough to straddle two different seed heads a short way apart. I believe this is some kind of digger wasp that parasitises large grasshoppers. They look even bigger flying around and they're noisy as hell doing it, just this blurry loud menacing blob flying from grass stalk to grass stalk. Much easier to photograph them at night, even like this.

    Setup was:
    E-P5, Olympus 60mm 2.8, Hoya Fusion CIR-PL, Raynox DCR-150, Nissin i40 and FL-600r flashes with linear polarising film over the heads (and the popup flash also, important!), and this LED light on arms.
    • Winner x 57
    • Wow x 12
    • Like x 5
    • Agree x 1
    • Informative x 1
  2. gnarlydog australia

    gnarlydog australia Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 23, 2015
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damiano Visocnik
    I have been observing your trickle of edited images here and on Flickr but the whole collection as displayed here commands nothing but respect for your technique, determination and passion :clapping:
    This post alone is testament that talent trumps over gear and the puny little sensor (Micro 4/3) holds its ground over the "big boys"
    And while I am always an advocate for less is more (repeated subjects entries often seen on this Forum) your close-up insects captures are superb :hail:
    • Agree Agree x 10
  3. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    You always have the nicest things to say! Thankyou.

    Yeah editing is getting to be a problem. There are a stupid number of photos to go through, I've still got stuff to go through even from when I was in canberra back in december (really good set of robber fly focus stacks and another of flightless flower wasps mating). It's to a point where there are so many that even seeing certain kinds of animals when I'm out shooting gives me some kind of flashback to the 10s of gigs of unsorted photos I already have of whatever. Not kidding, this whole set here in this thread was lost for months, I only found it again short while ago when I went looking for photos of leafcutter bees interacting with flowers for a prof of ecology in our bush care group (it was from when my SDcard reader was eating photos, and this lot was copied to a different HD to test if it was something else).
  4. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    This "sleeping bugs covered with water droplets" thing is completely alien to me; I'm enjoying it very much, and appreciating the balance of northern/southern hemisphere on this site in general at this time of year... :D 
  5. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    I think it's something you get more chances at in a cooler climate, particularly if it's cooler and wet. And probably also some of the shots of dew covered bugs you see around are someone with a squirt bottle making it happen :D  But yeah, personally I've only ever had one chance in the whole time I've been shooting bugs, on a 13c day, randomly coming across a dragonfly in wet grass - the problem here is, when it's cooler it's usually at a very low ebb of insect activity, and also pretty dry, so you just don't get the conditions for it.

    If you want more dragonflies there's a bunch more in this album from around november-march -

    summer dragonflies

    36997473101_7f8dcb269a_h. Dragonfly says hello by PIG, on Flickr

    37098850801_3896a66a52_h. Dragonfly extreme closeup by PIG, on Flickr

    37146134486_4c9cb7a9e9_h. Blue-spotted Hawker by PIG, on Flickr

    37193886631_6c838491ce_h. Blue-spotted Hawker dragonfly closeup by PIG, on Flickr

    37402595085_e9f53da758_h. red dragonfly side closer by PIG, on Flickr

    36608742943_97e6c15b44_h. dragonfly hello also by PIG, on Flickr

    I got partway through dragonflies, got sick of doing them, switched to ones of birds, found this set, did that, now sick of dragonflies again (only so much colour masking of transparent wings you can take doing in a row). There's about as much again to get through processing, which I've probably left too late to get to now that they're going to be back again soonish with the recent rains :D 
    • Winner Winner x 23
    • Like Like x 6
    • Wow Wow x 2
  6. Fabulous work piggsy, amazing skill being shown.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  7. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 29, 2014
    Fantastic images!
  8. ivoire

    ivoire Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2011
    Naperville, IL
    WoW! just WOW! amazing photos!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Hi, great set!

    Some animals are not disturbed by red light; has anyone tried red flashlights with bugs?
  10. Dear Admin,
    Is there anyway to add to the bank of icons - I would like to be able to give 5 stars to this post and other posts of this calibre!
    Best regards
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Thanks for feature!

    Red light - I tried it ages ago, just with a red gel cutout over my regular little LED torch I used at the time. I don't know how it goes for most people but I just found it made it insanely hard to actually find anything because nothing has any colour or much reflective contrast anymore. It was interesting in that you suddenly get an appreciation for how some insect camouflage schemes must actually work vs the predator vision they're designed to defeat (similar to how say viewing through a polariser shows you what animals that can see different polarity must see all the time) but geez it was rough trying to find subjects.

    The one I would like to try eventually is using UV at night - I have never seen centipedes around here but I'm sure they exist and they're one of the bugs that are supposed to glow under it.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
    • Informative Informative x 2
  12. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 25, 2012
    I think "winner" sorta suffices for this need
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    It would be good to get a "featured" icon for the profile medal bar though :D 
  14. onewheeltom

    onewheeltom Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2015
    Cary, NC
    Tom Karches
    Just got the 60mm macro lens yesterday. Any decent budget flashes out there? Camera is E-P5.
  15. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    I can only speak with towards what I've used - the FL600R is much better than the i40 and I'd buy that between them. One FL-600r is totally fine for regular macro flash work. The main thing for doing cross polarisation is that it's so directional (you can't really diffuse it) and so power hungry (it loses you about a whole nother stop of light, which you're combining with high effective apertures at any respectable magnification m43) that you really want more than one source and for them to have fast cycle time for stacking.
  16. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    I actually became curious about this a little while ago, and asked about it here. Not really any definitive answers, but the paper linked in the one response might be interesting to some...
    I agree, I really hate trying to function using extremely narrow-band (LED) red light... contrast-detect autofocus may or may not like it, depending on what it's bouncing off of... but I'm almost always moving the camera to focus for macro. I've considered rigging something with a small amount of white(ish) light mixed with red, similar to what you would get with a gel on a broad-spectrum source, but ended up just using an orange/amber LED at some point and calling it good. I can't honestly say whether it's less disturbing to subjects than a broad-spectrum source or not, though.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
    • Useful Useful x 1
  17. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    If you aren't planning to emulate piggsy's power-hungry mad science polarization setup, I've found the cheap-and-cheerful Meike MK320 (aka Neewer NW320) to be really well suited to my style of hunter-gatherer bug macro owing to both the low-profile form factor and the great LED light that shines through the fresnel (and hence through any light diffusers) that allows for good focusing in low light while giving a very good idea of what the flash lighting will actually look like. The down side of this flash is that the quality control isn't great, and I've had a couple die on me. The other affordable option is the Godox TT350, which is a much nicer flash for general purposes, but it lacks the aforementioned qualities. There are informative discussions on this forum about both... also of possible interest: Show: Your DIY macro flash diffuser
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. impressive stuff pigsy congratulations
  19. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    How do you find bugs at night that aren’t biting you!
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. onewheeltom

    onewheeltom Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2015
    Cary, NC
    Tom Karches
    I've noticed that the Meike flash is sold for a specific brand of camera. Can the firmware on these be reflashed to allow it to operate on a different type of camera?
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