First macro experiments

Discussion in 'Nature' started by Klorenzo, May 24, 2015.

  1. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    It happened that I was sitting on a bench in a park enjoying the sun when I noticed that a few ants had similar plans and were quite disappointed by my presence. I had with me the Oly 60 and I thought it would be worth to document this cultural clash. And I found out that getting the focus right is insanely vexing but also eventually fun like badly designed video games from the 80's :)
    This is how it started. Here are a couple of shots:

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    17672533672_737b598e31_z. P5130467

    17825722548_e5c8affa4c_z.

    17393101633_fb6c979754_z.

    My attention was 90% on focus and 10% on all the rest. I used the popup flash in the first shot and the FL-300 in the green guy shots.

    I find the shots a little dull and plasticky. Is the flash too strong or too close? Motion blur? Bad PP? Any suggestion is appreciated.
     
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  2. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    762
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Coincidentally, I spent all day yesterday learning and practicing how to use off-camera flash in macro photography. I learned a lot, but didn't get much by way of insects like you did, though. Nice captures. The flying bee shot is particularly impressive.

    I'm wondering if the "plasticky" quality you are perceiving is actually the shallow depth of field normal with non-image stacked macro. Kind of like the Diorama art filter, the different depth of field can make things look like little toys. You can increase your aperture a little more to get more of the body in focus. Though you could boost up ISO a little to keep your shutter speed, with flash control I doubt it would be necessary. The colorful nature of the little critters might also be a contributing factor to that toy look.

    As for the dullness, I think it probably is flash technique. When you used the FL-300, was it on your hot shoe? If yes, I would try using it via remote control mode (I think you gear combo is capable of that). Straight-on flash gives those kinds of results, so holding the flash to the side (wherever the lighting needs it) will help. One of the green bug shots with shadows on his left side would have benefitted from that. Having the camera in one hand and the flash in the other gives you more control over the proximity of the flash as well as direction. But I'm just starting out, so I'm no expert...

    I also found macro focusing on moving bugs a real challenge. I used autofocus when not at 1:1 magnifications, but found manual focus better for true macro. I was shooting mostly flowers, so I had the luxury of setting up my tripod and using a focusing rail. When I didn't have that much time, I have found that switching to high burst mode and manual focus, then moving my body forwards and backwards from the subject will yield some of the shots in focus. Then just delete the rest. I am assuming this technique could (I haven't tried it yet) also allow you to focus stack later on, though I suppose the frames would have to align to a certain degree.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  3. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    762
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    One more thing... It seems like common sense now, but yesterday I quickly came to the realization that I only had two hands. :blush: I couldn't hold the camera in one hand and the flash in the other and manually focus as well. Being methodical about the steps I took and being able to lay my flash in my sling bag when I needed a free hand helped a lot.
     
  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    The plasticky look is well visible in the fist bee: the gold body, the plastic like wings, it looks...unnatural, too perfect. And there is also some "micro blur" maybe too much denoise and "too shy" PP.
    I used the flash in RC mode in the green guy from above is the only one where I had the time to place it reasonable, maybe too close, like 15cm. In the other shots he was walking too fast to handle everything: I only had two hands ;)

    I used some AF with the flying bee for example: was easy, it just stayed still. Or 1:1 for the green one or the, new, spider. AF works fine but I tend to stay too far. The lens hood is so long to be almost unusable, even half extended.

    I'd like to shoot in S mode but in this way I cannot control the aperture, so it looks like M is the only reasonable option.

    One noob question about the flash: the speed sync limit is only for TTL mode or for manual too? I suppose the first one. I'd like to shoot around 1/500 with just a little fill flash. I have no idea how much difference the flash is really doing, I should do some experiments.

    These are from today:

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    17428247864_f17f37c734_z.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  5. tje53

    tje53 Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    May 18, 2013
    Thanks for posting these shots. I'm just starting to experiment with macro right now, too. (Just got an Oly 60mm macro.)

    I've been using the fl300r with a flash diffuser. I made a little box that sticks on the top of the flash with velcro, and I strap the flash diffuser onto that. I've found the lens hood for my Oly 17mm works well on this macro -- I think I'll send back the long tubular lens hood that's designed for it. I can't see when I'd use that thing.

    I think these macro shots are a pretty good start, but I have a long way to go. I *think* the first one shows a bee's tongue. (?) The second one is a very small fly on the leaf of a lambs-ear plant. Macro seems to be a hairy, fuzzy world!

    I really admire the macro work of Mark Berkerey -- that's what got me interested in trying this.

    These are the first pics I've ever posted at all, too. :)
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. tje53

    tje53 Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    May 18, 2013
    About the "plastic" look you mentioned: you might be responding to the hard shadows and specular highlights always created by a direct flash.
     
  7. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    762
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Yeah, a diffuser is a good idea. Definitely a good start, and you picked a good source for inspiration. Mark's stuff is awesome.

    About the 60mm lens hood, it's pretty cool because it retracts over the lens barrel when not in use. I think it was the first one to do that before the 40-160 pro perfected the design.
     
  8. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I'll try a diffuser and to keep the flash more distant.

    I took a look at Mark Berkery work, thanks for the link, it's quite impressive and what I like most is that all the EXIF are available. He shoot at f/11-16 on the Pana G1 and usually with quite a slow shutter speed 1/80-100. So I not need much higher speeds.