View Poll Results: Which Lighting setup will you strongly recommend for macro photography?

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  • Nikon R1 Kit to compliment my SB900 (Act as Commander)

    5 62.50%
  • Additional SB600 as Slave + Macro Flash Bracket (e.g.wimberly) + SB 900 as Master

    1 12.50%
  • Sigma Electronic Flash Macro EM-140 DG

    0 0%
  • Others (pls recommend)

    2 25.00%
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Thread: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

  1. #1
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Hi guys/gers,

    Quite at a loss, still couldn't achieve the desired soft shadows aft few attempts at insect photography.. Was thinking of investing in a gd proper flash system..

    Currently i have a D300 + 105 VR + SB900 + Manfrotto 055CX Tripod + Markins Q3 ballhead + demb flip it pro as my macro set up.

    I am looking at one of the above options to put the end to my misery..
    Any advise or recommendation on my dilenmma?

    Tks in adv!!
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
    My Flickr|My Son

  2. #2

    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Are you using your SB on the hotshoe most of the time?

    Hmm ... I'm not a macro shooter, but one thing I can tell you is that buying more flash units/different flash system is not the answer.

    They are just tools.

    Knowing how to use the tools and other techniques is the key to ending 'your misery'.

    Hint: You can get very soft shadows or almost shdowless (flat, and actually not the most desirable) lighting even with just one flash. Look back to the basics of light, and how light behaves, and what you need to do to the light source to achieve much softer shadows while retaining detailing (shapes, texture and depth). If the foundational knowledge is not there ...

  3. #3
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Agree with DM on his last paragraph.

    remember, larger size of the light source relatively to the subject, will yield softer light.

    for an example, you get a harsh shadow on sunny day, and get a soft shadow on cloudy day, why? cos on sunny day, the sun is a pointed light source, and on cloudy day the cloud enlarge the size for light source.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Are you using your SB on the hotshoe most of the time?

    Hmm ... I'm not a macro shooter, but one thing I can tell you is that buying more flash units/different flash system is not the answer.

    They are just tools.

    Agree.

    I use a SB-800 with it's cap diffuser (handheld) and i think it works just fine.

    Remember, the more light sources you introduce, the more bizarre the specular highlight highlights on your subject are gonna be

    Besides, if you want a more 'natural' effect, using just one light source is the best way to get that.

    Just my 2cents

  5. #5
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Are you using your SB on the hotshoe most of the time?

    Hmm ... I'm not a macro shooter, but one thing I can tell you is that buying more flash units/different flash system is not the answer.

    They are just tools.

    Knowing how to use the tools and other techniques is the key to ending 'your misery'.

    Hint: You can get very soft shadows or almost shdowless (flat, and actually not the most desirable) lighting even with just one flash. Look back to the basics of light, and how light behaves, and what you need to do to the light source to achieve much softer shadows while retaining detailing (shapes, texture and depth). If the foundational knowledge is not there ...
    Thks DM, this knocked some sense into me.

    Btw i am using my SB900 on hotshoe.
    Wondering will it be better to place it closer to the subject with a TTL cord.

    Yup, Did some read ups, well aware of the inverse square of light, flash power/duration etc.
    Basically quite new to Macro, barely started ard 2 mths+ back.Still got tons to learn.

    Tks for ur input..Cheers..
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
    My Flickr|My Son

  6. #6
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    Agree with DM on his last paragraph.

    remember, larger size of the light source relatively to the subject, will yield softer light.

    for an example, you get a harsh shadow on sunny day, and get a soft shadow on cloudy day, why? cos on sunny day, the sun is a pointed light source, and on cloudy day the cloud enlarge the size for light source.
    Thks for ur advice Cathlights..
    In other words, getting my flash closer to my subjects will yield more desireable lighting?
    So isn't a ring flash most ideal? Correct me if i m wrong.
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Daedalus Trent View Post
    Agree.

    I use a SB-800 with it's cap diffuser (handheld) and i think it works just fine.

    Remember, the more light sources you introduce, the more bizarre the specular highlight highlights on your subject are gonna be

    Besides, if you want a more 'natural' effect, using just one light source is the best way to get that.

    Just my 2cents
    Thks for ur input.. Did u mount ur SB 800 on ur hotshoe?

    If so, i had tried that method and still got harsh shadows when i lower my flash output/FEV..
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Numnumball View Post
    Thks for ur input.. Did u mount ur SB 800 on ur hotshoe?

    If so, i had tried that method and still got harsh shadows when i lower my flash output/FEV..
    Nope, i trigger it with my built-in flash.

    I hold it in my left hand and prop it against the side of my lens for extra support.

    Otherwise,I just holdit and mount my camera on a tripod

  9. #9
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Numnumball View Post
    Thks for ur advice Cathlights..
    In other words, getting my flash closer to my subjects will yield more desireable lighting?
    So isn't a ring flash most ideal? Correct me if i m wrong.
    for softer lighting, bring your flash closer and make it bigger.

    Daedalus Trent has offer you his solution.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    for softer lighting, bring your flash closer and make it bigger.
    are u able to elaborate on this? do u mean just physically bring the flash closer to the subject? do I need to change the zoom and output of the flash?

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by hisokaka View Post
    are u able to elaborate on this? do u mean just physically bring the flash closer to the subject? do I need to change the zoom and output of the flash?
    some macro shooters using a (homemade or commercially available) flash bracket to bring flash closer to the lens, and using a diffuser (LS or milk container) attach on the flash.

    you can see from this photo, taken from 1st AP Offical Macro Night... seem none of them using delicated macro flash. Hope this help.
    Quote Originally Posted by jameskkmok View Post
    Glad to meet everyone, we have a good time together tonight. Thank you to all. Appreciate your attendance. As usual need your ID, me 1st left with cap.



    Some of my bad shots tonight..






    Thanks for viewing..
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Thanks for all the guidance and advise here. Esp to Catchlights, DM and Daedalus Trent; Just bought a Nikon SB-R1 Kit as i seriously wanted to go into macro photogrpahy. Will famalize myself with all things assosciated with light (apparent light size, flash duration, inverse square law of light and other factors whcih will determine my flash outcome) and hope to practice more and fully utlilize the goodness of this dedicated flash.. Cheers!
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
    My Flickr|My Son

  13. #13

    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    CONGRATS on your new flash system!

    It's an exposed (i.e., not specifically diffused) twin-head?

    Sorry, I wasn't very clear in my first reply. It should have been "buying more flash units/different flash system is not the quick and easy answer."

    BUT, as I read Catchlights' response, I realized that in any eventuality, getting the most appropriate equipment and knowing how to maximize it can make your photography experience a lot more enjoyable and rewarding. However, my first choice, if faced with hard-core macro nature work would be an assistant (LOL!) multi-plamps/clamps/stakes, Start off with ONE diffused head, and add on only if nothing else works, and very strategically placed scrims, flags and both broad and focused reflectors. The multi plamps/clamps/stakes would take care of almost all of the placement and holding work.

    Last Hint: Even with a twin-head, you might have to improvise sometimes, because you're now dealing with TWO fairly hard light sources. Experiment with filters and diffusers if necessary, and while it's a lens-mounted option, don't be afraid to think out of the box and vary how you approach using the kit. Since I am not familiar with this Nikon speedlight, I'm sure other macro-ers using it would be able to offer more relevant advise.

    HAVE FUN and post up some sample images taken with your new kit!
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 23rd July 2009 at 04:11 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Macro Flash - Soft Shadows desired on Insect Photogrpahy

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    CONGRATS on your new flash system!

    It's an exposed (i.e., not specifically diffused) twin-head?

    Sorry, I wasn't very clear in my first reply. It should have been "buying more flash units/different flash system is not the quick and easy answer."

    BUT, as I read Catchlights' response, I realized that in any eventuality, getting the most appropriate equipment and knowing how to maximize it can make your photography experience a lot more enjoyable and rewarding. However, my first choice, if faced with hard-core macro nature work would be an assistant (LOL!) multi-plamps/clamps/stakes, Start off with ONE diffused head, and add on only if nothing else works, and very strategically placed scrims, flags and both broad and focused reflectors. The multi plamps/clamps/stakes would take care of almost all of the placement and holding work.

    Last Hint: Even with a twin-head, you might have to improvise sometimes, because you're now dealing with TWO fairly hard light sources. Experiment with filters and diffusers if necessary, and while it's a lens-mounted option, don't be afraid to think out of the box and vary how you approach using the kit. Since I am not familiar with this Nikon speedlight, I'm sure other macro-ers using it would be able to offer more relevant advise.

    HAVE FUN and post up some sample images taken with your new kit!

    Hi DM,

    Thanks for your lengthy reply!! Really thrilled and excited at my new acqusition, can't wait to go outfield. Though happy at my new toy, i had to give up my Raynox for tt extra magnification (which somes handy on very tiny subjects like JS).. Got a Canon 500D close up lens, i must say after trying it out for a day, i am overwhelmed by its optical quality..i dare say its defintely as good or even better than raynox

    Agreed with you on the above, i still have my wife, dragged her along on one or 2 macro outings and she start to whine.. lol...so getting R1 is really helpful, as everything is on the camera itelf, so no additional plamps/clamps/stakes, i can fully focus on my aubjects and figure out the best way to wotk out my lighting.. its a impressive system no doubt, really wanna to go deep into CLS to fully optimize the goodness of it.

    Thanks alot for ur hint. That crossed my mind as well.. i can't jus rely on the light source, i still have to figure out based on my shooting situation to get the best diffused lighting. Will think innovatively and try mutliple approaches to get the desired flash output.
    Will post images soon as i am very spurned on to shoot with my new toys!!!
    I turned PRO in diaper chg!
    My Flickr|My Son

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