Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Apologies Gary Fong

Huge Fly series 1-1
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
Flash macro is an exercise in Catch 22s -it really is a no win situation sometimes. The best light for both portrait and macro work is light that’s soft and very diffused. A portrait shooter has all kinds of studio sized toys to play with to get the light just right. Most portrait photographers also use the edge of their lights on the subject, rarely resorting to pointing the flash directly at the person they are shooting.

A macro photographer, for the most part, can’t carry all those goodies out in the field. If you want to be flexible enough to shoot a wide variety of creatures then your lighting gear has to be small and easy to manage. There’s also one other little problem;

The best light for macro is direct, in the critter’s face, lighting…

Flash macro is really nothing more than a form of high speed stop motion photography. The flash duration has to be low so you can freeze the motion of the subject and, if you hand hold the camera like I do, you also have to freeze your own motion. Short duration bursts of light from the flash mean sharper images (even if you have your rig on a tripod). So getting the flash close to the subject, and pointed directly at it, is almost a must. But then you have to worry about glare and about the quality of the light being too harsh.

So last night, armed with a pair of heavy duty scissors, I cut up a Lightsphere II Cloud diffuser and hot glued a strip to each of my MT-24EX’s flash heads. I had been using the L2C for some other lighting projects around the house and was amazed at how good it was at giving me the quality of light that I like, even when I was shooting directly through the diffuser while hand holding one of the MT-24EX’s flash heads. As luck would have it I no sooner finished with the hot glue gun when one of my yungins spotted a huge fly in the house. The image with this post is the result of my first session with the new diffuser. It’s the quality of light that I’ve been looking for –warm, diffused, great color (even in a critter that doesn’t have much color to begin with). Plus I had the flash heads on Canon’s flash mount pointed directly at the fly and my flash duration, as judged by the recycle time of the flash, was short. Once I slipped at 4x and took two shots back to back and both times the flash fired. It wasn’t even a fresh set of NiMH batteries…

Sorry Mr. Fong for butchering one of your diffusers -but maybe you should be making them for macro too…

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