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Thread: Handheld Macro BG control basics

  1. #1
    Robert O'Toole
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    Default Handheld Macro BG control basics

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    This series will illustrate what a balanced macro flash output looks like and how it will effect the background. The goal is how to make your image look as pleasing and as natural as possible without looking obviously flashed.

    This first image is one made in bright overcast conditions, handheld, with only natural light and no flash. This image will serve as the standard for the flash images since it is all natural.

    The histogram shows a lot of contrast with the whites and the shadow areas are at the extreme ends. The large peak in the center is the green background.

    NIKON D300 and APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX
    1/125 @ F8 Manual Mode Flash off
    All of the images in the series were made at ISO: 800

    Notes: I use manual flash for this series but you can get similar results with flash exposure compensation or any number of ways. There is no single correct way to make a good image.

    Although this image looks acceptably sharp this would not really be usable for handholding with any type of moving subject such as an insect since the shutter speed is just too low to prevent any small movement from bluring the image.

  2. #2
    Robert O'Toole
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    This image was taken with the flash in auto TTL mode. In TTL the flash is supplying enough light to expose the subject properly at F18. The problem here is that the flash output is so strong and the background is so distant that the background is 2 or more stops underexposed. The result looks very unatural and is obviously flashed, compared to the first image there is nothing natural looking about it. This image really looks like it could have been made in the middle of the night or in someone's basement studio.

    Looking at the histogram you can see that the whites are exposed okay but the background tones are all clipped at left edge. This serious underexposure will introduce a lot of noise.

    NIKON D300 and APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX and Nikon SB-R200 Flash
    1/250 sec @ F18 Manual Mode, TTL flash

  3. #3
    Robert O'Toole
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    This image was made by setting the aperture the same as the first image and placing the SB-R200 flash in manual mode on a 1/8th power setting. The flash will fill in any shadows and since the aperture is the same, the background will look virtually identical to the natural light image. At 1/8 power the flash output is about 1/1000th freezing any movement and making handholding possible.

    This histogram shows that all the tones in this image are well controlled and none are clipping.

    NIKON D300 and APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX and Nikon SB-R200 Flash
    1/320 sec @ F8 Manual Mode, Manual Flash @ 1/8 power

    Hopefully these examples will make more people aware of background control and motivate some to go out in the field to try it.

    Please post any questions or comments.

    Please dont waste bandwidth with "hey I like black backgrounds, I think they look great". This thread doesnt really have anything to do with BG preferences so start a new thread about black backgrounds if you really want to talk about that topic :)
    Last edited by Robert O'Toole; 05-22-2008 at 07:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Roman Kurywczak
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    Hey Robert,
    Very nice examples! I hope others come to check this out. This clearly demonstrates the trade -offs we make when we go to the high f-stops.........and clearly represents that there are alternatives to the black BG's............with a little work!
    Hope others chime in!

  5. #5
    Robert O'Toole
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    Thanks Roman!

    I hope others chime in also....no questions or comments anyone?

    Robert

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    John Cooper John Cooper's Avatar
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    Good examples Robert - something I picked up on shortly after getting serious about photography some 20 years ago. I detested that obvious flash look and dark to black BG's - so much so that I employed natural light for over 95% of images. On the over hand, however, flash can be very useful if not essential on occacions and it was John Shaw's very popular book on Close-ups that I first learned to balance flash with natural light.

    This demonstration should be very helpful for the novice photographer.
    Last edited by John Cooper; 05-23-2008 at 04:51 AM.

  7. #7
    Robert O'Toole
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    Thanks John
    I agree, flash can really be essential sometimes, and I agree about J Shaw of course. It was a real pleasure to meet John a couple of years ago and even better it was a dream to be able to shoot with him a couple of times in CA and FL. Not only is he a great photographer but he is a really generous, kind and has a good sense of humor also.

    Robert
    Last edited by Robert O'Toole; 05-23-2008 at 08:56 AM.

  8. #8
    Blake Shadle
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    Really nice work, Robert. Thanks for taking the time to give a great demo! No questions, just reading and thinking!

  9. #9
    Fabs Forns
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    Great tutorial, Robert, excellent idea to post and share. I'm sure the members appreciate as well as we did :)

  10. #10
    Alfred Forns
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    Thanks Robert !!!! Excellent tutorial and very well presented !!!!!

  11. #11
    adcolon
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    Robert.....a couple of questions.

    1. Is this example predicated on the fact that there should be enough light available to "light" the background ? I ask because many of my photos are taken in places with heavy shadows where the shutter speed would usually be too low (less than 1/100 sec) for a moving insect if taken in manual mode and anything less than f/11 is usually too limiting in DOF unless the insect is parallel to the camera, which in my experience is not too often in the field.

    2. Is the problem mainly caused by using TTL instead of manual mode in the flash ? I always use TTL, and get black backgrounds, unless the sun is shinning and I use a high ISO and low shutter speed. And, if I am in shadows, it is always a black background unless, if possible without disturbing the insect, which will cause it to dissapear, I place a big leaf very close to the subject sort of as a backgroud dropcloth.

  12. #12
    Robert O'Toole
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    Quote Originally Posted by adcolon View Post
    1. Is this example predicated on the fact that there should be enough light available to "light" the background ?
    I ask because many of my photos are taken in places with heavy shadows where the shutter speed would usually be too low (less than 1/100 sec) for a moving insect if taken in manual mode
    When photography under a forest canopy (real rain forest) light levels can be very low and this can make things difficult.
    You can use 1/15th to 1/60th no problem. Subject movement should not be a problem since the flash will stop the action as the flash output is less than 1/1000th of a second. So the slow shutter speed is actually less of a problem with low light. Under conditions of moderate light a slow shutter speed, 1/15-1/60th will give you ghosting from the ambient exposure so high shutter speeds, 1/200-1/500 are required. But under the low light of the forest, ghosting problem is almost never a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by adcolon View Post
    anything less than f/11 is usually too limiting in DOF unless the insect is parallel to the camera, which in my experience is not too often in the field.
    If I am trying for closeups under low light I usually try to frame subjects at a downwards angle of a 45 deg angle so that the flash will fall on something right behind the subject. In these cases I use F16 and around 1/30th or so and try for tight closeups like head shots or similar. Something like a profile image, unless there is something directly behind the subject, will be very difficult without a second flash to light the forest BG.

    The aperture really is what balances the BG tones. I really like to use medium apertures to get a good balance of smooth BGs and DOF. It makes the job much easier. You can use more moderate apertures and get balanced BGs but it is a lot more tricky.


    Quote Originally Posted by adcolon View Post
    2. Is the problem mainly caused by using TTL instead of manual mode in the flash ? I always use TTL, and get black backgrounds, unless the sun is shinning and I use a high ISO and low shutter speed.
    Yes TTL can be problematic because the camera will usually use the flash as the main light with the slow shutter speeds. This will cause the flash output to be too strong. If you set the exposure up in manual mode for the ambient then use TTL, the flash the output should be much more balanced and natural looking. I try to avoid TTL and use manual settings for more consistency. You can set it and almost forget it.


    Quote Originally Posted by adcolon View Post
    And, if I am in shadows, it is always a black background unless, if possible without disturbing the insect, which will cause it to dissapear, I place a big leaf very close to the subject sort of as a backgroud dropcloth.
    The best solution to this would be to use a tripod and set up a slow shutter speed but if this was not possible, you would need to use handholding. With handholding you would have to work at the angles to get some type of BG for the flash to light or to use a second flash for the background.

    Hope this imformation is helpful.

    Robert

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    hey, robert!!! awesome info and thanks for taking the time to share this. my question is, when doing the macro work do you constantly have the flash set at 1/8th power or does it vary to certain degrees depending on how close or far you are from the subject?

    thanks again

  14. #14
    Robert O'Toole
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    Quote Originally Posted by harold davis View Post
    hey, robert!!! awesome info and thanks for taking the time to share this. my question is, when doing the macro work do you constantly have the flash set at 1/8th power or does it vary to certain degrees depending on how close or far you are from the subject?

    thanks again
    Good question Harold!

    If I add a tube or an teleconvertor I up the power from 1/8 - 1/4 or so in 3rd steps. I rarely if ever need to go to full power.

    The little Nikon SB-R200s are amazing. They guide number is only 33 but I never have to use full power and I use a diffuser! To think I used to use a 580EX with a diffuser for macro, what a nightmare. The little SB-R200s are only 4 oz and is wireless!

    Robert

  15. #15
    Robert O'Toole
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    I missed the second half of the question, sorry.

    Once the flash power SS and F-stop are all set up, you can shoot for hours since the flash output is stronger than soft sunlight ( I dont shoot in full sun) so the sun is really only fill and to light the BG. The aperture might need to be stopped down if the subject is very light, reflective or white.

    As you focus closer or farther the ratio stays the same ( I think due to extension and focal length) to a certain point (you cant expect the little close up flash to light a subject 10 feet away). So from 1:1 to 1:2 or 1:3 and exposure stays constant.

    Robert

  16. #16
    adcolon
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    Thanks for your answers Robert. I started trying out the manual and after using TTL it takes getting used to in order to get the right amount of light. I find I have to check the histogram or the photo after each shot to make sure the light does not overpower the subject. But I am getting more background and even better colors. TTL gives the photos a yellowish tint, which is not there using manual flash mode. Thanks again.

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    Robert thanks a lot for posting this excelent tutorial! I hate flashes but after reading this tread I am beginnig to love :)
    Threads like this one make this site really great!

  18. #18
    BPN Viewer Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Hello Robert,

    I know you know this...

    And, Super tutorial.

    Each image has varying f/stops and shutter-speeds. I think it would be even better for comparative illustration purposes to maintain the same f/stop for both the ambient only and flash illustrations...thereafter, demonstrating how you can independently lighten or darken the background by varying the shutter-speed.

    Respectfully,

    Chas
    Last edited by Charles Glatzer; 05-26-2008 at 08:54 PM.

  19. #19
    Robert O'Toole
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    Hey Chas,

    Thanks for the idea! Now where were you when I made the example images! :)

    I didnt event think about your idea since I usually vary the aperture instead of shutter speed since I have so many problems with ghosting (not as a creative element!) I keep the SS on the high side, 1/250-1/320.

    Maybe I will add a SS series later, it is a good idea.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Chas!!

    Robert

  20. #20
    BPN Viewer Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Hey Robert,

    Flash and f/stop are linked together...change one of these variables and you have to change the other ie; cut down the flash pwr in manual mode and you will have to open the f/stop or bring the flash closer to the subject. Shutter-speed is independent. Think of flash and ambient as two separate entities. Ghosting occurs when the flash and ambient exposures are close. Moreover, high-speed syn ( above 1/250) reduces the flash pwr, making it necessary to increase the flash output or move the unit closer to the subject to maintain the same f/stop.

    Best Amigo,

    Chas
    Last edited by Charles Glatzer; 05-26-2008 at 09:02 PM.

  21. #21
    Robert O'Toole
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Glatzer View Post
    Hey Robert,

    Flash and f/stop are linked together...change one of these variables and you have to change the other ie; cut down the flash pwr in manual mode and you will have to open the f/stop or bring the flash closer to the subject.
    Agreed and ISO is another variable in regards to exposure and flash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Glatzer View Post
    Shutter-speed is independent. Think of flash and ambient as two separate entities.
    I think of shutter speed as being independent since the flash output and short duration (1/1000 to 1/8000th) usually has the greatest effect on the subject. Shutter speed does have an effect if the the ambient exposure is close enough to the flash exposure to cause ghosting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Glatzer View Post
    Ghosting occurs when the flash and ambient exposures are close.
    Yes, I find that in high light levels with medium apertures anything less than 1/200th or so will give you ghosting with macro photography. Sometimes this just shows up as a haze or smearing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Glatzer View Post
    Moreover, high-speed syn ( above 1/250) reduces the flash pwr, making it necessary to increase the flash output or move the unit closer to the subject to maintain the same f/stop.

    Yes agree once again. Flash output or reach is reduced in FP/HSS. Reach or output is usually not a problem with Macro flash since you are usually shooting at low power but I see your point if you are moving into FP/HSS speed territory.

    Dont forget some DSLRs like the old Canon 1D and the Nikon D70 (there are others) sync up to 1/500. Also there are ways to get strobes to sync up to 1/1000th with normal use and full output (with the proper trigger method).

    Thanks,

    Robert

  22. #22
    Macro and Flora Moderator Steve Maxson's Avatar
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    Hi Robert. Thanks for posting this thread. I struggle with flash. I need to spend some time studying this discussion - and then head outside and try these techniques.

  23. #23
    Robert O'Toole
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    Good to hear Steve, if you need any advice or have any questions, just post/PM/email me anytime.

    Robert

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    Robert, excellent tutorial. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more and more about technique here. I will study the thread closely over the next week or so, but so far I have learned a lot.

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    I too struggle with flash, how much, etc.....My brain hurts just reading this thread.

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    Thanks Robert. I'm going to have to work on this. ut it'll be fun work!

  27. #27
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    Robert I am very interested in this thread. I use a 550 EX Gun and a Stofen Omnibounce. I used to set aperture and shutter speed manually to about 1/60 and f16 for insect photography and let the flash do the rest. when i went digital I started trying to use ambient light as much as possible using flash more as fill in.
    Currently I set the 550 ex to High speed sync and at -1 stop, I generally set the camera to ISO 200 and in AV mode to about f11 through to f16 depending upon subject and brightness of day. My latest post in the macro forum is an example. Can you suggest how else I may use the gun to ensure consistently sharp images or improve upon the natural lighting effect. I am not sure if I can set the gun to 1/8th power.
    Jon

  28. #28
    Robert O'Toole
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    Hi Jon,

    Sounds like you are on the right track. Diffusing the flash is good, I would recommend placing the flash as close to possible to the subject, right near the end of the lens. The closer the flash is to the subject the softer the light and the less power you need.
    Also try manual flash, and experiment with different settings. -1 and AV will work okay too but manual will give you fine control over the output to give you the exact amount of light and in effect the image look that you are looking for.

    Robert

  29. #29
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    Thanks Robert I will have another go today. At first you surpised me when you say put the flash as close as possible to the subject - the inverse square law dictates more fall out, but your method is not primarily of course for lighting it is merely to stop movement. The shutter speed and aperture will of course take care of the ambient light. ..........I will post any success!!
    Jon

  30. #30
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    Default Inconsistent flash results - usually underexposed

    Robert I have been doing a little more macro with flash photography. I have had some good results with flash at 1/8 power and the camera in AV mode (Canon 20D & 100mm macro lens).
    I have noticed however that many shots come out underexposed if the ambient light is not bright. The other thing I have noticed is that all my shots have a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. This is the sync speed on the camera and yet I set AV fully expecting the shutter speed to be in the region of 1/60 to 1/25 sec - obviously varying with aperture and ambient light.. When I use AV mode and the flash gun on high speed flash at -1 stop I note the shutter speed varies with the ambient light. The problem of course is most noticeable when the background if further away or when in shade
    Given that I want natural lighting I am wondering why the manual flash setting is dictating the shutter speed. Perhaps I should set the camera to manual say 1/125 at for example f11 and try the flash again on manual at 1/8 power.
    The AV mode with auto flash at -1 was working but I appreciate that you are more likely to get a stadardised burst of flash in manual mode.
    Do you or anyone else have any comments please or have you had a similar experience?
    Jon

  31. #31
    Robert O'Toole
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Michael Ashton View Post
    Robert I have been doing a little more macro with flash photography. I have had some good results with flash at 1/8 power and the camera in AV mode (Canon 20D & 100mm macro lens).
    I have noticed however that many shots come out underexposed if the ambient light is not bright.
    Canon flash use auto fill reduction, sort of like auto flash comp. Try setting CF 14.1 to disable auto fill-in flash reduction. This may help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Michael Ashton View Post
    The other thing I have noticed is that all my shots have a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. This is the sync speed on the camera and yet I set AV fully expecting the shutter speed to be in the region of 1/60 to 1/25 sec - obviously varying with aperture and ambient light.. When I use AV mode and the flash gun on high speed flash at -1 stop I note the shutter speed varies with the ambient light. The problem of course is most noticeable when the background if further away or when in shade
    Given that I want natural lighting I am wondering why the manual flash setting is dictating the shutter speed. Perhaps I should set the camera to manual say 1/125 at for example f11 and try the flash again on manual at 1/8 power.
    The AV mode with auto flash at -1 was working but I appreciate that you are more likely to get a stadardised burst of flash in manual mode.
    Do you or anyone else have any comments please or have you had a similar experience?
    Sounds like the 1/250 SS is a limit and not a setting. The camera body is limiting your SS since it is not in H speed sync mode maybe.
    I prefer to use manual mode with flash for more consistent results. Remember with Canon based on ambient levels and SS the camera will go from balanced fill flash to flash as main light.

    Hope this helps :)

    Robert

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    BPN Viewer Bruce Enns's Avatar
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    Jon, If I'm reading your message right, it sounds like you have the C.Fn I - 7 (custom function for flash sync speed in AV mode) set to 1/250th (fixed). (That is the custom function number on my 40D anyway, your 20D may be different)..you'll need to set it to Auto so that the camera will set the shutter speed for your chosen aperture based on a correct exposure.


    P.S. Great thread Robert, thanks for posting it and answering questions...I have lots to learn about macro flash and this helps a lot.

    Cheers!
    Bruce

  33. #33
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    Thanks Robert & Bruce, Custon Function 14 is probably for the EOS 1, the 20D doesn't appear to have such a setting. The flash sync in AV mode was set to Auto - honest!
    I will try a few shots with every thing . i.e. camera and flash on manual.
    Jon

  34. #34
    Judy Lynn Malloch
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    Many thanks Robert for all the info. There is so much to learn and I appreciate your time and efforts .

  35. #35
    Maxis Gamez
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    Very cool Robert!

  36. #36
    Rene A
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    would this help for for macro???

    Canon MR-24EX Macro Ring Lite



    with a macro 100 2.8 lens???

  37. #37
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renate Arzonetti View Post
    would this help for for macro???

    Canon MR-24EX Macro Ring Lite



    with a macro 100 2.8 lens???
    I a not too sure if that ring light is for non digital cameras, and the digital cameras now use a twin flash unit. If you already have a conventional gun I would recommend using that with a diffuser, it gives great natural looking results.
    Jon

  38. #38
    Anita Rakestraw
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    Thanks for all the info here! I have recently gone from not knowing anything about using my flash unit except how to turn it on (!!) to finally learning what the settings are/do, how to figure power level, etc. I have huge amounts of learning to do to know how to successfully use flash and this tutorial will be very helpful!

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    Robert, thanks for this educational post. Are you using multiple SB R200s or a single unit???

  40. #40
    Robert O'Toole
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    Hey Jason,

    Thanks!
    I use a single diffused SBR200.
    I run the single for a few reasons:
    -Dont like more than one catchlight.
    -I am using the flash in manual on low power as it is so I dont have a need for more power right now.
    -Dont need the extra bulk, its hard enough with one flash hanging on branchs and twigs all the time as is.
    -I like the single light effect, its your basic 45 Deg high front lighting. more than one light looks really flat, I am not a ring light fan.

    Robert

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    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Attached Images Attached Images
     

    Robert, your concern about using two flash units creating a flat appearance; do you believe using a twin with diffusers like the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX would cause the flat appearance? The output of each lite is independent and the lights can be removed for repositioning.



  42. #42
    Robert O'Toole
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    How ya goin' Jay

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Gould View Post

    Robert, your concern about using two flash units creating a flat appearance; do you believe using a twin with diffusers like the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX would cause the flat appearance? The output of each lite is independent and the lights can be removed for repositioning.




    With a twin light if you use both lights to hit the subject you will have the problem of ugly twin highlights/catch-lights and very flat light.
    I would use one light with a diffuser and you could either leave the other off or use it turned down as fill or better yet you could use the second light to fill in around the subject.

    With a single SB-R200 (Nikon) I use sunlight or ambient as fill and flash as my main source.

    Either way dont use the twin light on Auto unless you want your images to look like they were taken in the middle of the light. With Macro photography less is usually more in regards to lighting.

    Robert

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    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Thanks Robert, in discussing this with pros at workshops, one of the things we have discussed is using one light with a diffuser as the main light and using a second flash as a slave bounced off of a reflector card/ surface. With the twin lights since you can control the power output of each light independently, couldn't use use one pointed at the subject and one pointed towards a card to bounce the light from above, below, behind or from the side? Would that approach eliminate the flatness/catch lights problem?

  44. #44
    Robert O'Toole
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Gould View Post
    Thanks Robert, in discussing this with pros at workshops, one of the things we have discussed is using one light with a diffuser as the main light and using a second flash as a slave bounced off of a reflector card/ surface. With the twin lights since you can control the power output of each light independently, couldn't use use one pointed at the subject and one pointed towards a card to bounce the light from above, below, behind or from the side? Would that approach eliminate the flatness/catch lights problem?
    Yes that set up could work as you suggest no doubt. Really the best set up would depend on your demands and more importantly what equipment you own.

    Over the last 20 years and I went through many different levels of sophisticated macro set ups and you know what? I have come full circle. The set up that I use now that I absolutely love is very very similar to the one that I used over 20 years ago. I use a single wireless 4 ounce Nikon SBR200 with a small diffuser. The set up is simple, light, makes nice soft light and costs about $200.

    Hope my advice helps.

    Robert

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    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert O'Toole View Post
    Yes that set up could work as you suggest no doubt. Really the best set up would depend on your demands and more importantly what equipment you own.

    Over the last 20 years and I went through many different levels of sophisticated macro set ups and you know what? I have come full circle. The set up that I use now that I absolutely love is very very similar to the one that I used over 20 years ago. I use a single wireless 4 ounce Nikon SBR200 with a small diffuser. The set up is simple, light, makes nice soft light and costs about $200.

    Hope my advice helps.

    Robert
    Absolutely your advice helps! Thank you.

    I haven't bought much to date: 40D, 16-35, 24-105, and the 100-400. Pending purchases are the 70-200 f/4 and the 180 macro; we have already discussed and discussed the issue of bodies.;)

    On the macro side I will buying the 180; the light setup is totally open.

    At the moment I have the Canon "toy" the 220EX; I am planning on buying the 580EX as it is the only Canon flash that can operate as a Master. the 430EX can operate as a slave but carrying two large flash units doesn't make sense. My understanding is that the 220EX will not operate as a wireless slave to the camera or to the 580EX. Does anyone know of a small wireless unit that will operate from a Canon camera either independently or in Master/Slave with the 580EX?

    I certainly am not determined to spend money for the sake of spending money. The Canon Twin is $1300; if I can find a suitable Macro lighting system built around what I will already have - the 580EX - great!

    As as aside, I know I am asking lots and lots of questions. I really appreciate everyone's patience. Hopefully in the near future when I am again mobile and recovered from this latest knee surgery I will be able to share "keepers" with you. :D

  46. #46
    Ian Mc. Ian McHenry's Avatar
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    Thanks Robert for great tutorial helped by questions from members.
    One of my favourite places for nature pix is in the rainforest so I will be going thro' this advice slowly before my next excursion.
    Biggest problem for me is flash reflection of birds eyes when flash is necessary to get feather detail etc.
    Cheers: Ian Mc

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    Hi Robert. Wonderful sticky here. I'll be coming back to it often as I plan to be trying more marco photography this year. Thanks for this excellent advice.

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    BPN Viewer Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Gould View Post
    Robert, your concern about using two flash units creating a flat appearance; do you believe using a twin with diffusers like the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX would cause the flat appearance? The output of each lite is independent and the lights can be removed for repositioning.


    Jay,

    You can ratio the MT-24EX lights independently to achieve any degree of subject modeling you deem appropriate, flat or otherwise. Additionally, you can alter the quality of the strobe light through diffusion, reflectors, etc. You can even gel the strobes to alter color. The biggest problem with the attached lights is the further you get from the subject the more both lights become frontal, losing the ability to control the modeling effect. The RRS bracket allows extension arms to be used to place the strobes further off the lens axis. "Light Illuminates, Shadow Defines"

    Personally, I am more concerned about controlling the lighting than multiple catch-lights in the eyes of critters. If desired I can retouch an eye, I cannot re-create the lighting as such in post production.
    If you use one flash, with ambient as fill or sunlight as main to model the subject, you lose the ability to separately control the background via shutter-speed without having to compromise DOF.

    Best,

    Chas
    Last edited by Charles Glatzer; 05-29-2009 at 10:15 AM.

  49. #49
    Lifetime Member Jay Gould's Avatar
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    Hi Chas, looks like you are going through and catching up on older threads. Thanks.

    I have decided that for my first venture into macro I am not going to purchase any special lights, and I am going to use the 100 macro plus extension tubes on lenses I am already carrying.

    As I previously indicated I am taking Mike's online course and interestingly, Mike never uses a flash. Only natural light with reflectors and diffusers.

    I do have one 580 with a standard diffuser and Gary Fong's Lightsphere. Cheers, Jay

  50. #50
    BPN Viewer Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Jay,

    Light quality has much to do with the size of the source relative to the subject.

    I recommend one of the following below for flash macro work. They can easily be used off camera as well.

    Photoflex - On Camera XTC II Soft box
    LumiQuest - Soft box for shoe mount flash

    Best in all your photo endeavors, and safe travels,

    Chas





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