Chasing Active Critters

Images of undisturbed subjects in their natural environment. All subject types.

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Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Chasing Active Critters

Post by Dalantech »

After a year long break I've decided to get back into macro. But I honestly don't have much time for online forums. As much as I hate social media I need to be more active on Facebook and Instagram, and a lot of the photography that I see on those sites fits more into what I'm trying to do with my own images. I'll shoot anything that lets me get close, but I'm more concerned with photographing active subjects. Here's some of the images I've taken so far, and of course none of them are focus stacked. All taken hand held, and I still do not allow myself to crop in post.

Caterpillars feed by extending their heads and then curling up as they chew. So the trick was to focus right at the edge of the leaf and wait for the critter to bring it's head up to start the next "row". I got seven frames before it figured out I was close and stopped feeding. Shot horizontally but framed for a vertical composition, and I turned the shot 90 degrees in post. Easier than trying to hold the camera in portrait orientation.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (over 3x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. I'm holding on to the stem of the plant with my left hand, and resting the lens on that same hand to keep the scene steady.

ImageCaterpillar Feeding on Mint by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Shooting a hyperactive beetle feeding on Poppy pollen is probably the most technically challenging macro photography that I've done to date. Lots of deleted frames. Still want to revisit this scene before the Poppies are all gone.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/125, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (about 2.5x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held.

ImageFeeding Soldier Beetle in Poppy I by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Finally got a shot of the little devils that are decimating my flowers. Still want to shoot these Chafer Beetles, but most of them are already gone for the year.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (2x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held.

ImageChafer Beetle Eating Pollen by John Kimbler, on Flickr

I'm disappointed that I clipped her wing, but this female Sweat Bee was moving so fast that I barely had time to adjust the frame. In my peripheral vision I could see the flower and the position of it, and those lines, and that's why I framed the scene the way that I did.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (3x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, +1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held.

ImageForaging Sweat Bee II by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Although it looks threatening this semi-active Carder Bee is just reacting to me being too close. I've never been bitten or stung, and like all solitary bees they are excellent pollinators.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (about 1.5x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. I'm holding on to the stem of the flower with my left hand, and resting the lens on that same hand to keep the scene steady.

ImageEuropean Wool Carder Bee on Alert by John Kimbler, on Flickr

If you have any questions about technique or gear I'm more than happy to answer them.
Last edited by Dalantech on Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

zzffnn
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Post by zzffnn »

Beautiful diffusion and nice captures, John! Thank you for sharing. Your work has been my inspiration.

Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

zzffnn wrote:Beautiful diffusion and nice captures, John! Thank you for sharing. Your work has been my inspiration.
Thanks for the props!

I'm getting more active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/extrememacro) and Instagram (IG name: extrememacro). Got more projects than time lately though.

aveslux
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Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 6:13 am

Post by aveslux »

Incredible work, whats your current diffuser setup for your MT-26ex I have a very similar setup.

80D, Mt24-EX, MP-E 65, I struggle to produce work of this quality with my due to lighting.

And do you not find the diffuser effects the accuracy of ETTL or is this what the FEC 1/3 stop is for?

Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

aveslux wrote:Incredible work, whats your current diffuser setup for your MT-26ex I have a very similar setup.

80D, Mt24-EX, MP-E 65, I struggle to produce work of this quality with my due to lighting.

And do you not find the diffuser effects the accuracy of ETTL or is this what the FEC 1/3 stop is for?
Thanks!

Video of recent diffuser design -what I'm using now is similar. I have a commercially available diffuser that I need to review, and after that I'll make a video of the diffuser I built for the MT-26EX-RT. If your MT-24 ever breaks then get an MT-26. The built in diffuser on the 26 is better, and it has a higher guide number (more stopping power).

I adjust FEC based on conditions when I have time (depends on how active the critter is). I do set it to -1/3 by default cause I like to err on the side of under exposure. FWIW: E-TTL works a lot better with the MT-26 compared to the MT-24.

Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

I was shooting this dormant European Wool Carder Bee when it woke up. The scene unfolded so fast I only had time for this one image. Shot horizontally but framed for a vertical composition (I turned the shot 90 degrees in post). Easier than trying to hold the camera in portrait orientation.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (2x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. I'm holding on to the Lavender stem with my left hand, and resting the lens on that same hand to keep the scene steady.

ImageWool Carder Bee on the Move by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

aveslux wrote:...whats your current diffuser setup for your MT-26ex I have a very similar setup...
I made a new blog post that has a video of my MT-26EX-RT diffusers and a discussion about how I use my lighting, and how light quality and angle effects detail. This shot was taken with the rig in the video, and like all of my macro images it's a single frame:

ImageEuropean Wool Carder Bee by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Dalantech
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

Sometimes when I'm shooting a lethargic subject it will wake up and start going about it's normal routine. That's what happened while photographing this Saw Fly. The tricky part is tracking a moving subject when the frame at 4x is only 5.7mm wide by 3.7mm high.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (around 4x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, +1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held.

ImageFeeding Sawfly II by John Kimbler, on Flickr

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