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Diffusion placement for field macro with flash
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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:32 pm    Post subject: Diffusion placement for field macro with flash Reply with quote

Thank you for checking this thread.

I have tried the following ways of placing diffusion material for field macro with flash:

A) tightly wrapped around macro lens, like a small lens hood;

B) in between lens and flash head, such as leaning forward towards subject, at around 45 degree;

C) directly on flash head(s);

D) a combination of above.

For simplification purpose, let us only discuss the final layer of diffusion closest to the subject and ignore D) for now.

I personally prefer the light effect of A) over B) over C) *, assuming the subject do not get scared and run away. But I don't have enough experience ** comparing comparing A) vs B) in terms of subject escaping.

If you have compared A) vs B) in terms of subject escaping, please kindly comment herein. Thank you again and happy new year!

* comparatively, A) provides bigger light surface and softer light. With C), I can often see flash hot spots in insect's eyes, which I do not prefer, if I have an alternative choice.

And obviously, A), B) or C) takes away working distance in different ways, so my main question is which way is usually better tolerated by macro subjects, in your experience?

I am guessing from the subject's point of view, B) or C) takes up more physical space and probably looks more scary? Even though A) takes away more working distance directly in front of lens, its physical appearance is smaller, therefore it may be less scary, to an insect?

Just trying to figure out what works best for my casual field macro use, so I don't require scientific data or rigours comparison (your experience is good enough) Twisted Evil

** With the live bees and lady beatles that I have access to, I noticed that they would allow me to use A), when they are feeding on a big flower or resting. With a tiny flower or not enough food to attract their attention, they may not even let me use B) or C); I cannot even take a poor photo in those cases.
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RobertOToole



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Zzffnn,

The answers will depend on the subjects you are dealing with, at least thats the case when I shoot.

If they are calm and cooperative, its a lot easier. With these two, they would model for you all day and not complain.

Samsung note 4 phone pics:




A. Works well in a studio or for very calm subjects. But I find this type tends to be cumbersome and can cause problems always bumping into subjects like flowers or perches.

I find that C. Is easier to work with and you can alway add B. when you need extra diffusion.



Also be aware that I use a large oval diffuser but that tends to scare insects but that will always be a problem if you move too quickly and also due to the large white area. Generally wildlife seems to sense white as danger, generally speaking.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Robert
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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Robert.

Exactly, it depends on the subject. With some bees or flies on big flowers, I could touch their bodies with my fingers and they would not fly away until I touched them (so type A diffusion would work there).

My current macro rig is arranged similarly as yours, except that I use different camera/lens and diffusion B.

The reason I am leaning towards type A diffusion, is because it appears much smaller (than type B and C), physically, in eyes of insects. Maybe large white surface reminds insects of birds? And type A makes it to get into/in between tight spaces. But it also gets closer to the insect.

And yes, it is essential to moving in very slowly, in addition to finding a calm/distracted (feeding/mating) subject.

Thanks again,
Fan
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fan,

I personally prefer option C full time. This option is cause I use the KX-800. Their primary USP is flexibility. Let me show some behind the scene photos.








The problem I felt in option B which is a popular concave design method, at any given time, one of my flash head is restricted behind the vellum diffuser/concave diffuser. That leaves one flash head to give dynamic lighting.

In my style/situation, I try to create dynamic lighting and require on the fly lighting situation. This means my light is beyond the lens/ camera axis and still needs to be properly diffused. Here option C is best because I know the individual light source that is going to hit my subject is diffused at that end.

However, if you shoot lot of snakes/frogs then you need a "uniform blanket light" as you want your diffuser reflection to mould in the reflection of the subject's eye.

The roundabout is mix option B and separate flash with option C,controlled via radio trigger or optical flash.

In terms of insects flying away, its more of how you apporach them rather than they running away seeing your diffusion. Many times, subjects were stunned after they saw the venus arms and overall lighting system.
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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you get a single catchlight if you overlap the diffusers?

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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much, anvancy.

I am guessing you don't photograph many highly reflective subjects, other than those you already mentioned or showed in the forum?

Your Venus twin flash heads have the advantage that they can be placed very close to critters.

I probably don't have many highly reflective subjects in my area, other than spiders (eyeballs):
1) Our frogs are big swamp ones and can be imaged with natural light;
2) We don't have many interesting lizards and I don't photograph snakes;
3) with lady beetles (and probably bigger onesl, my type B+C diffusion seemed to work fine, likewise for most flies, bees, dragonflies and many other insects or plants;
4) I cannot think of more reflective critters around me, as I don't get much chance to see them often.

With spiders on web, I am guessing they would allow you to get very close to them, without fleeing? I know free-roaming jumping spiders would be different.

Thank you again!
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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisR wrote:
Do you get a single catchlight if you overlap the diffusers?


ChrisR,

I am guessing the answer depends on distance between overlapped diffusers and subject. Yes, if very close. No (you would see dual flash spots), if too far away.

In the field, diffuser placement as shown in your image may not be easy, unless you have a long arm twin flash like the Venus (that can get very close) and a very cooperative subject.

For me, sometimes my diffuser would obscure my view, such that I see where my subject is. That is another reason why I thought about type A diffusion (with a lens hood like Vellum paper tube that takes up less physical space).
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fan,

On the contrary, I photograph everything in the insect world. Reflective subjects and surfaces are a part and parcel of it. you have already seen the photos of Agumbe.

Yes I can get close to the subjects and its also an advantage for the MPE. However given the venus structure, it can also act as a hindrance as i have explained in my review video.

If a single flash is used, best case scenario is to put it near the lens axis and a softbox. something that i showed in the video. other flash can be used as a filler.

If spiders are the main subjects then yes, a singular spread light is required regardless of the number of lights. If you use 6 lights but create hotspots in the eye, the system is hardly of use.
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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Anvancy,

In addition to what you have mentioned / shown in the forum (mostly eyeballs, wet insect exoskeletons and snail shells), what other highly reflective subjects have you seen? I just wonder if we have similar subjects in our area, that I failed to remember.

I used a similar single flash rig, just like your previous one and Robert's. Mine is more similar to your actually, as I also use a magic arm, only without bracket (I need to get a more suitable bracket, like yours).
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes even if the insect is not reflective in nature, the surroundings are.
In the Agumbe topic you can see the fishing spider. Even if the spider itself is not reflective in nature, the surrounding water body is virtually a mirror.
It depends where you are and what you are shooting.
India has a dedicated monsoon season and like other SE Asian countries, we have plenty of rain and rainforest. Invariably the environment becomes reflective in nature because of rain drops and small pits filled with water.

You can buy the bracket that I use here directly:
http://www.custombrackets.com/cb-mini-rc.html
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I gave your question some thought and tried to relate to my ongoing amateur experience in macro photography.

Till the time the venus was introduced, all flash systems were primarily on or near the lens axis.

The canon MT24 being one of the "to go to" flash systems for macro photography, along with other systems from olympus or even the nikon R1C1, the base remains the same. the lights sit near the lens axis.

So, till date diffusion designs are catering to the following:

1. Single flash system that sits on the hotshoe and you design a diffuser whether concave or other design that projects out and sits near the lens axis.
something that many SE asian photogs use.

2. You push the flash head ahead and then push the light via a diffusion system. Something that you are thinking on the lines of and maybe my earlier setup.

3. Design on the base of the lens axis. Primarily the way MT 24 or the yongnuo 24 now works.

I realized after a year of usage of the venus KX-800 that traditional diffusion systems and designs were restricting the flexibility of the KX-800. If the sole aim is to create "one light" which has been the norm over FB groups and walls, many tend to go that way. Maybe that is also one of the reasons why the KX-800 failed to pick up sales. You have to slice and crush your mind and apply knowledge to get something out of it.
Traditional flash designs are available on the net, KX-800 may be not. I dont think it has happened with me that fellow photogs have asked, which flash do you use and then bought it. YN 24? sold like hot cakes as it mimics the MT 24. So all the researched diffusion designs will work on it.



In the photo up you can see me standing on a chair and taking a photo of an antlion. Note the position of the heads. One head is responsible to light the antlion. The other head is responsible to bring out the iridescent reflection on the wings when light hits it at a specific angle. You cannot just point at it and it will give those colors. This is where diffusion on the flash heads and on the fly adjustments are really handy. Something that other setups may not provide.

The result is below.

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zzffnn



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your comments, Avancy.

I agree with you. It is hard to photograph different subjects with the same light system and your Venus system provides the best flexibility.

Purchase decision may depend on the photog's priority, budget and point of compromise.

The disadvantage of the Venus twin flash with diffusion on heads may be its bulk. In some very tight spaces, MT24 /YN24 may get to subjects more easily.
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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anvay, I'm interested to now if you can manage to get just a single catchlight if you overlap the illuminating surfaces as described? Or do your diffusers still give you hot-spots?

BY the way, I noticed your "waterproof" wraps. I'm using some very stretchy exercising rubber strip called a TheraBand®. I can imagine that if it were cut into ~50mm strip it could be wound around the arms and do the job without restricting bending. Or in a tube. It's available in black & it's probably copied locally.
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fan,

In my personal experience, photogs turn to whats running hot and buy it. Atleast in what I observed, if a system is tested and proven to be running in proper condition, why put money where you have to invest your time and energy?

Still I recommend photogs to go the YN 24 EX way as its a cheaper alternative. But i caution them mentioning, they will not have the flexibility of the venus. yes the yongnuo can be mounted on the goose neck hot shoe brackets but the flexibility is limited to the extension reach of the bracket itself.

The venus was available at a good price of around $250 at launch. the $300 maybe does not suit well with all now.

If you are interested to design the popular malaysian concave diffuser, please have a look at this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVsxM89LX2M&feature=youtu.be

The diffuser though will not let you go in cramp spaces.
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anvancy



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisR wrote:
Anvay, I'm interested to now if you can manage to get just a single catchlight if you overlap the illuminating surfaces as described? Or do your diffusers still give you hot-spots?

BY the way, I noticed your "waterproof" wraps. I'm using some very stretchy exercising rubber strip called a TheraBand®. I can imagine that if it were cut into ~50mm strip it could be wound around the arms and do the job without restricting bending. Or in a tube. It's available in black & it's probably copied locally.


Hi Chris,

Single catchlight, well nearby but with existing diffusers no. The gap and boxes are still visible. I think one of the primary reasons is the ratio of light chosen for the output.

I started with similar design that you had in the earlier post. It mimicked the single catchlight but that was it. The hotspots were hard to control as the boxes were still visible.

The situation changes when you are using the MPE. the hotspots became more apparent and difficult to control. But more than that, the light that was coming out was sort of uni-directional. In my antlion photo, imagine if I put the diffusers as per the angles you mentioned, the sheen would not have come out cause the angle of light is in a relative field-top down or mini concave.

The other problem I personally face is if both heads are behind the vellum paper or other material and a uni directional light is thrown out, you lose the chance to rim light or back light subjects.

Take this photo for example. the eyes light reflection give out the light position. The right head is responsible to light the main area of the lantern bug. the left head is now acting as a filler to do two things. one is to light up the environment in which it is. Second is to subtract the bug from the environment via lighting the face and front section. With me there was the R1C1 and YN 24. Both could not achieve this style.

In terms of the waterproofing suggestion, thanks for the tip. I will try to see if I can source something locally.

Anvay
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