dinsdag 31 maart 2009

Venomous Friends

Yesterday i went out to shoot Adders and boy did i have a great day! We where able to locate 5 of them throughout the day and had a blast photographing these venomous beauties.

The Adder is quite scarce over here and is considered a protective species. It is not easy to find them and by looking at their distinct back pattern i was able to spot them within their dense habitat. March is the best time to spot them as the males (wich all these are) will come out of their winter den to bask in the early morning sun. Later this month also the females will show them selfs but i will need a little patience before i can photograph these.

So..here's a small selection of the many shots i was able to make..

Most of these shots where taken with the Canon Mark III and Sigma 150mm F2.8 in combination with the G.I Twin or customized Tripple flash. I also made some Adder in habitat shots with the Sigma 17-35mm at 17mm.

zaterdag 21 maart 2009


Itsy bitsy spider crawled up against the wall...

Yes...the sun is slowly coming up and macro subjects are starting to emerge from their winter hibernation state. Spiders are superb macro subject with their 8 eyes and hairy bodies and especially Jumping Spiders are amongst my favorites!

So i set out to look for some Jumping Spiders and did not have to look for long to find one. I was looking for a new flash set-up as an alternative for the expensive Canon MT 24 EX system and after some internet seaching i came across the Gadget Infinity Twin Flash. The whole set-up is very inexpensive and allthough it's all plastic it does work fine and is wireless wich is a lot less bulky then the Canon alternative.
I did some modification to the set-up by placing the flash receivers and flash heads on both upper corners and added a mini ballhead where i will place a 3rd similar flas set later on to provide me with some fill flash from a higher point. The Holga flashes do put out quite a big flash and the provided fabric diffusers where not easy to handle and so i bought a pair of Gary Fong "Puffer Diffusers" wich are actually meant for pop-up flashes and cut the pins in half wich u usually use to attach them to the pop-up flash and superglued these to the flash heads so i can place the Puffer Diffusers but also be able to remove them again. I also turned the bracket around so the flash heads and receivers are placed more backwards for better contact to the trigger and more importantly to get the flashes closer to my subject.

The results look very promising and so far and i am very pleased with this cheap and very light set-up. The flash head can be positioned in different angles and give me the freedom to use them for regular macro work as well.

For those of you who might be interested...
Here's what the set-up looks like wich was used to get these 8:1 up to 10:1 magnification Jumping Spider shots:

It's the Canon Mark III, 36mm + 12 mm of extension tubes, a Canon 2x teleconverter and a reversed 28mm lens combined with the customized G.I Twin Flash. There is a small mini Ballhead in the middle between the flashes (wich can not be seen on this photo..) an this is to add a 3rd flash from the top. And last but not least is the small LED light to help me focus my subjects in the dark viewfinder.

zaterdag 14 maart 2009

Green Lacewing-Chrysoperla carnea

One of my favorite insects is the Green Lacewing. This mainly has to do with their enormous oily eyes and the fact that one of the first prizes i ever won in a photography competition was a photograph of a mirrored Green Lacewing.

When i saw this one this morning it's eyes inspired we to photograph it on the backside of a DVD wich has the same oily colours and can provide some stunning light effects.

Here's a series of the Green Lacewing i shot this morning.

zondag 8 maart 2009

The Extremist...Part II

Have not stopped experimenting with extreme macro set-ups yet..
But...one thing that bothered me all this time was that i was working with set-up's wich where as extreme as the subjects i was trying to photograph..

The length of some of these set-ups came close to my 600mm telelens and that does not work well in the field i can tell you...
So after some stacking lenses and converters and macro rings i found a Soligor 3x teleconverter hidden somewhere inside my camera bag. I have hardly used the converter as for tele work i prefer to use Canon's 2x converter or even stack the 1,4 TC and 2x TC.
But...for macro this thing came in handy so i coupled the Canon 1,4 TC, a 20mm or 36mm extension tube and the 3x TC with the Canon 28mm FD in reverse and that turned out to give me images of between 8:1 up to 10: 1 with a set-up wich was 17 cm and could easily be used in the field!

Here's a shot of the set-up as described above:

I have also tried to add some Hama diopters i had laying around and though the magnification was huge the diffraction was likewise and there was just too much glass on glass. I guess a solid diopter from Raynox or a Canon 500D might do the trick but i have to get my hands on one of those some day..

Here's what the above set-up gave me from a 3mm Jumping Spider...

Some more test with this set-up at 10:1 magnification using electricity wire and the tip of a ballpoint...

vrijdag 6 maart 2009

Going Extreme!

Extreme macro that is....!
For a couple of years i have been using a reversed 50mm F1.8 to get extreme macro results wich are larger then the regular 1:1 macro lens has to offer. I used combinations of extension tubes and teleconverters and got decent results up to around 4 times lifesize.

I had however an old Canon 28mm F1.8 FD lens laying around wich i had intended to use for reversed lens technique but never got the aperture ring to work properly. As i usually work at around F9 for extreme macro (due to diffraction at these extreme magnifications) i decided to break te lens open and fix the aperture at F10.

I did some testshots of a Jumping spider and was very pleased with the results wich came out somewhere between 5:1 up to 8:1 wich is even larger then the Canon MP-E 65 can provide. There was however one drawback...due to the large aperture i had only a very small aperture-hole to peek through wich turned the viewfinder in one large black hole with hardly anything visible. I had seen a tip once from another macro photographer displaying how he used a small LED light to assist him with getting the focus right when working with extreme macro and a reversed lens. So at first i bought some small LED's and tried it without any good results. Then i drove off to the local gas station to look for one of those small LED light key-chains and i found one wich worked really well and provided me with a narrow but clear bright lightbeam to assis me with my AF. It works very good as when the viewfinder turns bright i know i am close to getting an accurate AF.

Here's the Jumping Spider i photographed with this set-up:

And here you can see the actual size of the Jumping Spider photographed with a regular 1:1 macro lens. As you can see the spider was only around 3mm so you can imagine how hard it was to get accurate focus on such a small animal when working handheld with a dark viewfinder.

Here you can see the set-up i have used in order to get the final Jumping Spider image. It is not as small as the Canon MP-E 65 and i propably will some day invest in that exceptional lens but for now this works like a charme...

I do not always use a ringflash though as it tends to give me circular highlights in the animal's eyes even though i diffused the ring somewhat with styrofoam. I prefer to use the set-up with a macro bracket and my regular Canon 550EX flash being diffused by the Gary Fong-lightsphere and some kitchen towell.

Here you can see a result with the ringflash where the circular highlights are present and in my opinion less attractive then the one shot with the regular flash pointed from above when using the macro bracket, Canon 550EX and Gary-Fong lightsphere:

And things can always get extremer....so here i coupled a bellows unit to the 2x teleconverter and added a 28mm F1.8 in reverse...

This set-up provides me with images at around 10:1 scale wich is double what a Canon MPE 65mm would produce. Ofcourse diffraction is a real issue here and shooting at F5.6 and then stacking the image is the only option.Also the viewfinder is completely dark so that's why i put the LED on top to help me get accurate focus.