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Friday, August 20, 2010

Flash sensitive macro subjects

In this post, I will be sharing a macro photography tip on why we always face problem capturing macro photo of some flash sensitive macro subjects, followed by a simple trick/solution on how we can overcome the problem by just switching our flash mode from ETTL to manual power.

I am sure you have encountered a scenario like this before. You took a full flash shot ( or two ) of a flash (speedlight) sensitive macro subjects/bugs/insects, only to realize afterward when looking at your LCD that you have captured nothing but empty frame, such as this image:D

flash sensitive insect Long legged fly not.......IMG_4319 copy

I am sure a prime example would be a long legged fly (Dolichopodidae). And most likely, you were shooting in ETTL Mode. This happened to me again just yesterday. Let me share this handy SLR macro photography tips with you. I immediately changed my flash mode from ETTL to manual, at 1/4th flash power. Of course, the exact manual flash power you will need depends on your flash, flash-subject distance, diffuser and magnification. This was what I captured.

flash sensitive insect Long legged fly........IMG_4317 copy

Take a look at the definition of ETTL and you should be able to find out for yourself what ticks off those light/flash sensitive macro subjects/insects/bugs:

E-TTL (Evaluative-Through The Lens) is a Canon EOS flash exposure system that uses a brief pre-flash before the main flash in order to obtain a more correct exposure. E-TTL uses the same evaluative metering sensor used for ambient metering. The sensor is internal to the camera and takes its exposure via the lens so any filters added to the lens will also affect the E-TTL readings giving more accurate exposure information to the camera.

Yes, the keyword here is "pre-flash". Our light/flash sensitive macro subjects/insects/bug takes off as soon as the pre-flash comes on, before the main flash fires. By the time the main flash fires, our macro subject/insect/bug is not in our frame anymore.

So there you have it. Switch to manual flash mode, or even shoot with just natural light if the situation allows. I hope you find this macro photography tip useful.

All images here shot with Canon 40D, Canon MPE65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Lens and Canon MT24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash with DIY Concave Diffuser.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Night Macro - a secret weapon

This is another slr macro photography tip i picked up. I talked about Night Macro before and it's not really any different from day time macro. You'll definitely need a reasonably powerful flashlight/torchlight to get around, look for bugs/insects and to help in focusing. You will need help to shine the flash on the subject so you can focus and compose. However, if you have the Canon MT24EX Twin Flash or the MR14EX ring flash, you can use the built-in focusing light.

You can also try adding a focusing lamp to your macro setup to aid in focusing. That way you don't need someone to help you shine light on your macro subject. Something like this:

A small flashlight/torchlight with adjustable angle
focusing lamp for night macro or dark view finder

The small flashlight/torchlight attached to the macro rig. That's a DIY Snoot Diffuser attached to a speedlight. A DIY Snoot Diffuser guide is here.
Focusing Lamp for night macro or in the dark
Both images above courtesy of Chee Wai.

I have just acquired another secret weapon. Here we go:

Another flashlight/torchlight???
LED, UV and laser 3 in 1 flash light for night macro IMG_4109 copy

LED light mode..that is to be expect!
3 in 1 LED, UV and laser flash light for night macro IMG_4117 copy

Laser beam mode..cool, but probably not very useful for night macro!
3 in 1 LED, UV and laser flash light for night macro IMG_4115 copy

Hey, UV light, now we're talking. How is this going to help? We'll see.
LED, UV and laser 3 in 1 flash light for night macro IMG_4110 copy

With the help of UV light, you'll be able to find certain insects such as scorpion easily. I don't have any images of these yet but check out this link:

http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2006/11/13/fluorescent-scorpion-in-uv-light/

Go get yourself this cheap torchlight/flashlight so you can try out this simple slr macro photography tip. You can even use the UV light to check for counterfeit notes! :D

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using clone tool to enhance image

Another SLR macro photography tip and also Photoshop post processing tips. Since we don't always get to choose the perfect background when shooting macro, or any other genre of photography, sometimes we just have to make use of digital photography software such as the Adobe Photoshop to enhance the background and/or other aspect of our macro shot.

Since i normally prefer my macro images to have nice, clean background, I sometimes use the clone stamp tool in photoshop (CS3) to remove unwanted elements in my images.

All images here were shot with a 40D, Sigma 150mm F2.8 and MT24EX Macro Twin Flash.

This is what the image looks like before i use the clone stamp tool to remove that blade of grass on the left and another blade at the bottom right.
Damselfly with cricket prey.........IMG_3013 b4 copy

Just some quick work there so the end result is a bit blotchy, but I am sure you get the idea.
Damselfly with cricket prey.........IMG_3013 copy

Basically, I just use the clone stamp tool to clone out/remove the grass, then clone in the antenna.

Fortunately there are many useful video tutorials you can find on youtube.

A really good example here:


This one is great too, but don't watch it if you're offended by vulgar words in it:


Here is another one. Sorry embedding disabled by the author:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcJbN8CA49c

Now that you have read about this slr macro photography tip / photoshop post processing tip, it's time to try it out yourself.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Giraffe weevil and its host plant Bridelia tomentosa

An SLR macro photography tip on how and where to find the bug/insect/macro subject you want. In my previous post , I also shared another slr macro photography tip on where to shield bug/shield bug nymph.

Most of the images here were shot with a Canon 40D, MPE65 1X-5X Macro Lens and MT24EX Macro Twin Flash with DIY Concave Diffuser.

A female giraffe weevil/long necked beetle, Paracycnotrachelus sp. on its host plant, Bridelia tomentosa. Its breeding cycle is only completed on this host plant. A complete nest building process of the giraffe weevil/long necked beetle on this host plant Bridelia tomentosa can be found here:

A female giraffe weevil on host plant Bridelia tomentosa.......IMG_2486 copy

Host plant Bridelia tomentosa. Female giraffe weevil builds nest on this host plant and lays egg in it. The nest is called nitidi. (Thanks to Ted @ Beetleinthebush). These plants are not very uncommon. You can find them even in urban area.
giraffe weevil host plant Bridelia tomentosa DSC00288 copy

A closer look of the nest (nitidi). Thanks to Chow CK for these two host plant images.
nest or nitidi of giraffe weevil on host plant Bridelia tomentosa DSC00291 copy

A male giraffe weevil/long necked beetle Paracycnotrachelus sp.. Male of this species has longer neck.
male Giraffe Weevil on host plant Bridelia tomentosa (DSC_4620 )

A female giraffe weevil/long necked beetle Paracycnotrachelus sp.
female giraffe weevil on host plant Bridelia tomentosa IMG_9528v2 copy

Another female giraffe weevil.
female giraffe weevil on host plant Bridelia tomentosa DSC_6139 copy

The next time you go bug hunting, just look out for these plants. Who knows, you might find your first giraffe weevil/long necked beetle Paracycnotrachelus sp. soon! Good luck! As for me, i hope to find a mating pair soon! Wish me luck :)

That's it for now and I hope you'll benefit from this slr macro photography tip :)

I personally find that great books such as The Smaller Majority and great DVDs such as Life in the Undergrowth have benefited me tremendously.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shield bugs (Pycanum rubens) and host plant Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa)

An SLR macro photography tip on where and how to find the bug/insect/macro subjects you want. This time it's about shield bug/shield bug nymph. If you want to find giraffe weevil/long necked weevil, you can find out more from here.

Most of the images here were shot with a Canon 40D, MPE65 1X-5X Macro Lens and MT24EX Macro Twin Flash with DIY Concave Diffuser.


A shield bug nymph Pycanum rubens sucking sap from a Simpoh Air leaf Dillenia suffruticosa. I have always thought that it can only moves its proboscis up, down, frontward, backward, i.e. all within the same plane, but obviously i was wrong. It can move its proboscis sideway too as evident in this pic.
Shield bugs (Pycanum rubens) and host plant Simpoh Air  (Dillenia suffruticosa)IMG_3164 copy

This will be the first of hopefully many more posts to come on some interesting insects/bugs and their host plants/favorite plants. This should make bug hunting easier, but as always, keep your eyes open and look just about anywhere and everywhere.

Simpoh Air plant (Dillenia suffruticosa) is a shrubby tree that grows vigorously on eroded soil, wasteland, forest edges and swampy areas. More info here. Image courtesy of CK Chow.
host plant for shield bug Dillenia suffruticosa simpoh air DSC00335 copy

An adult Shield bug (Pycanum rubens) on its favorite plant - Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa)
Shield bugs (Pycanum rubens) and host plant Simpoh Air  (Dillenia suffruticosa)


Adult Pycanum rubens shield bugs
Adult Pycanum rubens shield bugs on host plant simpoh air Dillenia suffruticosa DSC_1998 copy


Adult Shield bug and shield bug nymph (Pycanum rubens) sucking sap from a Simpoh Air leaf(Dillenia suffruticosa)
Shield bugs (Pycanum rubens) adult and nymph and host plant Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa)IMG_2514 copy

Another shield bug nymph (Pycanum rubens). This is was more mature than the pink one i think.
A green shield bug nymph on host plant simpoh air Dillenia suffruticosa............IMG_1053 copy

This shield bug nymph (Pycanum rubens) was less mature than the green one
Two shield bug nymph on host plant simpoh air Dillenia suffruticosa............IMG_0610 copy

Now that you have read about this slr macro photography tip, it's time to go look for your first pink shield bug nymph. Good luck!

I personally find that great books such as The Smaller Majority and great DVDs such as Life in the Undergrowth have benefited me tremendously.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Giraffe Weevil building nest/laying egg

This is how a female giraffe weevil/long-necked beetle (Paracycnotrachelus sp) builds a nest and lays egg on its host plant,  Bridelia tomentosa plant. The female giraffe weevil/long necked beetle spends about one hour to complete building her nest and lay egg inside the cradle.

All the images here were taken with a Nikon D80 and a Tamron SP90
The Bridelia tomentosa host plant is quite common in the urban area and wherever you find this plant, you'll most likely find the giraffe weevils/long necked beetles (Paracycnotrachelus sp) too.

1. first she inspects the leaves to find a good one
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg on host plant Bridelia tomentosa DSC_5944 web

2. she spends quite a while inspecting that white thingy :)
female giraffe weevil inspecting Bridelia tomentosa host plant before building nest and laying egg DSC_5945 web

3. a worm...surely not her baby. Will it harm her baby later?
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5947 web

4. she went into the half rolled leaf and spend a long while in there, presumably to lay egg?
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5950 web

5. she came out and started rolling the leaf again
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5971 web

6. rolling....rolling...
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5973 web

7. she keeps on rolling
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5976 web

8. still rolling
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5979 web

9. almost done!
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5984 web

10. she now severes the center vein
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5986 web

11. now the whole thing with her egg inside was like hanging by a thread!!!
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5987 web

12. all done, now she can just sit back, relax, and munch on some delicious leaves
female giraffe weevil building nest and laying egg DSC_5988 web

As mentioned in #11, the whole nest was like hanging by a thread. I suspected that she was an inexperienced mother, at least that was what i thought at that time. My suspicion was confirmed the following day. The nest was gone. Must have dropped due to the heavy rain and wind.

I personally find that great books such as The Smaller Majority and great DVDs such as Life in the Undergrowth have benefited me tremendously.

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