Friday, July 24, 2009

My image looks great on my pc but became washed out/pale once uploaded to the web!

If your image looks great on your pc but pale/washed out once uploaded to the web, it's most likely that you've used adobeRGB color profile instead of the more web friendly sRGB. This simple SLR Macro photography tip / Photoshop tutorial / tip will make a great difference in how your images look when posted to the web.

There's been a lot of discussions on sRGB vs adobeRGB so if you wish to know more about these, just google. I've listed a couple here and here:

Example #1:
Notice the sRGB version has more punchy colors whereas the aRGB version has duller/pale colors? You won't notice any difference though if you are using Firefox 3.5 or Safari in Mac. In fact, the colors might look even nicer as aRGB has wider gamut than sRGB, only it won't display well on non color-managed browsers.

hover srgbhover aRGB

Example #2:
butterfly sRGBbutterfly aRGB

Example #3
jasmine sRGBjasmine aRGB

Sorry for the small images but i want them to appear side by side for easier comparison. You can always click on the image to view the bigger versions.

If you use ACR, make sure you set the color profile to sRGB (red arrow)
acr color profile

If you use DPP or Capture NX, make sure you set the color profile in your camera to sRGB. It does not matter though if you shoot in RAW and use ACR for your RAW conversion as ACR will ignore your in-camera settings.

NOTE: If you're using Firefox3.5 or Safari on a Mac most likely you won't have any problems as both color profiles will display properly. However, you should still convert your images to sRGB though because majority of the viewers can only view sRGB correctly.

All macro images shot with a 40D, Canon MP-E65 1X-5X Macro Lens and Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash

It is also important that you have your monitor/display calibrated at least once a month. I use Spyder2Express to do it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A comparison of different lighting setups

Having used a few different types of macro lightings/lighting techniques - natural light, Fill Flash, pop-up flash, bracketed speedlight, MR-14EX ring flash and MT-24EX Twin Flash - I thought it might be interesting to do a brief comparisons of all these.

Natural light shot of a butterfly: you can view the exif by clicking the image. That'll take you to my flickr, then "More Properties" to view the full exif.

Edit: Flickr made changes to its page so in order to view exif, you need to click on the camera model in this line "This photo was taken on August 19, 2010 using a Canon EOS 40D" at the top right of the image page:

Another way is to click "Actions" then "View Exif Info"

DSC_0124 copy

NL is free, of course :)and you get this nice, non-black background. There may not always be enough NL light to give you a decent shutter speed for a handheld shot at your required DOF, so a tripod might come in handy, or in fact, really necessary! Increasing the ISO is another option if you don't mind noise. More tips on natural light macro photography is here.

A full flash shot of the same scene. See the black background I was talking about? All light in the shot was provided by the flash. If there is no immediate bg, then it'll be black/dark. More on full flash macro photography here.

DSC_0129 copy

Sometimes a bit of fill flash is required to lift the shadow:
IMG_3625 copy
More on Full Flash vs Fill Flash macro photography here.

MR-14EX shot...note the ring light reflection in the spider's eyes:D. Image courtesy of Lordmint
Jumping Spider ~4:1

MR-14EX works fine right out of the box with no further diffusion required. But it's said that it lacks the motion freezing capability of its bigger brother, MT-24EX. The only sure way to confirm this is to look at the flash duration at different power outputs for both flash systems.

However, my friend Hisham figures out a way to diffuse ringflash nicely. Check out how he does it here.

Now a sample shot from the MT-24EX
IMG_7888 copy
Note the twin reflection in the eyes. I toned down the twin reflection a little in photoshop.

MT-24EX is a tough beast to tame and it takes a lot of experimentation to get the right light you want. I am still experimenting with it.
26-06-09_2209 copy02-03-09_1613 copy
DIY diffusers for MT-24EX on left, and MT-24EX on a 40D on right
(click image to go to my flickr where you can view notes on the images)

I have been using the Concave Diffuser for my MT24EX since February 2010 and extremely happy with the diffusion. 

Before I bought the MT-24EX, i used a diffused 580EXII on a Hakuba LH1 bracket.
IMG_5356 copyIMG_5360 copy
Hakuba LH1 bracket on left and DIY Diffuser for 580EXII on right
(click image to go to my flickr where you can view notes on the images)

You can also get a foldable softbox like this on Amazon.
LumiQuest SoftBox

Now a couple of sample shots from a diffused 580EXII on Hakuba LH1 bracket
IMG_4549 copy
Note there's no twin reflection and the light is softer/nicer.

IMG_0160 copy
Note the shadow below the eyes. The shadow issue can be more pronounced in certain shots depending on the shooting orientation and insect shapes.

I like the light from a diffused 580EXII on bracket better except the shadow issue and the weight. MT-24EX on the other hands, is much lighter and no shadow issue. Plus the MT-24EX is less likely to get in the way when shooting in bushes/grasses becuase it's not as bulky as the 580EXII's diffuser.

Now let's compare the shots of a similar reflective tiger beetles lit with a MT-24EX and diffused 580EXII respectively.

IMG_0215 copy
A highly reflective blue tiger beetle lit with a diffused 580EXII. Note the nice soft light and highlight, and the shadow at the lower part of the insect.

Now a similar shot lit by the MT-24EX
IMG_1567 copy
Note the harsher highlight. No shadow issue though.

However, since the introduction of the Concave Diffuser, MT24EX lighting has improved by leaps and bounds. Take a look at this image:

Green crested lizard's eyes, shot at 1:1, MPE65 and MT24EX with concave diffuser. More info about the concave diffuser here.

Explored....Green Crested Lizard....IMG_8924 copy

Don't be intimidated by these fancy setups/gears though. You can shoot great macro with just the basic.

When i first bought my D80 and Tamron SP90, i shot with just the popup flash, diffused by a styrofoam plate. It looks like this:
My Mighty Macro Rig
click image to go to my flickr where you can view notes on the images

Now a few sample shots with the diffused popup flash setup:
You've got pollens on your eyes

DSC_4020 ver 2

Another cost effective but more light efficient method I used before was this DIY Snoot Diffuser, which works nicely with speedlight. Check out this post for step by step guide on DIY Snoot Diffuser.
again, click image to go to my flickr where you can view notes

As usual, a couple of sample shots from this snoot-diffuser setup
DSC_6139 copy
A lovely, female giraffe favorite weevil

ant fight :D
Yes, you do get a bit of shadow issue with the snoot-diffuser too. IMHO, i think this setup is good enough even up to 2:1. Beyond that, you should get a flash bracket or a dedicated macro flash.

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