Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black background in full flash macro shot

So you are getting really good with your focusing skill and your success rate is pretty high. What's next? Maybe some composition whenever the situation allows.

You can even go a step further - set up the background so you don't always get the pitch black background! Not that i have anything against black background. It's just that it's all to easy to end up with a black bg so it's good to have some colorful backgrounds once in a while. Very simple macro technique but it will add lots of colors to your macro images.

All images shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MPE65 1X-5X macro lens and Canon MT24EX Twin Flash with DIY Diffuser.

Typical full flash shot with black background. The BG is black because there was nothing in the near distant to reflect light back into the lens/sensor.
IMG_8927 copy

while the robber fly was away, i put a few yellow leaves behind the perch...
Face to Face with a Robber .......IMG_8941 copy

I was holding the leaf with my left hand and used a bromeliad plant as my background. More about this technique here.
IMG_7861 copy

Of course, all these apply only to Full Flash Macro Photography. If you shoot with natural light, it's a slightly different ballgame. You can read up on Natural Light Macro Photography here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My first slide show on youtube:)

This is the first video/slide show i created using mainly some of my favorite digital macro images and also couple of nature and landscape images. The free tune is from

All images shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MPE65 1X-5X macro lens and Canon MT24EX Twin Flash with DIY Concave Diffuser.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old vs New MT-24EX DIY Diffusers Test

Just a quick and dirty tests i conducted on my DIY Diffusers for my MT24EX.

Edit: my latest diffuser: concave diffuser - cheapest, easiest to DIY yet the best so far - can be found here.

Old i.e Rev 1 diffusers look like this:
DIY Diffuser for MT-24EX IMG_8215 copy

More info on gen 1 diffusers construction here

New i.e. Rev 2 diffusers look like this:
DIY Diffuser for MT-24EX IMG_8219 copy
I used a pair of Sto-fen inside to simply the DIY process. The housing (where the stofen is in) was made from some clear PP material on a mineral water bottle. Not easy to make it stay in that elliptical form. You can try using moldable plastic to form the housing though.

 AMACO Friendly Plastic Pellets, 28-Ounce, Ivory
Moldable plastic. Just heat and form it into any shape you want. Can be reheated and re-shaped over and over again!

Light efficiency tests:

Gen 1 vs Gen 2 DIY Diffuser comparison (IMG_8213 copy_

IMG_8212 copy

IMG_8210 copy

Old (Rev 1) vs New (Rev 2) DIY Diffusers: seems like Rev 1 needed between 1/8th and 1/16th flash power to match the same exposure on Rev 2 at 1/32th flash power. Rev 2 should be 1.5 stop more efficient than Rev 1. All images converted from RAW with default settings.

Rev 2 seems to have slightly bigger apparent light size too.

All tests done at 1:1 because that is the worse case scenario, for the MPE65, at least.

I have only tested this gen 2 DIY Diffusers in the field once. More field tests required. Anyway, here are a few shots using Gen 2 Diffusers.
ant mimic spider smell no evil

IMG_7849 copy

IMG_7924 copy

All shot with Canon MPE65 1X-5X macro lens and MT24EX Twin Flash

Canon MPE 65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon MT24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

A common misconception among most macro photographers is that twin flash is always better than a single flash/light source. I beg to differ. If anything, the twin catch lights from the MT-24EX really irritates me. Read more about it here. I had to rely on post processing to tone down the bright twin catch lights in certain macro subjects' (esp jumping spiders) eyes. With the invention of the concave diffuser, the twin catch lights is no longer a problem.

Please also check out how you can use just a single flash/speedlight i.e. the 270EX (or equivalence, e.g. the Nikon SB400) with adapted concave diffuser concept to cater for the longer working distance of longer macro lenses other than the MPE65.

Check out my macro rig here.


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