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Same plant, different day. | by MattysFlicks
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Same plant, different day.

Here we have yet another bee macro. It was feeding off of the Columbine flowers that I had shot the day before. I wasn't exactly sold on the bees modeling prowess and was hoping to get a better pose, but the the shot had lots of detail some decent color and it was the first time I had ever captured airborne pollen in a shot. So I figured I would share it.


I used a Yongnuo YN-560ii in a 8"x8" softbox to light the shot. I no longer have to write camera and lens info here because I spent this morning figuring out how to alter the EXIF data for old manual lenses.


My process:

The other morning I realized that most insects prefer shade and move at much slower speeds at lower temperatures, so a cloudy overcast morning right after you're finished shooting a spectacular sunrise is the ideal time for shooting a lot of different bugs.


I only pre-setup a few things. I make sure I have a dedicated macro lens or some extension tubes and a prime lens attached to the camera and that the camera is set to ISO-100 (or lowest possible ISO for the camera) to capture maximum detail. Although I used auto white balance for this shot, it would have been a good idea to set the white balance to cloudy or a warmer kelvin setting (depending on how you set your white balance) to increase the vibrance and improve the overall colors in the image. I also make sure that I have my trigger/receiver set attached and that I have easy access to a speed light with a modifier on it to soften the light or the bounce card out, because lots of bugs are quite reflective and will have nasty blown out highlights if shot with a bare strobe aimed directly at them.


When (or shortly before) a bug shows up I take a test shot (or five) and try to find a good balance between the aperture (to get a decent DOF for the size of the subject), the power level on the strobe (keeping in mind that it only needs to be in the ball park, because it will be hand held and can be moved closer or further to increase/decrease the light value). Then setting the shutter speed at an appropriate speed for the subject. The settings here are approximate and I usually adjust them as I start shooting.


When shooting with a mirrorless camera like the a6000 I can shoot hand held with one hand and the strobe in the other. If I was shooting with a DSLR I would shoot on a mononpod or a tripod used as a monopod. Since I'm using a macro lens or a prime lens on extension tubes I focus by leaning in and out from the subject. When focusing with an electronic viewfinder it's really dark because your strobe is not a continuous light source and your camera will not see the light from your strobe until the shutter is pressed and the strobe is fired. You may have to take a few shots to hit the correct focus, but it is not totally blind.


This setup has some limitations. Like a max sync speed of 1/200th limited by the camera/strobe/transmitter/receiver, so you can't capture wings in flight and high speed stuff like that. You have to focus in the dark. And the recycle time on the strobe prevents you from taking advantage of continuous shooting. In the future I plan making life easier and getting one of those fancy ring flashes like the Yongnuo YN-14M that has little modeling lamps on it, but need to do some more research and read some reviews on it first.

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Uploaded on June 22, 2015