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Playing with the light | by Nikola Rahme
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Playing with the light

I am a big fan of diffusing the light when photographing insects. Most of the shiny subjects looks far better under drastically diffused flash or other lights. The tiny details of the surface pass off in spotted illumination, so I always prefer using white plastic or white office paper around the insects.

Now I wouldn't show example shots with absolutely pure lights, I hope each of you know the problem.

As my favorite family of beetles are the jewel beetles, I have a lot of experiences in shooting them. In the nature they frequent sun-exposed places, like cut woods, flowers or dry trees. Pictures made under these conditions will be overcontrasted, too many black areas and shiny spots, loosing the nice sculpture details. You'd be better to photograph them in overcast or in early morning.


Excercise in the studio gives useful experiences which can be profitable in the field.

Jewel beetles (Buprestidae) are mostly colorful, metallic insects, they always look exciting if the light is well controlled. I obtained some routine with this small fellow a few days ago. It is a prepared leaf miner beetle - Trachys troglodytiformis choosen from my collection. Its length is 2,95 mm.

For the test stacks I used the JML 21/3.5 lens on a bellows set to 7x magnification. Two sequences were made, first with a whole paper cylinder, second with the same cylinder but with a hole on it, and a translucent paper fixed on the hole. Both stacks were combined in two stacking methods of Zerene: DMap and PMax, surprisingly the results are different in terms of lighting effect.


My edification is the excessive diffusing loses from the nature of the subject in some cases. Let's check the examples below!

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Taken on January 14, 2012