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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk
Thread started 18 Jul 2012 (Wednesday) 08:00
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Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

 
Earwax69
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Jul 18, 2012 08:00 |  #1

I see a lot of flash macro photos here and while some of them are great, a big amount is, in my view, somewhat ruined by the big white harsh light of a flash. If there's a tripod available, I dont see much use for a flash except for moving target or some subtil light adjustement. I do understand that the more you magnify, the more the light entering the lens decrease.

Is a flash absolutly mandatory for serious macro work or can you get away with a longer exposition?

thanks


Canon 6D | S35mm f1.4 | 135mm f2 The rest: T3i, 20D, 15mm f2.8, 15-85mm, 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 90mm f2.8 macro, 55-250mm.
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ShutterBugL
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Jul 18, 2012 08:42 |  #2

If your lens is very close to the subject, you are likely to block the light and cast a shadow. You'll need the flash then.

Even with an unmoving subject, good ambient light and a tripod, a flash is not entirely redundant. With good diffusion, the harsh light of a flash can be brought under control and you will have an additional tool in your toolkit. Flash allows you to take control over the ambient environment. Flash when properly used can accentuate detail and texture, and add interest where ambient light alone cannot.


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Earwax69
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Jul 18, 2012 09:00 |  #3

Mmm you are right. I guess flashes for macro are as useful as flashes in a studio. You can sculp the light to achieve your look. I guess I am blinded by my "tiny budget" mind and a real photographer will indeed take the mean to make a great photography.

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Canon 6D | S35mm f1.4 | 135mm f2 The rest: T3i, 20D, 15mm f2.8, 15-85mm, 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 90mm f2.8 macro, 55-250mm.
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lizzle
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Jul 18, 2012 18:35 |  #4

Earwax69 wrote in post #14733937external link
I see a lot of flash macro photos here and while some of them are great, a big amount is, in my view, somewhat ruined by the big white harsh light of a flash. If there's a tripod available, I dont see much use for a flash except for moving target or some subtil light adjustement. I do understand that the more you magnify, the more the light entering the lens decrease.

Is a flash absolutly mandatory for serious macro work or can you get away with a longer exposition?

thanks

Flash ruining a photo is not confined to macro photography. Flash photography in general is not an easy subject to master. Flash adds a level of complexity that newbies avoid like the plague, amateurs dabble with in an attempt to learn, and serious amateurs & pros use effectively to create stunning images.

Flash or no flash - photography is all about light. It's one of the few absolutes. Flash is the same as any other light - it can be used effectively or used poorly.

In some situations, yes, flash is absolutely mandatory, in others, not so much. Not using it because you don't like how some other people use it poorly is a pretty bad excuse.

It's the nut behind the camera that really makes the difference.



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racketman
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Jul 18, 2012 18:55 |  #5

natural light is best whenever possible in my opinion but its always windy where I live so longer tripod exposures are seldom on the cards. Many serious macro photographers disdain flash altogether.

Here is some serious (ie VG) macro work with typically low ISO/longish exposures/180mm lens/ tripod:

http://www.pbase.com .../different_kinds_of​_fliesexternal link

this chap normally shoots at ISO100 and typically 1/8 to 3sec exposure but occasionaly uses fill-flash.

http://www.pbase.com ...dragonflies_of_loui​siana_external link

light quality speaks for itself.


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Earwax69
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Jul 19, 2012 03:58 |  #6

@Lizzle: "it can be used effectively or used poorly" I think it resume it all!

@Racketman: Nice photos! A cloudy sky sure make the best of softbox.

I still didn't receive my macro lens and will probably learn the hard way about how much light I need for macro. Especially since I dont plan to buy any flashes. I've tried a bit with my old horrible sigma 70-300mm macro and indeed the iso was way up even on a shinny day.


Canon 6D | S35mm f1.4 | 135mm f2 The rest: T3i, 20D, 15mm f2.8, 15-85mm, 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 90mm f2.8 macro, 55-250mm.
So long and thanks for all the fish

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Lester ­ Wareham
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Jul 19, 2012 07:18 |  #7

The main reason to use flash is to freeze movement. It is not just the specular reflection of the flash the actual colour can look very different.

Handheld overcast natural light

IMAGE: http://www.ware.myzen.co.uk/GalleryPics/Photos/Arthropods/Ants%20Bees%20Wasps/insects%20Potter%20Wasp%20A1F_001%2003%2004%2016-05-12.jpg

Flash
IMAGE: http://www.ware.myzen.co.uk/GalleryPics/Photos/Arthropods/Ants%20Bees%20Wasps/insects%20Potter%20Wasp%20A1C_008%2010%2012%2013%2016-05-12.jpg

Overcast natural light
IMAGE: http://www.ware.myzen.co.uk/GalleryPics/Photos/Arthropods/Butterflies%20Moths/insects%20moth%20A1C_004-07%2016-05-12.jpg

Strong sun
IMAGE: http://www.ware.myzen.co.uk/GalleryPics/Photos/Arthropods/Butterflies%20Moths/insects%20moth%20D4A_0001%2004%2005%2022-05-10.jpg

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Techuser
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Jul 19, 2012 09:38 |  #8

Earwax69 wrote in post #14733937external link
I see a lot of flash macro photos here and while some of them are great, a big amount is, in my view, somewhat ruined by the big white harsh light of a flash. If there's a tripod available, I dont see much use for a flash except for moving target or some subtil light adjustement. I do understand that the more you magnify, the more the light entering the lens decrease.

Is a flash absolutly mandatory for serious macro work or can you get away with a longer exposition?

thanks

If the shot was ruined by flash, it's because it's was badly used.

It can be done without it, a lot of macroshooters go for morning light, insects almost frozen with dew, these are taken with natural lighting and I think they are awesome. Under the harsh sun, I tend to dislike.


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Lester ­ Wareham
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Jul 19, 2012 12:32 |  #9

Techuser wrote in post #14739565external link
If the shot was ruined by flash, it's because it's was badly used.

It can be done without it, a lot of macroshooters go for morning light, insects almost frozen with dew, these are taken with natural lighting and I think they are awesome. Under the harsh sun, I tend to dislike.

I know what you mean Strong direct sunlight can look a lot like flash.


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Earwax69
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Jul 21, 2012 01:50 |  #10

I just went outside taking pics with my newly arrived Tamron 90mm... pretty cool. It's cloudy and I can only get away with f5.6 at iso 1600 without too much motion blur. It's far from easy handhled. I understand why one would need flashes to get a larger DoF.

Nice wasp Lester! I've seen 2 this morning but I dare not approach them. I live in Japan and the Giant Japanese Hornet is just plain scary.

"These giant hornets can reach up to 3 inches in length and have the most painful sting than any other stinging insects. The venom injected from their stingers contains 8 different chemicals that not only cause tissue damage, but also leaves an odor that attracts more hornets to the victim. With a death toll of around 70 people every year, these fatal insects are a definite curse for the Japanese."


Canon 6D | S35mm f1.4 | 135mm f2 The rest: T3i, 20D, 15mm f2.8, 15-85mm, 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 90mm f2.8 macro, 55-250mm.
So long and thanks for all the fish

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Lester ­ Wareham
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Jul 21, 2012 03:22 |  #11

Thanks. That was a Potter Wasp which was very docile, most wasps in the UK are harmless unless your a prey item! Have to be carfull with some, specialy hornets and bees near the hive.


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