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Old 18th of July 2012 (Wed)   #1
Earwax69
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Default Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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
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Old 18th of July 2012 (Wed)   #2
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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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Old 18th of July 2012 (Wed)   #3
Earwax69
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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.

http://805creative.com/blog/macro-ph...beginners.html

This image for exemple;

Last edited by Earwax69 : 18th of July 2012 (Wed) at 09:04.
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Old 18th of July 2012 (Wed)   #4
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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Originally Posted by Earwax69 View Post
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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Old 18th of July 2012 (Wed)   #5
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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/allonkira/different_kinds_of_flies

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

http://www.pbase.com/ronnie_14187/ma..._of_louisiana_

light quality speaks for itself.
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Last edited by racketman : 18th of July 2012 (Wed) at 18:58.
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Old 19th of July 2012 (Thu)   #6
Earwax69
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

@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.
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Old 19th of July 2012 (Thu)   #7
Lester Wareham
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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


Flash


Overcast natural light


Strong sun
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Last edited by Lester Wareham : 21st of July 2012 (Sat) at 03:25. Reason: Last image was strong sun not flash
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Old 19th of July 2012 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwax69 View Post
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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Old 19th of July 2012 (Thu)   #9
Lester Wareham
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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Originally Posted by Techuser View Post
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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Old 21st of July 2012 (Sat)   #10
Earwax69
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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."
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Old 21st of July 2012 (Sat)   #11
Lester Wareham
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Default Re: Flash vs long exposition with natural light for unmoving subjects

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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