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Thread: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    As mentioned in my previous thread, I'm back to macro, and lovin it! Here are some shots of a muscid fly. It was a willing subject, allowing me to work in very close proximity while it went about its normal activities.

    Quick background on the shots and how I achieved them: Used Canon 7D, Sigma 150mm macro, tripod, ballhead, macro rail, wireless shutter remote, and a tinfoil reflector for fill light. The reflector is simply tin foil taped to a piece of cardboard, and is handheld at whatever angle and distance produces the desired lighting of the subject. For the second shot, I have included a small, raw example of the shot which I did not use the reflector, and then the next shot showing what a reflector can do. Granted the one without the reflector is not processed, but the difference in lighting is still relevant.

    The usual processing - WB, exposure, color, contrast, sharpening etc. I did do some modifications to the shots such as removing some distractions via cloning and such.

    View full size (f) in lytebox for best detail and sharpness. Thanks for looking, feel free to c&c.

    1

    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)


    WITHOUT reflector. Unprocessed. Note the darkness of the subject, and lack of color and detail.

    2

    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)


    With reflector. Processed. Compare the overall exposure of the subject to that of the shot above that did not use a reflector.

    3

    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

  2. #2
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Amazing detail in the photo's Matt, looks like your having fun and that reflector certainly makes a big difference.
    Nice work

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Matt,

    That was one willing model you had. Great detail with that reflector, well done.

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    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Not often you get offered a bonus so I just had to have a peek and I am glad I did.
    Very clear macros and interesting to see the without and with reflector comparison.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Superb photography. That first one in particular is, I think, of the highest quality. As someone who has never done anything like this, I am full of admiration.

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Very nice detail. The with and without reflector shots are a lesson in photography in themselves, and just shows that you dont need expensive lastolites etc.

    Now how do you get such a static model? Early morning?

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Great photos Matt! The sharpness and focus are perfect. As an amateur macro photographer I would like to know how you accomplish so much of your subject "in focus" as in DOF/F stop/speed datas if it is not too much to ask?

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Great shots and thanks for the lesson......your 7D shows very little noise at 1000ISO....I'm afraid my Nikon D90 would not be so kind......did you process for noise in that first one?

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    benm's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    That is one seriously ugly animal. Excellent photography.

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Matt, love first pic.

    karm

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    A great set of images Matt and thanks for demonstrating the benefits of a reflector That Sigma is super sharp. Tamaron and Tokina have been favoured in the UK over the last few years but interestingly, the Sigma has just come out top in a recent magazine comparison. Nice work.

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    HaseebM's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Excellent images, especially the first one is outstanding.

  13. #13
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Thank you for all your comments! Very kind of you and I appreciate the feedback. Glad the reflector comparison was helpful to some. On to a few questions...

    Now how do you get such a static model? Early morning?
    Yes, generally early morning is better for insects. However this was a few hours after sunrise and it was actively moving around. I just worked it as long as I could and took as many shots as it would allow.

    how you accomplish so much of your subject "in focus" as in DOF/F stop/speed datas if it is not too much to ask?
    1st Shot is f/9 @ 1/50 @ISO1000
    2nd Shot is f/11 @1/30 @ISO1000

    I had to make decisions to balance out the aperture, shutter, and ISO based on the available light. I didn't want to go any higher ISO since the 7D is noisy, and although it can be reduced in post processing, that does not apply well to macro shots. When you are doing super closeups like these, the noise overlays the details, and there is just no way to tell the NR what is noise and what is desired detail. So I had to keep it at 1000 or lower. And then my shutter speeds were on the verge of insanely slow for a moving target, so I kept the aperture a bit wider (for ultra macros, people usually stop down to at least f/16 for more DOF). Remember also, the smaller your aperture (bigger number) the more your image quality will suffer due to diffraction, and so actually I rarely use smaller than f/16 for this reason, I like my shots sharp and I also like softer BG. I am willing to sacrifice some DOF as long as the key subject matter is focused (eyes, etc)

    A few things to realize: The DOF in these shots is something like 2 to 3mm. One of the biggest mistakes by beginners with macro is not aligning the critical subject matter with the focal plane. You must parallel your camera sensor to the desired area of focus when working at such small DOF. Takes practice, and with moving subjects, a lot of luck and a lot of shots. I believe with crop factor camera sensors, there is a miniscule increase in DOF over full frame when all other factors are equal, but I don't know if it would contribute a noticeable advantage for shots like this.

    I did crop these a bit out of my 18mp files. Also, realize that when you shrink a photo down for web viewing and editing, it instantly appears sharper and looks to have a bit more DOF. And finally, don't underestimate the importance of proper post processing and sharpening. The difference between a raw shot and processed one, even at 100% zoom, can be rather shocking in terms of how sharp/clear/focused it looks.

    BTW, if you save an image to your computer and then view the properties, you can get all the info about the pic. Also, there are some browser plugins which will let you view the info in browser.

    did you process for noise in that first one?
    Yes, I actually reduced the noise in both shots, thought I spent a lot more time on the first shot- making sure to only sharpen the subject and not the bg in that first one. I should have not been so sloppy on the second shot but I was in a hurry.

    That Sigma is super sharp
    Agreed. It's a fantastic lens. It is in their "Pro" line of glass, and the price reflects that. But it's definitely worth it.

    ---

    EDIT:
    Added key advice for macro. Use your DOF preview button!!! (for inanimate subjects and also for test shots if you have the chance) Not only will this tell you in general how your DOF is on your subject, but will instantly alert you to how your bg looks. Most beginners overlook the bg. It's critical to avoid distractions whenever possible. You will eventually learn to see ahead of time the potential good and bad backgrounds / scenes and will probably often skip a subject if you know it will be a futile battle. I skip subjects all the time if I know the bg is going to be terrible and difficult to modify. Your time will be best spent finding the ideal subject and bg combination than wasting that time working with a terrible situation. The worst offender is bg's that are close to your subject and/or have harsh lighting or high frequency edges (sticks, twigs, etc) I generally try to get bg's that are distant from the subject, modifying the angle of my composition to get what I need. If I don't think I am causing too much harm to the environment, I will occasionally trim a few weeds or grass away from the bg with a knife, but I am careful not to be too extreme or damage too much environment. Minimal footprint with this kind of "pruning" and if it's a shrub or rare plant I will of course not do this. If DOF preview looks bad, the shot will look bad. Change your composition, angle, bg, clean up the bg if possible, etc. Distractions in the bg are a huge disaster and will ruin an otherwise good shot. This is of course stated from my own personal viewpoint. OK I should stop before I end up writing a macro book here
    Last edited by FlyingSquirrel; 20th July 2013 at 05:55 AM.

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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Stunning photos Matt... Thank you for sharing the details so others can learn, yes, me.

  15. #15
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Thanks Christina.
    A question for anyone who may be looking at this again, I have another crop I'd like your feedback on. I would have posted this other crop when initially posting this thread except I had not yet got to this point and I did not think another crop would be necessary since I liked the original so much. But, for your consideration, here is a new crop...please let me know which you prefer, and why. Thanks.


    A.

    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    Original crop posted before:
    B.

    Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

  16. #16
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    Re: Muscid fly macro shots (plus, bonus reflector comparison shot)

    I prefer the first crop... Not sure why

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