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Thread: Macro Spring Flowers

  1. #1
    John C's Avatar
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    Macro Spring Flowers

    I finally saved up enough pennies to purchase a Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. It has taken a while for me to understand how to use it. At first, I had difficulty getting the exposure correct. I was relying mostly on manually adjusting the flash intensity to get the correct exposure, which was generally hit and miss. Recently, however I reset the flash back to factory settings and went back to reconfiguring it for my camera. It turns out that I had it in manual mode. Now that its set for my camera, it works great at adjusting the flash intensity based on the through-the-lens metering. If the subject fills most of the field of view, the exposure seems to be right on. If I'm trying to photograph a small flower in a larger view, I have to make an adjustment which amounts to lowering EV -1 to -2.

    The first photo shows some Oxalis flowers. These were in fairly deep shade. Normally, a photo like this would require a long exposure at ISO 100. With the ring flash, the photo was taken at f/8 and 1/160 s.

    Macro Spring Flowers

    This second photo shows Lunaria blossoms. I really love the variations in color between the individual blossoms. This one was taken at f/16 and 1/80s. I still used a tripod for both photos. Its a lot easier to wait on the breeze to stop when using a tripod. To keep the lighting from looking too flat, I set one half of the flash to be four times the intensity of the other half (4:1).

    Macro Spring Flowers

    Let me know what you think.

  2. #2

    Re: Macro Spring Flowers

    Hi John

    Great minds think alike - I was out last night with my ring-flash taking shots of Lunaria!

    Nice shots you have there. I prefer the second one with the darker backdrop (it highlights the flower more)

    The Metz unit you have looks pretty good, and over here it's the same price as the Sigma that I have. I started off using TTL and shooting on a tripod, but soon found it was a bit restricting. There's an interesting thread going at the moment that you might want to look at which is about capturing motion with flash, but part of the reason I started it was I wanted to capture flowers which might be moving slightly in wind, using flash, but without a tripod. Here Help required shooting high-speed action with flash

    Here's one I did last night, almost dark, hand held, wind blowing,1/80s, F22, ISO100, and I was about 12in from flower with Sigma 105mm macro lens and the Sigma ring flash (isn't flash useful! )
    Macro Spring Flowers

    For the shot above I used manual camera and flash mode. I used f/22 to get a good DOF and set the camera shutter to 1/80s. I didn't use a tripod because it was getting dark and I was sure that most of the exposure light was going to come from the flash and not from the ambient light. You only need to worry about camera shake if this is not the case. For example if during your 1/80s exposure 90% of the exposure light comes from the flash and not from the ambient light (because it's getting dark) the shutter will be open for 1/80's but most of the recording will be done during the flash period, which was probably about 1/10,000s. In such situations you definitely don't need to use a tripod - you can hand-hold which gives you much greater flexibility and time to shoot.

    I use manual mode on the flash because TTL will try to expose the whole of the shot, and quite often I just want the flower exposed and not the backdrop, which can be messy and over-detailed. You can use the viewing screen and histogram to check the light levels. For the above shot it only took me three adjustments to get it right. All I did in PS was sharpen it.

    It's a good idea as you said to vary the power on each side of the flash unit to give a more natural look. I also use my ring off-camera. Mine is attached by a curly-cord and I find it useful sometimes to hang it on a stick planted in the ground. The Metz can be used in detached mode with a sync cable, I think.
    Last edited by carregwen; 25th April 2010 at 09:48 AM.

  3. #3
    John C's Avatar
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    Re: Macro Spring Flowers

    I took some photos of flowers without a tripod but found the results better with the tripod. I think there are a couple factors at work - I can take more time to compose and I can get the focus range right. The camera likes to set the shutterspeed at 1/80s when using the flash with aperture mode. I can still synch it up to 1/160s if I use manual mode. With my Sony camera, the Metz ringflash also takes into account the distance the lens is focused (ADI encoding), so its less likely to light up the background. For shots closer than about 1 ft, I have been using the diffuser over the flash. I have been using it in wireless mode, being triggered by the pop-up flash.

    I suppose that the lunaria flowers are closely synched between Georgia and the UK. There are some iris flowers that were almost open yesterday. I must go check on their progress.

  4. #4
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    Cathy

    Re: Macro Spring Flowers

    The flower photos look great to me. I aspire to have such great shots!

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